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Padre Cayetano, from Belize, welcomes people in four languages
Praise be to God, whose grace joined us all together that beautiful day on the border.
El Encuentro en la Frontera – The Encounter at the Border

By Mark McKenzie, SJ, Provincial Assistant for Pastoral Ministries

The day was clearly going to be a hot one, since the temperature was already past 80 when we began setting up the altar. It was Saturday morning, April 1, 2017, a day of prayer for peace and friendship - oración por la paz y amistad - in Belize.

Early in the day, a group of Belize Defence Force (BDF) soldiers set up the first large tent on open land at the end of the road uniting the border towns of Jalacté, Belize, and Santa Cruz, Guatemala. Soon after, the first bus from Punta Gorda Town arrived. Over the next two hours, eight other buses arrived from Belize, and hundreds of Guatemalans walked across the border. 

Three more tents were set up, along with 250 chairs – not nearly enough for a crowd that eventually grew to more than 600 souls.

The choir and musicians from Jalacté provided praise music in four languages: Spanish, English, Q’echi and Mopan. 

Bishop Christopher Glancy, Auxiliary Bishop of the Belize City-Belmopan Diocese, instigated this day of prayer in conjunction with Guatemalan Bishops Rodolfo Valenzuela Nunez of Vera Paz, and Domingo Buezo Leiva of Izabal. His invitation went out to all Christians, Catholics and Protestants alike. The prayer service included scripture readings, songs, preaching and prayer in four languages. 

Clergy at Mass
Church leaders and special guests following the prayer service for peace and friendship in Belize

The day was a celebration of Christian unity. Followers of Jesus Christ came together at a border created by man to acknowledge our oneness before our God. They prayed that those with political power would learn to allow the ultimate power of God’s living presence to overcome strife and fear.

They prayed that hope and love would guide our human decisions concerning how we deal with each other. 

Fr. Vo and Bishop Glancy
Fr. Derek Vo, SJ with Bishop Christopher Glancy
Father Derek Vo, SJ, pastor of St. Peter Claver Church in Punta Gorda, and a member of the Jesuits USA Central and Southern Province, planned the ceremony. 

Also in attendance was Archbishop Nicolas Thevenin, Apostolic Nuncio from the Vatican to Guatemala, who preached in Spanish. The English homily was delivered by Reverend Tanya Welcome, Methodist pastor in Punta Gorda. 

Said Badi Guerra, head of protocol for consular matters and border issues for Belize, members of the Organization of American States and members of the military from both countries also participated.

Praise be to God, whose grace joined us all together that beautiful day God gave to us on the border.

More photos can be found on our SmugMug account.


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