Brother Andrés coffee beans

Jack’s Mustard Seed Story

“It helped me realize that people need more than just shelter and food, they need love...” Jack Maier traveled to Jamaica ready to work. What he quickly realized though, is that while he brought his talent and ability, he would be given so much more. Jack joined the mission as part of St. Raphael’s youth ministry. While at first he had concerns over fundraising, he drew confidence in his experience in construction and manual labor. “I felt like I had something to offer, and a particular skill to share.” But, the gifts he experienced during his summer mission trip were not the ones he expected, and even began with a bit of disappointment.
“When I first learned about the schedule for the trip, I was frustrated with how little labor we would be doing.” He had a desire to “bring something to the table,” hoping to manually build a better life for the residents of Mustard Seed. But as the week went on, Jack began to to understand that the benefit of work would be outweighed by the value of connection. “I realized that the real value we brought was our ability to play,” Jack begins. By spending time with the residents, he began to understand that regardless of skillsets, is the ability to give something of eternal value. “People need more than just shelter and food. They also need love, friendship, excitement and attention.”
The impact deepened as the Lord showed him the paradox of true joy amidst living without. “By worldly standards they had been dealt a terrible hand.” Most residents at Mustard seed are born poor, disabled, and are abandoned by the people who are meant to love them. “To walk into a place filled with with hardship and see some of the most profound joy and laughter turned my world upside down.”
For a young Jack, this helped him further recognize the value of each life, regardless of ability. He began to see the importance of rejecting the view that to be valuable one must be successful by the world’s standards alone. Unexpectedly, as he stepped further from the world, he found himself getting closer to heaven. He recalls quite powerfully, a particular experience at Jacob’s Ladder. “Here I was in this place with no air conditioning or hot water, filled with people with physical suffering, and it is the best place I have ever been. ‘This is like heaven,’ I said to another missionary. I am convinced that Jacob’s Ladder is the closet place to Heaven I have ever been.”
The impact of his week in Jamaica is something that Jack still often recalls. “It's the vision of the Kingdom of Heaven that I have never been able to shake. I brought them a couple of days of childcare, and they brought me heaven and the presence of God. It’s something that I still think about when I am doing service work...when I serve the poor I am giving them bread, but they are giving me the Kingdom of God.”
Jack attended St. Bede school, Central Catholic, and is a 2021 graduate of Notre Dame. He is currently pursuing a PHD in physics at MIT with a focus in ultra-fast pump-probe Spectroscopy. He is engaged to be married this summer to his college sweetheart. Together they are parishioners at St. Paul’s Parish in Cambridge where they continue to live out Matthew 25:40. When asked to share about himself he responded, “I love that I get to study the beauty, depth, and complexity of God’s creation. It continually fills me with wonder and awe. God has given me an incredible life.”