By Matthew D. Ruhl, SJ
Wednesday/February 28, 2018/Belize City, Belize
The congregation at St. Martin’s has been growing ever so steadily. That is the good news. The bad news is some people leave in a huff because there are no seats available. That really distresses me. We definitely need a bigger church. Drier, too, as yet a new leak appeared recently. But in the meantime I have my ace maintenance man Esidoro building benches to go along the walls. We also have room for a few more pews.
Statistically speaking it was bound to happen despite the most earnest of hopes and the most fervent of prayers. A 12 year-old boy in one of our HEAL programs was murdered in Pregnant Alley on the South Side. He was the intended victim. An adult was also killed, apparently in an effort to shield the child. So many of our boys know the older they get the greater the likelihood becomes of them being killed. I wish I could say they were being melodramatic, but they aren’t. Death hounds our boys.
Last Saturday in a house directly across from our pre-school playground a husband murdered his wife as she slept, then took his own life. The bodies were discovered and the gawkers gathered as HEAL held a BINGO fundraiser in SWIFT HALL. This ghastly event has sent a chill through the neighborhood. And this tragedy is just one more bloody moment that colors the horizon of our children. Horizons of hope can be hard to come by on the South Side. Her funeral repast was held in SWIFT HALL.
On Thursday St. Martin’s hosted a Mass of Thanksgiving for outgoing Mayor Darrell Bradley. It has been the Mayor’s habit in his two three-year terms to have Masses for his Civic Employees at St. Martin’s. In his remarks at the end of Mass he credited his Jesuit Education at St. John’s and at St. Louis University for making him all that he is as a man of service. He told the crowd his parents could not afford post-St. John’s education but that he had been awarded a Jesuit scholarship to SLU. Frankly, in my view, he was a darn good mayor, and I am gratified that he publicly lauds his Jesuit training.
On Friday night I blessed a train. That’s right, a train. The new train at Old Belize. I also blessed all the Belize Tour Guides present who are the face of Belize to thousands of tourists who visit this beautiful country.
St. Apollonia. Do you know who she is? She is the Patron Saint of Dentists. And through her intercession, I regularly receive my oddest donation. My dear old friend Dr. Bob Butler, DDS, whose marriage to the lovely Ms. Tina I happily presided at years ago in St. Louis, keeps the gold he extracts from the mouths of his patients, with their permission of course, and when his drawer is full, he sells the gold and sends St. Martin’s the check. Splendid fellow. A bit macabre, but I’ll take it!
Yes, life on the South Side can be rough, but not unremittingly so. God sends us sunshine to keep us hopeful. Last week that sunshine arrived in the form of beautiful little bundle Madison Arthurs born into this world February 19th, the child of HEAL employee Pheona Staine and Michael Arthurs of our Parish Council. Mother and child are happy, healthy, and home. Congrats Pheona and Michael.