Belize City, Belize
The story of St. Martin de Porres Parish begins in the late 1960s because of a need to care for Catholics living on the western edge of Belize City. In 1969 the parish was officially founded, and Fr. Thomas Thro, S.J., served as the first pastor, celebrating Sunday Mass in the homes of parishioners. In 1971, building began on a church structure and a Jesuit residence. The parishioners selected the name Martin de Porres because of the saint’s care and concern for the poor.
The parish has grown considerably over the years. Today the parish grounds cover an entire city block that contains three school buildings, a church, the original building, a preschool run by the diocese, a soccer field and a basketball court.
Despite the changes, the parish remains deeply committed to those in need and firmly rooted in the neighborhood it helped to create. The surrounding area is often referred to simply as “St. Martin’s Neighborhood.”
St. Martin's has several programs that serve the community, such as Hand-to-Hand Ministries of Belize, which continues to build hundreds of new homes for those in need. The parish’s St. Vincent De Paul program has a Drop-In Center for seniors and an Outreach Center to feed the hungry and serve the youth of the south side.