New bishop, Moline native, brings needs of Belize ‘home’

Photo Caption: Auxiliary Bishop Christopher Glancy, CSV, of the Diocese of Belize City-Belmopan in Belize, baptizes Colton Kepple (in arms of his mother, Karen) at St. Thomas Church in Peoria Heights on July 29.

By: By Jennifer Willems

PEORIA HEIGHTS — Bishop Christopher Glancy, CSV, looked right at home at St. Thomas the Apostle Church last weekend as he celebrated Mass, preached, baptized babies and visited with people afterward, but his thoughts were still very much with the people he serves in Belize.

“We have a rich church in Belize, we just don’t have a lot of money,” said the Moline native, who was ordained the auxiliary bishop of the nationwide Diocese of Belize City-Belmopan on May 5. His mission appeal at St. Thomas came during his first trip home to Illinois since his episcopal ordination.

Joining the assembly at St. Thomas for the 11 a.m. Mass on July 29 were his mother, Judith Glancy, the parish nurse at Christ the King in Moline; his grandmother, Stella Hendricks, a member of Sacred Heart in Moline; and his brother and sister-in-law, Steve Glancy and Jane Ohaver, members of the Peoria Heights parish.

Bishop Glancy was baptized and confirmed at Sacred Heart in Moline and received his First Communion at Christ the King, where his family became charter members in 1967. He graduated from Alleman High School in Rock Island in 1978 and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Loyola University in Chicago. Bishop Glancy professed vows as a member of the Clerics of St. Viator on July 16, 1983, and was ordained to the priesthood on April 17, 1993, at St. Patrick’s Church in Kankakee.

Following ordination he did vocation work for his community and taught at St. Viator High School in Arlington Heights in addition to parish work. He was one of the first U.S. Viatorians to serve in Belize and ministered as an associate pastor and pastor in Corozal Town there for 12 years.

Bishop Glancy had just returned to the United States and was preparing to work in a Chicago parish staffed by his religious community when he was named auxiliary bishop of Belize City-Belmopan.

Rich in spirituality and committed lay people and religious, the tiny Central American nation has only 32 priests to offer pastoral care to 156,000 Catholics, Bishop Glancy told The Catholic Post between Masses last weekend.

“There are 12 active parishes and two churches that have priests full time that have not been designated as parishes yet,” he said. “And there are 130,000-plus villages, most of which have their own chapel.”

Mass may only be celebrated once or twice a month in those villages, so trained lay leaders conduct Communion services if there is a tabernacle, Bishop Glancy said. If there are no trained leaders available for a “Sunday Celebration in the Absence of a Priest,” the focus is on spiritual Communion.

Several of the needs he brought to the St. Thomas community involved the Catholic school system in Belize. He explained that while the government will pay for teachers’ salaries, the church must raise the rest of the money to run its 115 elementary schools, 11 high schools and three junior colleges.

In addition to fostering the Catholic identity and faith formation of the young people, these schools offer the best hope for escaping the gang violence that is rampant. The diocese is working on a new program to increase after-school programs, get parents involved and build a culture of life, Bishop Glancy said.

The Diocesan Education Commission also surfaced a need for a nutrition program.

“The children are coming to school without something to eat — and some have nothing to eat for lunch,” Bishop Glancy told the St. Thomas parishioners. “They’re getting one meal a day.”

The nutrition program currently helps families in greatest need but must be expanded to all the schools, he said.

Donations to the mission appeal would also help the Diocese of Belize City-Belmopan to buy new religion textbooks and cover the cost of sending seminarians to study for the priesthood, according to Bishop Glancy.

Beyond money, he asked for prayers.

“We work like everything depends on us and pray — we pray,” he said. “You will be in our prayers.”

Bishop Glancy told The Post that the connection between the Diocese of Peoria and Belize is strong, as he discovered again while reading a recent issue of Belize Studies. In one article, a Jesuit priest was talking about a retreat given by Bishop Edward O’Rourke, who had encouraged the priests there to come together and find ways to collaborate.

“I thought, ‘Wow. Look at how the Peoria diocese had an influence from years ago,'” Bishop Glancy said. “Bishop O’Rourke visited our school. I remember his outreach to the poor and now that has reached beyond the Diocese of Peoria to Belize.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: Those who would like to assist the Diocese of Belize City-Belmopan may send checks, made payable to the Clerics of St. Viator, to the Viatorian Province Center, 1212 E. Euclid Ave., Arlington Heights, IL 60004. Please write “Diocese of Belize” on the memo line or include a note that this is a donation for Bishop Glancy’s diocese.

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