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Mandeville bishop works on building relationships with people


Since being ordained September 19, 2020, and assuming duties as Bishop of Mandeville in the midst of a global pandemic, Bishop John Persaud is sharing how Covid-19 has impacted his ministry and community.

Speaking during the Antilles Episcopal Conference’s (AEC) ‘Conversations with the AEC Bishops’ on Facebook live last month, Bishop Persaud explained while there was a lot of excitement surrounding the ordination, the “greatest hurt” was that “not even one person from any of the communities was allowed to be present.”

“That for me was the greatest hurt actually, and something I had to live through in the experience of becoming a bishop in a diocese where the very people I was called to serve and shepherd could not be at the ordination physically,” the Bishop told host and AEC General Secretary Fr Don Chambers.

Bishop Persaud shared though close friends and family travelled to Jamaica for the occasion, “that all changed” upon their arrival. “I know that hurt them. By that time, I came to a place of peace myself,” Bishop Persaud said.

Asked to share with viewers how he spent his first few months ministering to a diocese under lockdown, Bishop Persaud explained that he felt “an urgency” to visit every community in the diocese commencing the day after his ordination.

“…I presented myself to each community asking for their prayers, introducing myself personally to them, letting them know how hurt I felt that they could not be in the ordination but that we will make up for it, that we will build relationships,” Bishop Persaud said.

He mentioned that the visits continued every Sunday until the authorities issued a further lockdown.

Bishop Persaud asserted while everyone is “slowly” learning to live in the present conditions, there are lots of lessons to be learned from this experience.


The choice to vaccinate

In giving an update on the vaccine rollout in Jamaica, Bishop Persaud mentioned that unlike other countries with multiple Covid-19 vaccines, the Oxford/AstraZeneca is only being offered. He did, however, share that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be “made available” according to news reports.

Bishop Persaud said while there are many persons taking advantage of being vaccinated, there exists vaccine hesitancy among citizens.

“That I think is connected to some fake news. And so, a lot of suspicion surrounding it, and I think even some genuine concerns by some people.”

To this end, Bishop Persaud reminded citizens that it is “extremely important” to be unselfish.

“This is not only about me, but also about protecting others. It’s an unselfish thing we are called to do. Even if I have some doubts or fears in my hearts about it, I still feel I will want to make that decision to be vaccinated… to truly offer others the chance to be alive,” Bishop Persaud said.

He asserted it is the responsibility of leaders in every sphere–political, religious and within families—to show by example. With this in mind, Bishop Persaud shared he is now considering promoting an appeal to wider communities on the need to get vaccinated.