Father Richard Ho Lung, M.O.P. - poet, teacher, musician - is the founder of the Missionaries of the Poor, one of the fastest growing religious orders in the world. Known as the "reggae priest," Fr. Ho Lung had a hit single and critically acclaimed musical. He and his band - Father Ho Lung and Friends - toured the world. In his spare time he taught literature at the University of the West Indies. In 1980, he left behind the fame and academic life, and founded the Missionaries of the Poor to serve the poor and downtrodden in his island home through service and song. Now, marked by a joyful sense of sacrifice and love, Fr. Ho Lung and his more than 550 brothers and his army of volunteers minister to thousands in eight countries around the globe.
Growing up, Richard and his family were very close. There was a lot of warmth and love, which led to a real sense of devotion to family life. Richard was brought up as a Buddhist. His mother used to bring him and his siblings to the river where they would pray and connect to the transcended God. He found out about Christ when he was in school when he was meditating and felt the Holy Spirit.
At the age of 14, Richard felt called to become a priest. He attended St. George's College in Jamaica. He was ordained July 4th 1971. Shortly after he started to become known as a priest who could sing. He became known as a reggae priest as he stared to incorporate music to the way he ministered, as a result of the kids he was ministering to did not want to go to church. He began to write songs so the children would go to church and were being brought to the Lord. The music Richard created started to take off publicly. Richard saw his songs hit the Billboard Charts, beating out other reggae musicians who were creating music as a profession. Richard was singing and preaching about the poor but he wanted to do more.
Richard built a house to continue to bring good news to the poor and build community. There are now seven homes where homeless people can be cared for and loved.
"Homeless people are people who are cast always. They are left at the police station, they are in the hospitals. The kids are abandoned and their parents do not pick them up. When you take them into your home the one important matter was this, they needed fellowship. They have nothing at all. What I have to do is to take on the burden of loving" explains Richard.
Father Richard Ho Lung is the Jamaican recipient of the Martin Luther King Humanitarian Award organizaed by the Jamaica America Society. He focuses on the poor, the sick, the handicapped. Their clothers are dirt dried and sweat drenched. Their faces lost. Their voices without hope. They are the dispossessed. When society rejects them Father Richard HoLung takes them in. He is painfully aware of the misery of humankind. As long as there is a beggar without food and shelter, he stretches out a helping hand. For him, it has been a life-long obsession with the poor. Father HoLung is a special kind of person. He has a keen sense of mission. In his words, he wants to give himself totally for the poor. "I want a life to take everything out of me."
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