Trivia Night Raises $36,000 for Jesuit Apostolates in Belize

Thank you to everyone who turned out for the Belize 2020 Trivia Night on October 18! Held in the beautiful Si Commons at St. Louis University High School, the event drew 300 people for an evening of fun and fundraising to benefit Jesuit apostolates in Belize. A total of $36,000 was raised.

In addition to the competitive trivia contest, attendees participated in 50/50 drawings and other activities while sharing yummy snacks brought from home. One of the highlights of the evening was a raffle for a dinner with the Jesuits which raised $3,000!

The Belize 2020 Core Team is extremely grateful for all those who volunteered, gave so freely of their time and offered incredibly generous donations. Thank you!

Check out the gallery of images below for a sampling of the Trivia Night fun!

Belize 2020 Trivia Night!

Please support the work of our Jesuits and colleagues who serve the people of Belize. We are hosting a Belize 2020 Trivia Night to raise money for this important ministry. We hope that you will join us for a fun and profitable evening.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Si Commons
St. Louis University High School

4970 Oakland Ave.
St. Louis, MO 63110
(Free parking in the lot adjacent to Si Commons)

Doors open at 6:00 pm with the trivia contest beginning at 7:00 pm.

  • Cash prizes for the top two trivia competitors

  • Beer, soda and water included with admission

  • Bring your own food/snacks

  • Mulligans 6 for $10

  • 50/50 drawings and much more


All sponsorships include a table of 8 and recognition at the event
Platinum Level - $5,000
Gold Level - $2,500
Silver Level - $1,000

Event Tickets

Tables of 8 - $200
Individual Tickets - $25

Rainy Season’s Arrival—An Anniversary—An Honor

By Matthew D. Ruhl, S.J.
Thursday, June 6th, 2019, Punta Gorda, Belize

Fr. Matt received an honorary doctorate in humane letters from the University of Scranton in May.

Fr. Matt received an honorary doctorate in humane letters from the University of Scranton in May.

The Rainy Season arrived right on cue with a good thundershower in the wee hours of June 1, Opening Day of Hurricane Season. Of course now at Masses all around the country the Prayers of Petition will including the prayer for protection against all storms. Down south here we are particularly susceptible to flood due to the very poor quality of so many roads. “I can’t get through” is the most common refrain of the Rainy Season.

This month I celebrate 25 years of Pastoring. I was first appointed pastor of St. Matthew the Apostle Catholic Church in North St. Louis 25 years ago in 1994. It has been thus far a genuine adventure. If I were to pick out the greatest reward of these 25 years it would be of the very good, soulful friendships made along the way. What is also gratifying is that after 25 years, I am still extremely happy with my choice of apostolic labor within the Society of Jesus. And it was my dear friend Ed Kinerk, S.J. who patiently listened to all my desires as a scholastic and observed, “Well, Ruhl, we need to train you for parish work.” A couple of years after that, I was the Associate Pastor at St. Joseph’s in East St. Louis when Ed called one morning from the airport and said, “Ruhl, I gotta get you to St. Matthew’s.” Now, here I am, 25 years later, in Punta Gorda, Belize, Pastor of St. Peter Claver Parish.

On May 24th, I received an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from the University of Scranton. Family and friends were there and it really was a very enjoyable weekend. I am truly honored by that award, especially as it came, unbeknownst to the givers, at the beginning of my 25th year as a pastor. All love and respect to my dear friend Scott Pilarz, S.J., President of the University of Scranton.

Belize Goes to Court—Preparation—Sargassum—We Get a Garden—Rev. Dr. Ruhl at Your Service—Summertime In PG

By Matthew D. Ruhl, S.J.
Wednesday/May 15, 2019/Punta Gorda, Belize

Photo credit: Paul Streltsov

Photo credit: Paul Streltsov

The country has voted to go to the International Court of Justice to settle a Guatemalan claim against the territorial integrity of Belize. This land claim of Guatemala’s has been a thorn in the side of Belize for decades. Yesterday, in a referendum wherein Belizeans went to the polls, the nation decided to meet Guatemala at the International Court of Justice at The Hague to settle the dispute.

 As is my pastoral habit of 26 years, the first year of a new pastorate is spent primarily getting to know the people and seeing how the parish does things. I listen to hopes and complaints. I look for parish strengths and weaknesses. And now my Claver 2025 Team, with the Parish Council, are polling parishioners to discover what they believe the parish needs. The response has been overwhelming. There will be no shortage of input as we put together a five-year plan.

 Sargassum has arrived. The algae, not a seaweed, comes from the Sargasso Sea in the North Atlantic. It is essential habitat to many species of fish and turtles who seek its shelter for breeding and refuge. The problem is that when it lands on our beaches it smells like rotting eggs. The good news is that sargassum is wonderful compost for gardens, very high in nitrogen. So, for the sake of our new garden, we will put up with the smell. Although Claret and Amy, who are closest to the garden, want time off until the sargassum dries.

 Speaking of gardens. Yes, we have planted a garden and added to our landscaping. There are no florists in PG, so for weddings, funerals, Easter, Mothers’ Day, etc., we have to go to Mexico or Guatemala, making expensive flowers even more costly. We had to fence the garden for, as you know, our campus is open and every passerby thinks any flower is fair game. We got plenty of free cuttings from a parishioner who owns and operates the very lovely SPICE FARM, a botanical garden of exquisite beauty about 40 miles north.

