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Jul 13, 2017

Help Needed to Demolish Historic Pallotti Convent

Established in 1955, the Pallotine Convent on Princess Margaret Drive in Belize City has served generations of the Catholic order, which in addition to running Pallotti High School does missionary and charitable work in all the districts of Belize. It has survived countless natural disasters, but time has taken its toll, as recent inspections found the three-story concrete structure unsafe to live in for the mostly elderly members within its walls. The Pallotine Order is asking the community which it has served faithfully for a century to give back as their cherished home is set to be demolished. News Five’s Aaron Humes took a tour and has the following report.

 

Aaron Humes, Reporting

It’s not easy erasing over six decades of history and life’s work. But the clock is ticking on the long-standing home on the Pallotine Sisters of Belize, which is scheduled for demolition.

 

Stephen Franco

Sister Stephen Franco, Resident, Pallotti Convent

“A few years ago, about two or three years ago, we noticed little cracks around the place, and we took it very lightly, because we just said cement cracks now and then. But as time grew, we realized that these cracks was just going around and around the building, so that you will see that the roof has completely dislodged itself from the main building. And two incidents that has, I would say added to this, is the earthquake between Guatemala and Mexico really I think shook the building that made us become aware that this was very serious, because the cracks got wider and wider, and also after Hurricane Earl we saw movements of the cracks. And so we began to realize that something drastic is happening, and we called in some contractors; we called in some friends, we called in some people to see what could be done. But we realized, from their observation and from their knowledge, that this was far beyond repair.”

 

The demolition will cost more than one hundred thousand dollars. Our tour of the historic colonial-era structure shows its wear and tear, and only the support beams added to the building after 1961’s Hurricane Hattie are holding it up now. Member of the Board of Governors and alumna of Pallotti High School, Andrea Lui, details how the community can help.

 

Andrea Lui

Andrea Lui, Pallotti High School Alumna

“We are in the process of setting up a GoFundMe account; but in the interim we have set up a Holy Redeemer Credit Union Savings Six account, number seven-four-four-four-seven, and we’re pleading to the public to contribute, to help the sisters. And we also set up a Friends of Pallotti Gmail account, and that’s friends-dot-of-dot-Pallotti at gmail.com, if they want to send Sister an email that they are hearing our plea of them, and if they can help in whichever way possible.”

 

For now, the eleven sisters who live in the convent are staying in the adjoining infirmary, though that too may be endangered as the convent could topple onto it under hurricane or strong tropical storm-force winds. The adjoining Pallotti High School, started in the Convent shortly after its construction, will be hosting a telethon in August to help raise funds. The sisters are counting on a community that will give back in recognition of the century-long work of the order across the country.

 

Josefina Alamilla

Sister Josefina Alamilla, President, Pallotti Convent

“We try to save it because our ministries come from here and that is how we interact with the people as Sister mentioned. Like every week – every other Wednesday, we have at our door sometimes up to seventy elderly coming for food. It’s not much, but it’s provision – basic provision for them. And then we have counseling going on here; we have students that want to do a little work around; they ask please let them come to the convent to work, so we work with the youths also. People just come here, they gravitate here, because on Sundays we feed the elderly displaced people – the homeless – we give them breakfast in the morning and lunch during the day, and just the other day one of them as we came from Mass he came to me and he said, ‘Sister, please pray for me’ – he gave me his name – ‘I’m going to a rehab for drugs; just pray for me.’ Little things like that – if we did not have this place, we would not be in touch with the people around. And so the people are the ones who touch our lives.”

 

Aaron Humes reporting for News Five.

 

The H.R.C.U. account again is 7-4-4-4-7. There are seventeen serving members of the Order, which was established with the arrival of four nuns in 1913.

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