St. Martin de Porres Roman Catholic Church is located in the heart of a crime-ridden area and hosts a school which many neighbourhood children attend. Inspired by the call of Bishop Monsignor Dorrick Wright to “work on finding ways to return Belize to a peaceful and productive nation,” the parish organized a “Walk for Peace” starting in Corozal Town on February 1 and concluding yesterday, February 12, in Toledo. St. Martin’s Father Matthew Ruhl and others walked the entire length of Belize – being 300 miles – raising awareness about bringing lasting peace to the nation and also raising funds for the Catholic Public Schools. Coordinator Tanya Usher tells us more:
TANYA USHER – Walk Coordinator:
It was really great. We were so happy. Every time we got tired, and we thought about stopping, we would see a bunch of kids, or some people waiting up in the distance, and we knew we had to go one more mile and walk a mile with them. People came out, all the schools, almost all the Primary Catholic Schools participated. We had schools even on the weekends. Teachers came out when they didn’t have to. We had people who just walked a few miles with us. That’s what we wanted. We don’t think walking can stop crime, and we don’t think walking can bring peace, but at least it will get people thinking about it, and looking for their own ways to stop crime and bring peace.
Father Ruhl did not quite make it all the way, as in Independence he was ordered off his feet by medical authorization. But he told PLUS News that he has a specific desire to be fulfilled by this event.
Father MATTHEW RUHL:
My desire is that it not only inspires Christians, but it inspires all the citizens of Belize, to say “Look, it’s just a small minority of people who are causing the trouble.” And there’s so many, the overwhelming majority of Belizeans are peace lovers. So the peace lovers just gotta stand up, and take control of their country.
Father Ruhl was warmly welcomed by parishioners of St. Martin’s and students of the school. He told reporters that he was refreshed by the support he met on the route.
Father MATTHEW RUHL:
About 150 miles, I got down Independence, and a doctor looked at my feet and said, “You’ve got huge infection underneath your callouses and underneath your toes.” She took several layers of skin off, and then two toenails, and I let the others finish the walk. I am here to tell you, I want you to know that Belize is filled with beautiful people. Belize is more beautiful that a lot of Belizeans know. I love my Saint Martin de Porres’ students. They gladden my heart.
The group averaged about 30 miles per day.