By Matthew D. Ruhl, SJ
Wednesday/July 11, 2018/Belize City
On Sunday, July 1, night after the 7 p.m. Mass, the parish officially, and finally, blessed SWIFT HALL. It was a quiet, understated affair with our parishioners only. There had been a public opening of the hall earlier in the year, but we wanted a to do a blessing with just the Martin’s family. After the blessing we enjoyed a little snack and then everybody went home to bed.
The school year has officially ended — praise God! The decibel level on the campus has fallen from jet engine levels to a much more modest and humane level. Yet, PROJECT HEAL and its programs are in full swing and…wait…what do I see? Ms. Dawn Wade is back in the classroom and do we enjoy having our freshly minted, 4.0 Billiken back in the fold with her Master’s in Special Ed. Welcome Home, Wade!!!
My old St. Louis friend John Godar has brought his daughter and two more Cor Jesu girls down to help out with the HEAL programs. It has been twenty years and more since I was there at Busch Stadium watching Cardinals baseball with John, Steve Murphy, and his sister Tina at the precise moment when sparks began to fly between Tina and John. I presided at their wedding and baptized their first two boys.
Speaking of old friends, Jeff ‘Panty-Ripper’ Pitts has returned to Belize and has brought with him his Robotics Course. The very first robot ever created in Belize occurred on Friday morning, July 6, 2018, by a team consisting of St. John’s College High School students and St. Martin’s Grade School students. I am personally very happy and proud of this moment and of this course. I believe this will ultimately transform education in Belize. Three cheers for the Panty-Ripper!!!
As if to constantly remind us at Martin’s what we need to be about, we buried a 17-year-old male this week. Shot in the face. A vicious execution.
At Mass last Sunday during the Consecration a young man wearing only shorts and carrying sticks marched up to the altar and started yelling at me and Fr. Quang about holy water and a police beating while showing us wounds on his back. A parishioner escorted him out after some tense moments. Police later informed me that earlier in the day the man had been at Martin’s bathing himself in the holy water font when a parishioner asked him to leave. Shortly after leaving the poor fellow got a beat down during a run-in with police. He thought someone at Martin’s had sicced the police on him. We certainly had not.
I am saying my farewells these days as I now have less than three weeks remaining in my Martin’s tenure. I had my last Mass at Mercy Kitchen. I had a little “fried chicken farewell” with my Bible Study Women. I celebrated my last Mass at the river village of Bermudian Landing, home of the Howler Monkey Preserve. A big loud howler made sure he said his farewells. The Farewell Tour is just getting underway, however, as there are lots of ‘goodbyes’ to be said.