By Matthew D. Ruhl, S.J.
Wednesday/November 28, 2018/Punta Gorda, Toledo District, Belize
November 19th was Garifuna Settlement Day, the day that celebrates the Garifuna people landing on the shores of Central America. The days leading up to Settlement Day were full of celebrations with Miss Garifuna and Miss Punta Gorda in attendance. There was a fete of music with Garifuna cooking, a Garifuna language translation contest, a Battle of the Drums competition, all culminating with a reenactment of the original landing followed by a parade to St. Peter Claver Church where Fr. Callistus Cayetano, a local Garifuna Catholic priest, celebrated Mass.
On November 23rd, I began celebrating my birthday with the Peter Claver staff with a big, fat turkey lunch, at which we also we also celebrated the birthday of friend and colleague, Claret Jacobs. On November 24th I turned 60 years old, celebrating with friends from Belize City along with Lissa and Tom Whittaker who traveled to Punta Gorda from Kansas City—God bless them! We all enjoyed a lovely dinner at a resort in the jungle. The Whittakers and I finished up the prolonged birthday celebration with a day trip to Placencia on the 26th. I am now 60 and officially on the road to Geezerdom.
I met with the St. Peter Claver Parent/Teacher Association. All are quite concerned with the direction of our school and frustrated with the lack of support the school has not been getting. I understand and sympathize with their litany of complaints. They want a fence around their school and have been requesting it for years. I explained that a fence around the school, especially a school with the acreage we have, is a big-ticket item requiring some planning. I asked what would be something that we could do immediately that would be a sign of hope. Agreement was fast, furious, and unanimous: fix the bathrooms. So our first project will be fixing up the grade school bathroom, a facility that has suffered Deferred Maintenance Syndrome for many years.
In the meantime the Parish Council is busy putting together the Installation Mass wherein I will be officially installed as Pastor. Our Parish Life Committee is also busy putting together our Annual Parish Fair to be held on December 15th. The Fair’s raffle proceeds will go towards a new church ceiling.