On Oct. 18, 12 members of St. John Francis Regis Church, in Hollywood, Maryland, along with their Pastor, Father Ray Schmidt, travelled to Belize, in Central America, and built a home for a family in need. The group was led by Sister Luke Boiarski, director of the Lay Mission Volunteer Program, Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, based near Louisville, Kentucky.
This was the second house built in Belize by a team from St. John’s. In January 2014, parishioners built the “St. John’s Hollywood House” in honor of the SCN Sisters who taught at St. John’s School for 64 years. This year, the team built the “St. John’s Bill Schaefer House,” named for a member of the 2104 Team who passed away just a few months after helping with the first house.
The 2015 mission began with the team being commissioned at the Vigil Mass on Saturday, October 17th. Early Sunday morning (2 a.m.!), the team began their journey south. Once in Belize, the volunteers worked with representatives of Hand-in-Hand Ministries – also based in Kentucky – to prepare the site, gather materials, and build a house in 4 days.
On Monday and Tuesday, the team drove through flooded streets to get to the site and worked in the rain. Wednesday morning, the sun appeared, and the pine boards dried sufficiently to take paint. By Thursday afternoon, the roof was on, the bathroom was plumbed, all the windows were in and the doors were hung. A truckload of sand was brought in and spread to make the muddy yard navigable.
Rosa, who now owns the house, along with her family members, neighbors, and an individual who already received her own home through Hand-in-Hand’s “Building for Change” Program, worked alongside the St. John’s team every step of the way. This was the 271st home built in Belize as part of the “Building for Change” Program.
On Friday morning, after touching up paint, cleaning up scraps and packing up tools, the builders participated in a House Blessing and turned over the keys to the happy and very grateful family.
Of course, this opportunity to minister to the poor was an immeasurable blessing for each member of the team. We’d all like to see change in the world, and this was an opportunity to “be the change.”
For more information about how you as an individual or your family, church, school or other organization can participate in a similar mission experience, contact Sister Luke Boiarski at [email protected] or call (502) 348-1581 about this life-changing experience.