Seriously folks, I asked Steve if this were some big secret and he said no and it was OK to blog about it so all you guys and gals get to know.
Belize is a natural choice to give vocation prospects a taste of mission life for several reasons: it is English speaking, it is relatively close (you could technically drive there), and it is relatively safe.A brother of our late Maryknoll Father Steve Woods is a pastor in Belize and has generously offered his parish as a vocations venue.
Formerly known as British Honduras, Belize gained independence in 1981 although over the years its territory has been claimed by Guatemala with whom it shares a rich Mayan culture. Most Belizeans descend from African heritage.
El Pasa/Juarez had been the venue of choice in recent years and prospects are still required to spend at least a week there prior to acceptance, but Belize may soon replace them. These experiences address the primary question of all applicants to Maryknoll: do you want to be a missioner overseas? If they decide early on that foreign mission is not their thing, everyone can save a lot of time, energy and ágita.
Some vocation prospect guys "in the pipeline" like Glen D'Angelo and Chace Olinger are so gung ho about mission that they have taken it upon themselves to travel to real missions in Bolivia and Japan respectively. They are overseas even as we speak.
And this just in from Br. Tim Raible, our vocations minister in California, our vocation guys are investigating Jamaica as a possible site for a Holy Week vocations retreat, hosted by Fr. Leo Shea.
Now before anyone gets his undies all in a twist, the "No Country for Young Men" subject line was just an attempt to be frightfully clever. It doesn't refer to Belize but rather to the USA as not offering sufficient enough a cross-cultural experience for young men discerning to join our ranks. So there.