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Aug 29, 2023

Holy Redeemer Cathedral Battles Serious Termite Infestation

Holy Redeemer Cathedral is a landmark in Belize City.  The church has been a place of worship for persons of the Catholic faith for well over a century.  But there’s a major problem, the woodwork inside the cathedral is being devoured by termites and despite an effort to address the problem, the church is turning to parishioners, alumni, as well as the business community for financial assistance.  News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.


Amelio Chi

Fr. Amelio Chi, Holy Redeemer Parish

“This cathedral is important, it’s the mother church for the whole diocese.  This is the seat of the bishop.  And, I think, this building is over one hundred years.”


Erected in November 1858, Holy Redeemer Cathedral is made of bricks that were recovered from the weights of sailing ships that ferried logwood and mahogany back to England.  Up until the 1920s, the exterior of Holy Redeemer Cathedral displayed those blocks, before the outer walls were subsequently plastered.  Inside the edifice, the pews, high altar and side altars are all made of mahogany.  Today, the interior of the bishop’s church is under direct attack by a large colony of termites.


Fr. Amelio Chi

“When we looked back where the altar is, above, we saw this brown thing and we got people who said it’s actually termites, so we do know that there was a lot of work to do.”


The century-old building has been battling a severe termite infestation for many years.  It was only when Fr. Amelio Chi returned to the parish a month ago, that he ordered a thorough evaluation of the structure.


Fr. Amelio Chi

“When I was assigned here, we were just coming in and seeing what is here, what do we need to do and being here from 1994 to 2001, coming here I see there’s a lot of things to be done, for example, Hurricane Lisa blew out one of the, actually two of the stained glass windows.”


The severe storm that ravaged Belize City last year, also left in its wake sludge which found its way beneath the wooden floors at the altar.  That combination of watery mud and rotting wood only made matters worse, as the invasion spread across parts of the cathedral.


Fr. Amelio Chi

“We called the pest control persons that are in here today and they made an assessment and they told us that the, as far as we know, we can see the nest is up there and we are told that the nest is coming down and spreading.  It has gone to a building, a room that we call the feeding program room and the walls are hollow, like plycem, so they had to spray that.  And then, behind the house, behind the cathedral there is also like a little yard.  There are some trees and they’re going towards the house and what we do know had to be done is to stop the infestation as quick as possible, and today that’s what is being done.”


It’s a long-term project to address this urgent situation.  Today, the church was closed to the public, presumably the first in a really long time.  To tackle the plague, however, the priest is turning to his flock for financial assistance with the project.


Fr. Amelio Chi

“Now we’re appealing to the congregation that because this is a long-term project, we will need to, after the spraying today, we have to get like a contractor to see what is actually behind, is there any damage, for example, even the floor.  So it’s like, after all of those things, you know, we need finance and the parish council members, we have sat down and one of the things we plan to do is a fundraiser through a bazaar that the parish normally has around the ending of November or the beginning of December and we also plan to do like a barbecue sale even before that.”


Isani Cayetano for News Five.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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