Reflections on time in Belize: Sept. 11 – Sept. 18, 2023 – By Barbara Flores, SCN
The month of September carries profound significance both for the people of Belize and for the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, especially as we celebrate our 48th year of presence in Belize, aligning with the country’s 42nd year of Independence.
Reflecting on my time during this trip, I am transported back to ’75, when I first encountered the Sisters. As a young lay woman in the Sacred Heart Parish, Dangriga, I had the immense privilege of introducing Mary Lynn Fields, SCN to Belize and collaborating with these inspiring women in the pastoral team. Those formative years paved the way for my eventual journey to becoming a Sister of Charity of Nazareth. As I developed within SCN, I felt a deep kinship with Belize as it transitioned into a sovereign nation, drawing parallels in our shared growth, independence, and quest for identity.
Four years had elapsed since my last visit, and this trip was intended as a humble reunion with our Sisters, collaborators, and partners in ministry. But I hadn’t anticipated how profoundly I would be affected. The familiarity and warmth of Belize beckoned me instantly – the taste of fresh coconut water, the soothing evening breeze, the rhythmic Garifuna drums, the welcoming smiles, and the vibrant worship at St. Martin De Porres. Everything felt like home.
At Princess Margaret Drive, our community in Belize City has grown beautifully. Sharing moments and meals with Sister Carlette, Sister Kerry, Sister Sophia, and Melissa emphasized our commitment to “embracing intercultural relationships.” Each dish on the table, whether it was Sister Carlette’s rice and beans, Melissa’s frittata, or Sister Sophia’s bitter gourd, told a story of our diverse roots and backgrounds. Our shared experiences and discussions about our traditions, natural remedies, and environmental consciousness were living testimonies of our dedication to “caring for creation.”
Our visit to the Baron Bliss monument and the vivid Belize Sign was a picturesque moment, capturing the essence of our united front.
The journey to Toledo to see Sister Higinia on a two-seater domestic plane overlooking Belize’s natural treasures was awe-inspiring. Belize’s commitment to preserving its natural beauty resonated deeply with me, from the cerulean Caribbean Sea and pristine beaches to the majestic rainforest and Maya mountains.
Engaging with the committed souls in Belize – the seniors of LIFE, the Lay Leaders of Toledo, and the children of St. Martin De Porres Parish – reinstated my belief in the power of unity, peace, and justice. Their unwavering dedication to supporting the oppressed and marginalized communities of Belize is commendable.
As I conclude my reflections, my heart swells with gratitude. To witness the growth and unwavering spirit of SCN in Belize, in tandem with our partners, serving as a beacon of hope in a world that so desperately needs it, is an experience I will cherish forever.