Mary Mileto House – Rockville Township, Belize (March 26 - April 01, 2023)
The Commissioning Ceremony for the St. John’s team leaving for Belize was held at the 5 p.m. Mass on March 25, 2023. This effort was dedicated to building the Mary Mileto House, in honor of a long-time St. John’s parishioner, a dedicated nurse and mother of twelve, who passed away in 2019. The nine volunteers were joined by Brenda Gonzalez, SCN, who felt like she was coming home to visit both St. Mary’s County, where she taught at St. Mary’s Academy from 1978-1982 and lived at St. John’s, and Belize, where she lived from 1997-2002 and 2012-2013. It had been ten years since her last visit and she was excited to see the improvements since then. Once again, we were blessed with support from many, including the children’s choir who assisted at the Mass by singing beautiful hymns, such as “We Are Called”. The parish and the school continue to partner in providing mission support.
The recipients of this house were Ms. Keren and her three children, two boys and one girl. Ms. Keren was looking to regain independence and set a positive example for her children, who want to be a veterinarian, pediatrician, and firefighter. This build was proof that many hands make light work as Keren had recruited several of her family and friends to assist. In addition to helping build the home for Ms. Keren, the volunteers had also brought plenty of shoes, books, composition books, pencils, balls, and beautiful handmade dresses that had been donated for this mission effort.
The volunteers had a busy week in addition to building a home for Ms. Keren. They enjoyed a tour of Belize City, visited a favorite local artist shop, Lizama’s Woodcarving, and attended Sunday Mass at St. Martin De Porres Church, a favorite. The volunteers also visited the Hand in Hand Ministries (HIHM) Fowler Community Outreach Center. The team spent time with the children in daycare and learned about the HIV/AIDS ministry. In the evenings, the volunteers learned more about HIHM’s Building for Change Program, visited with the local SCNs, and relaxed to a performance by the Garifuna Dancers. The volunteers cherish the immersion experience and participating in the HIHM house build #480.