 On May 26th, I will be awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Scranton. I am deeply touched by this honor and have every intention of enjoying the moment. Some family and friends will be joining me and I am very happy about that too. I was on the Board of Trustees at Scranton for six years in the early 2000s and now have some of my dearest friends living in Scranton. You can bet I shall WIDELY distribute photos of me in cap and gown.

 Finally, with summer around the corner, I want you to report that we who have absolutely no air-conditioning have been enjoying daytime temps in the lower 90s, with heat indices in the 105 to 110 range. Our little grade schoolers and teachers have not even any fans and must endure the swelter. No heat days off in PG. The school year lasts until the end of May.

Christmas at Melhado—An Unwelcome Christmas Gift—Christmas in PG—Christmas in the Jungle

Xmas 2018.jpg

By Matthew D. Ruhl, S.J.
Monday, December 24, 2018, Punta Gorda, Belize

The Jesuits of Belize got together for their Christmas Dinner on December 17th. It was our first Christmas in our slowly renovating Melhado Hall. (Just for the record, Melhado Hall was built with money earned by a Belizean bootlegger who sailed his rum across the Gulf of Mexico and up into New Orleans from Belize [then British Honduras] during US Prohibition.) Santa made his appearance and distributed his presents and Willie John Snyders won the prize for the most festively dressed, most appropriate as he is the most colorful character amongst us.

 While in Belize City for our Christmas dinner, I awoke one night with a dull, throbbing toothache. Went to the dentist. It appears Santa has brought me a root canal for Christmas. I will return to the city December 27th for this joyful experience, to be followed by a new crown. Until then it's ibuprofen and antibiotics. (LaBarge, do you realize that means NO booze over the holiday?!) So, while I close out the year with a root canal, I will begin the New Year with a crown!

 On December 21st, the St. Peter Claver Staff had their Christmas Party, prepared by the Ms. Catalina, Ms. Olive, and Fr. Penn. We had a big fat dinner of turkey, ham, potato salad, cranberry, stuffing, with cakes and pies for dessert. We exchanged gifts. I thanked the staff for being such a hardworking and agreeable lot. Pointed out the changes that have already come to St. Peter's and warned them of the changes coming.

 With Sunday falling the day before Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, Sam, Penn, and I have a marathon of Masses to do. When it is all done we will have said 18 Masses in 15 different churches. (So, LaBarge, as you can see there was no time for booze anyway.) The three of us will enjoy our own little Christmas celebration on December 26th at a lovely jungle resort restaurant.


Wooo-Hooooo—First things First—Good Fences Make Good Neighbors—Honoring a Patroness

By Matthew D. Ruhl, S.J.
Wednesday/December 12, 2018 /Punta Gorda, Toledo District, Belize

Bishop Larry Nicasio

Bishop Larry Nicasio

On December 2nd it became official. I am the Pastor of St. Peter Claver Catholic Church in Punta Gorda—–Wooooooo—–Hooooooooo.  About 800 people crammed into and around the Church.  Prayers and songs were offered in English, Spanish, Qeqchi, Mopan, Garifuna.  And I understood every word………of English. When it was done everybody moved over to the parish hall for tamales and sandwiches.

The very first thing on my agenda is to push Mass attendance. I plan on doing this by boosting the many committees that went moribund in the last few years: Lay Ministers, Youth Group, Liturgy Committee. These things sound boring and inconsequential, but I assure you when these committees are vibrant they make ALL the difference on Sunday morning.

Of course our grounds need work, a lot of work. But here is the problem and it is a really big problem. Before we can repair our grounds, we need a fence in order to maintain our repairs.  From the moment I arrived people were saying to me, “We need a fence.  We need a fence.”  After three months of being here, I see why so many teachers, parents, and parishioners want a fence. This Sunday past a local election was held. Our school is a polling station. The crowds trashed our grounds.  Urinating in the yard, drinking their rum in the church garden and school verandah, mountains of trash discarded which the local canine crew spread across the grounds. Even without an election, vandals break into classrooms. People cut through the grounds on foot, on bikes, in cars, and on motorcycles. Folks have no problem stealing the few flowers we do manage to grow.  Revelers and lovers will settle on our verandah at night with their weed and alcohol and radios. During the week anybody can just walk into any classroom they want to pester a teacher or a child.  On the weekends our campus is literally treated as a public park. There once was an attempt at fencing one side of the school grounds, but money fell short and the fence is filled with gaps where there were supposed to be gates.  I will begin the process of looking into fencing our 20 or so acres. This will be terribly adventurous as fencing is hardly a sexy sell and our Sunday collection averages about $700 per Sunday, or $350 US.  And a fence is only the first stage in what needs to be a great overhaul of the grounds.  I think I’ll be here a long time.

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Today we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The Patroness of the Americas is honored here with a candlelight procession around the neighborhood followed by Mass.  She is important to us for many reasons, not least of which is her protection of us from hurricanes and devastating storms. As the Hurricane Season has concluded without a destructive storm, we give thanks.

Garifuna Settlement Day—A Geezer—Project #1—Goings On

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.

Fr. Matt and Claret Jacobs celebrate their November birthdays with sweet treats.

Fr. Matt and Claret Jacobs celebrate their November birthdays with sweet treats.

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.