Belize

Mercy at a Glance

Founded Area of Ministries Website
1883 Education, Health Care, Justice Advocacy, and Pastoral and Spiritual Ministries www.sistersofmercy.org

Belize (formerly British Honduras) is a small country in Central America. It is the only Central American country with English as the language of commerce and education. Mayan people were its earliest settlers, and there are various other racial and ethnic groups who call Belize home, including among others: Garifuna, a blending of Caribbean and African; Mestizos, mixed blood of Mexicans and Yucatan Mayans; and Creoles, an intermingling of the early British settlers with African slaves. The majority of the population is Catholic, and the economy is based primarily on agriculture. There is a significant incidence of moderate to severe malnutrition, and road travel is difficult with unfinished and washed out roads.

The Sisters of Mercy arrived in Belize on the morning of 20 January 1883 in a response to a request by two Jesuit priests for them to teach the children in Belize. The seven sisters from New Orleans Louisiana (United States) established the first foundation in Central America and the Caribbean, and proceeded to start an English school and a Spanish school. These later became elementary and secondary schools.

Today Sisters of Mercy sponsor St. Catherine’s Academy (Belize City); Muffles Junior College (Orange Walk Town); Mercy Kitchen and Mercy Clinic (Belize City), the House of Mercy (Big Falls, Toledo); and the Guadalupe Spiritual Life Center (Belize City). In addition to these sponsored ministries, sisters minister in a diocesan office for faith and justice; serve as the director of religious studies at the Monsignor Castillo Diocesan Center, volunteer as a tutor and in the neighborhood, provide community services in communications and database management, and provide additional educational and health care services.