By Matthew D. Ruhl, S.J.
Wednesday/November 7, 2018/Punta Gorda, Toledo District
Here at St. Peter Claver we keep our church doors open the day long. We have a little box for candle money that regularly gets rifled. But last week a fellow came in and rifled the Tabernacle, thieving a ciborium full of consecrated hosts. The fellow was apprehended when he tried to pawn the ciborium to a Catholic pawnbroker. I asked the arresting officer if he knew what the thief did with the hosts, and the officer said, "Ate them."
Despite this, we will not lock our church. I am not just saying this; it is true: Punta Gorda is full of prayerful, devout people. So many people drop into our church to pray and light candles it would be a sin to lock it up. So, with rebuilt Tabernacle and new lock, our doors remain open.
Well the countdown is on. Yours truly will be 60 years of age on November 24th. As a child I once asked my mother what it was like to give birth to me. She said: "Well, you were number nine so you came out lickety-split. And I remember them bringing you in with my Thanksgiving dinner. I was so happy to have a quiet Thanksgiving with my new son and not having to prepare a Thanksgiving dinner at home."
Tear downs. In Belize termites are very much a force to be reckoned with. They are Omnipresent Mighty-Mites. No Belizean home is a stranger to the little pyramid of sawdust that indicates termite presence. Two wood school buildings that had housed three classrooms apiece had to be torn down quickly after being shuddered. The buildings were ten-year temps that we had to use for twenty-five years. Finally, the termites had their way and they became unsafe for students. Vandals broke in and that would be just the beginning of the buildings being used for badness, such as fire, juvenile baby-making, habitation for homeless, drugs, et cetera. So down they came. In the last few years our enrollment went down so we can afford to lose the classrooms. However, enrollment is already on the upswing and we will have some decisions to make.
Plans are underway for our December 2nd Installation Mass for me as pastor. Villages are being informed, buses scheduled, choirs contacted, food planned. It should be, it needs to be, a celebration of Catholic unity amongst Toledo Catholics. Recall that the Toledo District of Belize is home to Punta Gorda and St. Peter Claver Parish. St. Peter Claver Parish has under its administration 36 village churches and 30 village grade schools all separated by washboard mountain roads: that's over 5,000 grade school students and 242 teachers. Languages: Qeqchi, Mopan, Spanish, Garifuna. So you can see how a unifying moment would be good for Toledo Catholics.
Speaking of the villages, our Jesuit Volunteers are working hard to animate Youth Groups in the villages. This year we must try another tack since Youth Groups run by the volunteers fall apart when the volunteers return to the States. Their task this year is to train local Youth Facilitators who will keep the Youth Groups alive after the Jesuit Volunteers depart. See the photo of Monica, Rebecca, and Matthew, our volunteers.
And finally, I have officially gone over to the Dark Side. I have an iPhone. The pictures of the volunteers and the demolition are mine. Trying to figured out how to take and forward a photo amused little Monica so much, she took that photo.