On October 10, Hurricane Michael devastated areas in northern Florida. The near category-5 strength winds ravished the Gulf Coast. In South Florida, we got lucky. So far this hurricane season has not affected us, but we must help our neighbors to our north. Like many times before, the Belen community is being asked to answer the call.
Amid the destruction Michael left in its wake was St. Dominic Catholic Church in Panama City. Jesuit Father Willie Arias, our 7th Grade Spiritual Counselor, knows the two parish priests personally and can attest to the wonderful work they are doing in the area, both before and after the storm.
“The parish is a thriving community that, even though it is facing such hardships, refuses to let the near devastation of the hurricane hamper the saving presence of Jesus in the lives of the parishioners and surrounding neighborhoods,” said Father Arias.
The church’s roof has been torn off by the storm, and its community center, once host to a soup kitchen and religious education and parish meeting rooms, lies in ruin. Despite those obstacles, the parish continues to serve its community by being a distribution center for food, water and goods. Masses, baptisms and weddings are still taking place in the open air grotto of Our Lady, which was left standing.
“They need our help to continue to do the good work they are already doing and to begin the long process of repairing the buildings,” said Teresita Gonzalez, Community Service & Outreach Coordinator. “In order to do this we are dedicating one week, November 5-9, to raise as much money as we can to send to the parish of St. Dominic. Please consider making a donation.”
Belen Jesuit Preparatory School was founded in 1854 in Havana, Cuba by Queen Isabel II of Spain. The task of educating students was assigned to the priests and brothers of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits), whose teaching tradition is synonymous with academic excellence and spiritual discipline. In 1961, the new political regime of Cuba confiscated the School property and expelled the Jesuit faculty. The School was re-established in Miami the same year, and over the next decade, continued to grow. Today, Belen Jesuit sits on a 30-acre site in western Dade County, only minutes away from downtown Miami.