Raszkowski with graduate
Many Sanpedranos, people from other
parts of the country and those from abroad who have adopted San Pedro as their
home for some time now have heard of Father Robert Raszkowski. This gentle and
caring priest has been loved by this community for over four decades. The San
Pedro Sun has recently been informed by Father William T. Oulvey of the Jesuit
Community of Belize that our beloved Father Raszkowski will today leave Belize.
The following article was contributed by Father Oulvey and the San Pedro Sun is
honored to include this biography as part of "Our Community."
After 56 years of service to the People of God in
Belize, Father Robert Raszkowski is moving to St. Louis, Missouri for health
reasons. Father Raszkowski will join the Fusz Jesuit Community in St. Louis at
the end of August.
Father Raszkowski was born March
4th, 1914 in Berlin,
Wisconsin, USA. He entered the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) on September
1st, 1933 and progressed
through the usual course of studies.
In 1940, as a young
scholastic, Mr. Raszkowski, S. J. was sent by the Jesuits to British Honduras to
teach Latin and English at St. John's College. At the time, the college was
housed on the grounds of Holy Redeemer Cathedral. For three years he labored in
the field of education and grew to love the people and land of Belize. His first
trip to Ambergris Caye was made in 1942 when he, along with a number of other
Jesuits, spent their holidays there.
From 1943 until
1948, Father Raszkowski was away from Belize preparing for priesthood and his
Final Vows as a Jesuit. In 1948, he returned to St. John's College and became
the Head Master. This post he held until 1956. In 1958, he became Superior of
the Jesuit Mission and served in that capacity until 1963. From that point on,
he has been a teacher of Literature, History, English and Religion, first in the
high school division and more recently at sixth form level. In 1952, Father
Raszkowski initiated the sixth form program at St. John's College. From this
beginning, the entire country's Junior College system was developed.
Two of the great loves of Father Raszkowski's life are
being a teacher and being Pastor of San Pedro Roman Catholic Church. Not
long after he returned to Belize, Father Raszkowski began his labor to bring the
Word of God to the people of Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker. He performed his
first baptism in San Pedro on June 7th, 1949. The lucky individual was Pedro
Gonzalo Heredia. The first wedding he performed on the island was between
Meraldo Seliciano Gomez and Aurora Vasquez on May 27th, 1950. The year 1955 saw Father
Raszkowski named Pastor, a position he held for nearly 40 years. His last
regular pastoral visit was made on July 6th, 1997. He was last in San Pedro on
November 14th, 1999 to
celebrate the 40th wedding
anniversary of Abel and Martha Guerrero.
In the time he
served the people of the cayes, his mode of transport between Belize City and
San Pedro changed dramatically. For many years he traveled by fishing vessel
under sail, taking from six to twenty hours to complete the one-way journey.
Later, powerboats were introduced and Father Raszkowski used this faster means
of transportation. Lastly, the introduction of air service meant that Father
Raszkowski could quickly move between his two great loves: St. John's College
and San Pedro.
Always a teacher and educator, Father
Raszkowski sought to bring spiritual enlightenment to those he served. He
encouraged the development of the Lay Ministers who today carry on much vital
work in the parish. From baptisms to weddings, funerals to regular masses on
Sunday, Quince Años to Easter Celebrations, Father Raszkowski strove to bring
Christ's message of peace, forgiveness and love to all he met: old and young.
The Jesuit Community of Belize asks your prayers and good
wishes for Father Robert Raszkowski, S.J. as he begins his new life as a member
of the Fusz Pavilion Jesuit Community in St. Louis. Anyone wishing to write to
him in St. Louis may do so at the following address: Father Robert Raszkowski,
S. J., Fusz Pavilion, 3601 Lindell Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63108, USA.
The San Pedro Sun joins the community of San
Pedro in wishing Father Robert Raszkowski a safe trip and the best in his new
home. Although he will now be a little bit further away, his teachings will
always live on in us. Thank you Father Robert Raszkowski and May God Bless