belen_jesuit_preparatory_school_sudent_web.jpgStudents of Belen Jesuit Preparatory School in Miami spent 10 days building a bridge for the village of Pescado Bobo in the Dominican Republic about 40 miles outside of Santiago during a mission trip to that country.

“The purpose of the trip is to expose our students to a reality that they are not familiar with,” Father Guillermo García-Tuñón, principal of Belen and moderator of the trip, said. “The majority of the world lives in poverty and this gives them an opportunity to work side by side with the poor and experience for 10 days what they live all the time. The trip allows the students to serve and to exercise Belen’s motto of being ‘men for others.’”

This is the 30th year Belen students have participated in a summer mission trip to the Dominican Republic. The latest group that participated in the June 24 to July 3 mission  totaled 93 people: 51 Belen students aged 16 to 18; 21 girls from Carrolton School of the Sacred Heart and Our Lady of Lourdes Academy, aged of 16 to 18; five doctors; 14 Belen alumni; and two Belen parents.

The group took along a container filled with medicine for the clinic and tools for the construction of the bridge. In addition, many of the building materials were purchased locally so that the cost would be more manageable. In total, the project cost $40,000 which was paid for by donations.

During a typical eight-hour workday, the volunteers spent time constructing the bridge and the clinic, ending with daily Mass, while breaking intermittently for meals. 

“The hope is that the students become more aware of the presence of God in their lives and the reality of so many, that they are motivated to love and serve not only in extraordinary circumstances like the mountains of the Dominican Republic, but daily,” García-Tuñón said.

Belen, which was founded by Jesuits in 1854 in Havana, Cuba,  is celebrating its Golden Jubilee during the 2011-2012 school year. The task of educating students was assigned to the priests and brothers of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits).

In 1961, the Castro regime of Cuba confiscated the School property and expelled the Jesuit faculty.  The school was re-established in Miami the same year and has grown over the last five decades and currently has an enrollment of 1,500 male students in grades 6-12.


BRIDGE-BUILDING: Students of Belen Jesuit Preparatory School in Miami mix cement for a bridge-building project in the Dominican Republic during a June 24-July 3 mission trip to the country.