Our Community - Father James Blount - "Preaching under the palms in paradise"

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 13, No. 45            December 4, 2003

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Father James Blount

In countries around the world, there are people from different cultures and races who practice a variety of religions, but all of them still serve a "higher being". All these diverse religions function in a similar manner, although some have a dissimilar beliefs and customs. This week, The San Pedro Sun is pleased to introduce a man who has been following the path of the Lord through Catholicism, and leading his "flock" along that same blessed path - Father James Edward Blount.

    Father Jim was born in Tampa, Florida, USA, on July 18th, 1958 to Maria and William Blount. He was raised in a large family, which included two brothers and five sisters. He attended Robinson High School and remembers how the students were like a strong family. He was an officer of the student council and a member of the high school marching band, which mainly performed at football games. In 1976, Father Jim graduated with several honors for various journalistic and sports achievements. He also gained a full scholarship to enroll in the US Navy ROTC in Gainesville, Florida. Father Jim recalled, "Our graduation in 1976 was an unforgettable one. As bi-centennial seniors, everyone had a strong feeling of love and patriotism, graduating two hundred years after our country gained its independence."

    Father Jim mentioned that his time at the University was wonderful and he enjoyed it. A fairly good student, he studied Political Science, Social Science, and Naval Science in order to become a lawyer like his father. However, he was becoming distracted by the many activities of a teenager, like partying and drinking, although he would always try to keep away from that kind of life. He started experiencing a difficult time at ROTC, as he was required to operate top-secret weapons. What really disturbed him though, was when a fellow colleague talked to him about the war, and boasted about the many people he killed and that he could not wait to do it again. As a result of these issues Father Jim made frequent visits to the school's counselor. In order to mend his heart, Father Jim prayed everyday to find a solution to his problems because he was so confused. Father Jim stated, "God spoke to me; I could here his voice as clear as bell. He said, 'Be an officer of my army.'" After receiving this message, he found it best just to drop out of school. Leaving school, Father Jim began working as a chef at Bume's Steakhouse, one of the most popular steakhouses in the US. Moving back to his hometown, he also worked at the local hospital as a central supply clerk and did construction work on skyscrapers.

    In the fall of 1992, Father Jim began studying in The Seminary of The Holy Apostles, where he studied Philosophy, Scriptures of Saints, Functions of the Church and Psychology, in which he received a Bachelor's and Master's degree. He also enrolled in The Society of Our Lady in New Mexico for spiritual training in the desert. At the end of his first year, Father Jim took vows of Chastity and Obedience and became a Benedictine Monk. He then spent an additional six years at the Holy Apostles before graduating in 1999. Father Jim mentioned that during his time there he met some famous people like Bishops, Cardinals, and Father Benedict Carshel. Finally, he was ordained as a priest in Corpus Christi, Texas, and was asked to perform his first year of service at the church in his hometown. Next, Father Jim returned to live in Casa San Jose, Texas for an additional year. Shortly after, his father passed away, so Father Jim went home again to spend some quality time with his mom who was having a hard time coping with his dad's passing. While in Tampa, he conducted masses at the local church.

    In 2001, Father Jim traveled to England and served as a missionary there for several months. Arriving back in the US, he began preaching to missions all over the country to raise money for churches in places like Africa and even Belize. During his last mission in New Mexico, his brother, Father Anthony Blount, a priest at Our Lady of Mount Carmen in Benque Viejo del Carmen in Belize, Central America, gave him a call. His brother's message was, "The Bishop of Belize needs another priest immediately. How do you feel about coming here?" Father Jim already had an assignment to go to Mexico, so he first gained permission from the Superior of the Community and the Society of Our Lady of the most Holy Trinity.

    Father Jim met his brother in Tampa, Florida and both flew to Belize on November 1st, 2002. Father Jim stayed in Benque with his brother for two months in order to become familiar with Belize. The Bishop then assigned him to work along with a priest from the Divine Mercy Church in Belize City who was about to retire.

    In January of 2003, Father Jim began preaching in San Pedro and is presently the island's pastor. He plans to also offer future services to three other churches, and among those is the Caye Caulker Roman Catholic Church. "San Pedro has great potential, both naturally and supernaturally. San Pedro is a very beautiful island, so are the people, and it needs good leadership in order to spiritually lift the community. Something God would grant and provide only if the people of San Pedro pray for it," Father Jim stated. He has also requested assistance from the Catholic church, to bring additional staff to help with several plans. These include inspiring the island's youth by involving them in projects to keep them away from drugs and other troublesome activities which they face in the community.

    Father James Blount is indeed an inspiration to many as he spreads the word of God and the goodness of life throughout "Our Community."

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