Fr. Joseph Laramie of the Missouri Province has been posting weekly narrative and photo updates about his Belizian experience, reflecting on mud-stuck trucks, inconsiderate roosters and people seemingly from another time, for family and friends following him on Facebook and email.
Laramie, 34, a St. Louis-area native, was ordained last June and finished his Jesuit theology classes at Boston College in January.
A month later, he began what will be a four-month pastoral assignment in Belize helping the Missouri Province Jesuits staff St. Peter Claver Parish in Punta Gorda and provide sacraments to the 40-plus Mayan villages in the surrounding area, most of which have a Catholic chapel.
Punta Gorda’s 5,000 residents include Garufina, people of African and Caribbean descent; Mopan- and Kekchi-speaking Mayans; and Mestizo, people with a mix of Spanish and Mayan ancestry.
His work is mainly sacramental _ Mass at St. Peter Claver Parish, Masses for school kids in Punta Gorda and villages, and Sunday Masses in Mayan villages, where his homily is usually translated into Kekchi by a Mayan leader at the villages. Songs and readings also are in Kekchi.
Next stop on his Jesuit journey is Kansas City, Mo.’s Rockhurst High School, where he’ll serve as director of pastoral ministry starting June 1.
But until then, readers can follow a Jesuit in Belize whose dispatches and reflections illuminate, educate and entertain. Two samples follow.
Jesuit novice and I went out for 3 Masses at far away villages. 7am Mass Sunday is near Guatemala border. It takes 2 hours to get there. After asking around, we decided to go Saturday afternoon. We would spend the night in the church or at the school. Details were a bit murky. The village has 1 phone. …
STUCK IN MUD.
Anyhow, novice John Paul Witt and I get in the truck at 3pm. We brought food, water, Mass kit, sleeping pads and blankets-- since we didn't know the accommodations. I drive. Hwy turns to gravel, to dirt, to mud. In some places, I get a running start and floor it to get through 2ft deep mud and water. In other places I go slow because I don't know how deep it is. I go slow in one spot and we get stuck. Salvadoran guy in bigger truck comes by, sees us. He is super helpful, hooks chain to our truck and his. No problems, we get unstuck.