Anyone who has committed themselves to following Jesus for any amount of time has learned that he seems to revel in pulling us out of our comfort zones. I am not a seasoned traveler and yet I found myself spending six weeks of my summer break from Seminary of the Southwest in our companion diocese, the Diocese of Belize.
My unlikely journey began on a trip back to Ohio for Convention in 2017 when I met the Bishop of Belize, the Rt. Rev. Philip Wright. Bishop Wright spoke about an English-speaking country with a young population and a church which needs more priests and deacons. He passionately outlined his desire for more female priests and hope that more female seminarians would visit so that girls in Belize’s Anglican schools could see more women in ministry. I had to restrain myself from shouting “Me, Me! Send me!” Having grown up around the all-male priesthood of the Catholic Church, I have a potent understanding of the need for girls to see themselves in their religious leaders. Bishop Hollingsworth has voiced a desire to see all seminarians travel to one of our companion dioceses abroad. Without kindness and faith from both of these men, I would not have gone to Belize, and I give them my greatest thanks.
I spent the bulk of my time in Belize shadowing the Rev. Barbara Rosado McBride. The Rev. Barbara is probably the hardest working priest I have ever met. She is in charge of four parishes and three schools, while simultaneously serving as chair of the board at another school. The Rev. Barbara is always going, always working for her church and her hometown, while dreaming of finding ways to do more. While I was in Dangriga, her primary church, Christ the King, had new windows installed. We spent an afternoon joyfully taking in the sight of workers improving the space. We often wandered the old Christ the King building and dreamed about where it would be in one year, two years, a decade. There are plenty of reasons to be discouraged. Yet, there is still hope to be found across the mountains, barren stretches, beaches and barrier reefs that comprise Belize. Everywhere I went someone was trying to feed me and they were always eager to tell me about their country. What I remember best about living in Belize is the kindness of the people.