Fr. Dan Belanger, CSV, was ordained in 2007 and his first assignment as a young priest was to serve as parochial vicar at St. Francis Xavier Parish in Corozal Town, Belize. He worked alongside Fr. Christopher Glancy, CSV, who had arrived in 1998 — with Fr. Daniel Hall, CSV — to bring the Viatorian charism to the Latin American country.
Fr. Belanger reflected on that formative year this week, when he spoke to graduate students at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, in a class called Developing World: Latin America.
“I talked about my experiences in Belize, in the context of politics, people, events and how it changed my life views of Third World countries,” Fr. Belanger says.
Tom Gavin, an adjunct professor at Olivet, has taught the class for the last five years. He is a parishioner at St. George Church, where Fr. Belanger serves as pastor. But that wasn’t the only connection made during the presentation. The class meets in the stately Burke Administration building, in the center of campus. Its history dates back to 1906, when it was built by Viatorians as the keystone building for St. Viator College, and originally called Marsile Alumni Hall.
“I’ve been giving these talks for the last five years about my Belize mission as a young priest, but they were in a variety of buildings,” Fr. Belanger says. “This time, I actually presented in the old Viatorian College building. To say the least, it was awesome.”
During his eventful year, Fr. Belanger recounted working with the military and Catholic Relief Services after Hurricane Dean hit the Caribbean country in August, 2007, just two months after he arrived. The devastating hurricane affected 2,500 families in the Corozal and Orange Walk districts, destroying 400 homes and seriously damaging another 2,500.
He also described bringing together medical missions — including some provided by professionals from Viatorian parishes in the United States — with residents who needed basic medical care.
“The students were very responsive to my stories,” Fr. Belanger added, ” and got a more personal perspective of Belize.”
Fr. Belanger returned to the United States in 2008, serving as a substitute teacher at Saint Viator High School for one year before being appointed pastor of St. George in 2009, where he remains to this day.