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A Return to Belize

March 26, 2014

Mission trips are not just for the young.1456588_598859436870895_1080069784_n[1]

Just ask parishioners from St. Thomas More Catholic Community,  in suburban Las Vegas, a parish started by the Viatorians more than 25 years ago.

A group of five adults returned this month from the parish’s second mission trip to Belize, spending a week in ministry at St. Francis Xavier Parish in Corozal, where Viatorians are based.

“I love the people, and their simplicity of life,” says Bill Van Ooyen, a former corporate pilot who led the group for the second straight year.

They came from all walks of life, with experience in teaching, construction, school maintenance and entrepreneurship. Added together, they brought energy and know-how to the expansive parish — and a willingness to serve.1380544_598859340204238_1128113646_n[1]

“They are the greatest people, who are so grateful for any help,” Van Ooyen added. “And we’re committed to helping the Viatorians.”

During their mission trip last year, they built the foundation for a piggery, that has helped students at Chunox St. Viator with their hog operation, as part of their hands-on, animal husbandry education.

This year, the group laid the foundation for a chicken coop, where students will raise chickens in partnership with a nearby Mennonite Community.

Ironically, it was teenagers who fundraised for this adult mission trip. 1468555_598859176870921_987076209_n[1]Students at Saint Viator High School in Arlington Heights raised more than $1,000 from a school-wide pancake breakfast, which they donated to the cause.

Br. John Eustice, CSV, helped bridge the two groups. He was raised in St. Thomas More Parish and returned last spring from serving three years in Belize. He now is one of the campus ministers at Saint Viator High School.