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Belize 1913

Belize - At the Very Beginning

Belize is a small country in Central America bounded by Mexico, Guatemala, and the Caribbean Sea. Belize was known as British Honduras during the period from 1862 to 1974 – after the Spanish domination of Central America, Great Britain declared the region a crown colony named British Honduras. The early history of the region dates back to 1500 BC when the Maya civilization flourished. During the latter stages of this era (AD 800 thru AD 1000), it is estimated that the population of the area stood at around 400,000 interestingly comparable to the current population of the country of Belize. Belize has a total land area of just under 9,000 square miles and a population of around 325,000 making it a scarcely populated country at less than 40 per square mile. The country has several ethnic groups due to the combination of early Mayan presence, colonization by Spain and Great Britain, slavery, and immigration – Mestizos (35%), Kriols (25%), Spanish (15%), Mayan (10%), Garinagu (5%) and a few others. English is the official language making it the only country in Central America to have that, although Spanish is equally popular. It is a developing economy dominated by agriculture and tourism.(Wikipedia)

1913 *** On March 19 the following sisters began their pioneering work in Central America: Dominica, Alphonsus, Leokadia, Reinhildis. Fr. Versabel SJ invited them to British Honduras. The area of the first activities was at Benque Viejo. The sisters taught children there. In addition the sisters visited the sick and poor. In November of that year, three other sisters started to form the community in Corozal, near the Mexican border. Beside ordinary teaching sisters taught school girls crafts and cooking. Boys were introduced to gardening.

1921 *** El Cayo - a third missionary station was established there.

1923 *** Orange Walk - setting up that school was accompanied by tragedy. On board of the ship from Belize to Corozal were: Srs. Francis, Veronica and Mother Cecilia, Superior General, as well as missionary bishop Hopkins.The ship sank. Only M. Cecilia survived. A month after the accident three sisters from Corozal took a new job in Orange Walk.

1930 *** Corozal - here were adopted first postulants. During the visit of M. General Superior Aquina four candidates began a preparatory course to religious life in our Congregation for indigenous youth.

1931 *** Fairview, near Punta Gorda - the southern part of the country - the sisters found a house, suitable for novitiate. It was called "Nazareth". Postulants moved there from Corozal. Enthusiastic residents in Punta Gorda, came out to meet them at the ringing of church bells. The Sisters opened in the Fairview so-called "Little Flower School.

1932 *** Punta Gorda - Sisters took up teaching at St. Peter Claver school, and formed a new religious community in town.

1933 *** The Region of British Honduras, subjected to  the North-American Region thus far, become independent. The first regional superior was Sr. Salesian.

1939 *** Sisters started working in schools in Succotz near Benque Viejo, and San Joaquink near Corozal.

1940 *** Santa Elena near Cayo - two Sisters undertook work in the school.

1949 *** Belize - the capital city of the country of Belize - Sisters formed the base, which was to be the starting point for future central house of the Sisters, and those that will hold job in the Pallotti High School, under construction at that time.

1951 *** Belize - Sisters took over the St. Joseph's Parish school.

1955 *** Building of a new home was completed. On January 22, the convent was blessed and dedicated to St. Vincent Pallotti.
In autumn a hurricane, known as "Janet", destroyed the convent, school and church in Cotrozal.

1957 *** Belize - first High School students began to receive an education at  St. Vincent Pallotti's home.

1958 *** Corozal - Sisters took up a nursing work in St. Rita's hospital, built by the state.

1959 *** Stella Maris School for Handicapped Children was opened. Its enrollment numbered three blind children and one deaf and dumb child. In time, Stella Maris became a home and school for handicapped youngsters.

1961 *** Dedication of the new Pallotti High School took place.

Hurricane "Hattie" caused great damage to the mission in British Honduras. Pallotti Convent and Pallotti High School were especially hard hit.

1962 *** The "Road Apostles" started their new work. Every Sunday afternoon some sisters and lay helpers went up the road to teach religion to the scattered families there. Visits to the poor and sick became a regular practice.

1964 *** The government asked for sisters to take over nursing at Punta Gorda Hospital.

1968 *** Our district in British Honduras was declared an indepen­dent province.

 

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Source: Outline of History of Pallottine Missionary Sisters, by Sr. Dominika Rose, SAC, manuscript, Generalate in Rome 1970/1971

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* Our Way of Life *

"Our diverse talents and abilities, our differences in culture, nationality and age are assets for the richness of the community. Although we may be engaged in a variety of ministries, we all share the common call to apostolic discipleship in a community of the Catholic Apostolate of St. Vincent Pallotti."(OWL, 91)

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"Christ, the Apostle of the Eternal Father, and his mission are central to our personal and community life, giving meaning and direction to our thinking, our spirituality, our prayer, action and suffering." (OWL, 19)

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"As a community of disciples we are gathered around Jesus, the Apostle of the Eternal Father. Like the first disciples, we want to be with Jesus, be sent out by him and return to him to evaluate our service in the light of his presence." (OWL, 88)

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"As Pallottines, it is our special charism to foster growth in faith and love among the laity, to awaken them to awareness of their apostolic call, and to cooperate with them in furthering the apostolic mission." (OWL, 21)

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"Our relationships with one another should be marked by a love that bears all, believes all and hopes for all, a love that is neither conceited nor jealous, which hurts no one, nor is embittered or resentful. It is never discouraged but remains patient and kind. It rejoices with others and shares their suffering. It is with this kind of love that we should help and support one another." (OWL, 90)

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