September 8, 2023 marked 45 years since Mustard Seed Communities began growing our family in Kingston, Jamaica. In the four and a half decades since, a small building that doubled as a school and dormitory for children with disabilities transformed into an organization that prioritizes caring, sharing, and training for the most vulnerable populations of five countries.
Today, hundreds of residents living with disabilities and thousands more are uplifted by MSC’s mission of love and inclusion that is inspired by the healing ministry of Jesus Christ.
Msgr. Gregory Ramkissoon describes his vision for a caring shelter for the most vulnerable in 1980; children attending Little Angels School in Kingston gather around Msgr. Gregory in 2023.
When Msgr. Gregory Ramkissoon founded MSC in 1978, he had a hopeful vision for the population of children experiencing homelessness around Jamaica. Many were squatting on unclaimed pieces of land, where they had no access to education and healthcare. Starting with just one home, Msgr. Gregory invited members of his local community and kindhearted supporters from around the world to help grow the organization. What started with the least became a family of the most—overflowing with care and love.
Throughout the week of MSC’s anniversary, every apostolate in Jamaica celebrated Mass—living out our hallmark catchphrase, “Thank you, Lord!” Celebrated by members of the Mustard Seed Missionaries, the commemorative Masses invited residents to share in the welcoming spirit of God with the family they found at Mustard Seed.
Spirituality is a core hallmark of MSC, and has been in the forefront since the first MSC home’s inception. September 8, MSC’s feast day, is also the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a Patroness of our nurturing mission. To affirm this commitment, Mustard Seed Missionary clergy members renewed their vows to the organization’s mission as part of the celebration. Msgr. Gregory, Fr. Garvin Augustine, Fr. Ernest Chikwata, and Deacon Patrick Roche promised to remain steadfast in caring for residents’ spiritual wellbeing in addition to their physical and intellectual wellbeing.
Deacon Patrick Roche visits with residents of Jerusalem; the Jacob’s Ladder community celebrates Mass for Thank You Thursday.
An outdoor festival at Jerusalem mirrored the joy of the anniversary. September 8 was a rainy day in Jamaica; however, every single resident, caregiver, and community member stayed at the celebration to commemorate MSC’s 45 years.
“The caregivers’ and staff’s commitment extends well beyond the dedication to Mustard Seed’s celebration,” said Deacon Roche “Without the caregivers putting MSC’s ministry into action through their unwavering love of these children, , MSC would be nowhere near as expansive and impactful as it is today.”
The caregivers at the organization’s heart inspire countless others to put Mustard Seed’s ministry into action. “The caregivers and all of the people doing day-to-day labors of love at MSC are making the most transformative difference,” said longtime mission volunteer Stephanie Larson. “I am motivated by their constant demonstration of love.”
A staff member reads to My Father’s House resident Anne; Giovanni shares a smile with a Sophie’s Place caregiver.
For 45 years, Mustard Seed has remained an “oasis of generosity and heart,” as Msgr. Gregory describes. With hope-filled aspirations for the future of MSC, we are truly grateful for every person who has made a difference in the lives of our leaders, residents, volunteers, and staff. Msgr. Gregory started with just a small seed of faith; yet, with God’s nurturing care and the support of many people over the years, that seed has grown to a larger-than-life love.