St. Martin de Porres parish is a Jesuit parish and a mission of the United States Central and Southern Province of the Society of Jesus.
The Jesuits have been serving in Belize since 1851. In the late 1890s celebrated Jesuit naturalist William "Buck" Stanton taught at St. John's College. The Boy Scout movement in Belize was introduced by Brother "Jake" Jacoby in Holy Redeemer parish during his long tenure in Belize from 1928 to 1957. Fr. Marion Ganey started the credit union movement in Belize (1937-1953). Fr. Richard Hadel published the first Garifuna-English dictionary in the 1960s, based on a much smaller, earlier version created by Fr. Jack Stochl in 1951. The current Catholic monthly "The Christian Herald" began publication in September 1979 under Jesuit Fr. Maher. Nearly 400 Jesuits have worked in Belize helping to found a variety of parishes and missions. The Jesuits serve as pastors at St.Martin de Porres Parish in Belize City and St. Peter Claver Parish in Punta Gorda. St. Martin de Porres Parish has two mission stations located in Rancho Dolores and Bermudian Landing. St. Peter Claver parish is largely Garifuna and has 34 mission stations and schools located in Q'eqchi and Mopan Mayan villages.
St. John's College (SJC), which "would become one of the largest and most prestigious educational institutions in the country," was founded by Fr. Cassian Gillett, S.J., in 1887 in quarters on the cathedral grounds. In 1917, SJC moved to a spacious Loyola Park campus south of town where it served as a boarding school for many who would become leaders in Belize and throughout Central America. The hurricane of 1931 destroyed the Loyola Park campus and took the lives of 6 priests, 1 brother, and 4 scholastics. SJC then returned to the cathedral grounds until 1952 when it moved to a spacious campus northwest of town. It now has 20 buildings to accommodate its secondary and junior college divisions and an additional extension division in town.
Through its ministries in parishes, educational institutions, and by initiating credit unions and cooperatives, the Jesuit influence on Belize has been substantial. Jesus tells us that the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. Jesus calls people to labor with Him. If you believe Jesus may be inviting you to be a jesuit let us know. If you know someone who you believe Jesus may be calling to live as a Jesuit let them know and share information about Jesuit vocations with them. If you believe Jesus has given you gifts to share and you would like to explore how Jesus is calling you please call the parish to schedule an appointment with one of the Jesuits. All of us share in the responsibility to pray for vocations, to beg the Lord to send people to labor in God's vineyard. God is both creative and generous in responding to our prayers.