The Pallottine Sisters have moved into their new convent two years after taking the difficult decision to demolish their old one at Princess Margaret Drive, Belize City. The new convent building was blessed by Bishop Lawrence Nicasio of Belize City and Belmopan in the presence of the community and about five others.
About two years ago, the Pallottine Sisters were confronted with an ordeal they found very difficult to face on their own. They reached out to two lay friends in the wider community and invited them to come to one of their meetings.
“We shared that we were informed that we were living in a ‘time bomb’ as the convent was sinking and sinking rapidly. This necessitated the Sisters moving out of the convent that had been in existence since 1953,” according to a Christian Herald report.
The diocesan monthly said that architects examined the building and concluded that the convent had sunk 12 to 14 inches all around and that the crown beam supporting the roof was completely dislodged from the main building causing numerous cracks on the inside and outside of the three-storey building.
“It was no longer safe for anyone to remain in the building, so we were advised to vacate as soon as possible. We never imagined that after serving our community for the past 104 years we would be faced with such a traumatic experience in our twilight years.”
The convent had been the home for over 100 Sisters. The Pallottines have contributed to Belizean society by providing educational scholarships to over 3000 young women at Pallotti High School since 1957, scholarships to children in Toledo, sacramental preparation in Orange Walk and ministry to the homeless and elderly in Belize City and Toledo (meals, food hampers, medical care, recreation, spiritual guidance).
The work was done in two phases: Phase I – Demolition of existing structures cost BZD$200,000. This included the removal of windows and other structures that could be salvaged and used for construction of another building, and the demolition of the existing structure. Phase II – Construction of a living facility and a resource centre at an estimated cost of BZD$1m.
The Sisters’ first fundraising activity was a telethon which raised funds for the demolition. Funds for the two phases were raised through other activities and donations from local and overseas donor agencies and dioceses.