Since its foundation in 1958, SOLT has involved lay missionaries in her ministry, the presence of the laity being integral to her identity. Volunteer opportunities have developed over the years and can be placed in two categories: Mission Trip and Year-long Volunteering.
Volunteering always provides a transformative experience, be it through mission trip experiences or year-long commitments. Encounters with the poor, discovering another culture and leaving one’s own home for a time, friendships forged through ministry, the stretching and challenges of simpler life: these elements open horizons for encounter with Christ in the lived Gospel message.
A certain growth, exclusive to volunteer life, witnesses to the truth that “man can only find himself in the sincere gift of self.”
(n. 24, Gaudium et Spes) Though ministry varies depending on the location of the mission, the experience of volunteering with SOLT will always involve opportunities for a rich spiritual encounter with Christ through the sacraments, adoration, praying the Liturgy of the Hours with the priests and sisters, and the possibility of regular spiritual direction. Volunteers also have occasion to grow and to build life-long friendships through living in community, and by pouring themselves out in life-giving service wherever they are needed.
BENQUE VIEJO, BELIZE
Volunteers have the opportunity to serve as teachers either at Mount Carmel High School (MCHS) or John Paul II Junior College (JPIIJC). MCHS was founded in 1990 by SOLT as a “last chance school” for students who, due to economic or academic challenges, would otherwise not be able to attend high school. Still faithful to its original mission, MCHS now boasts of an enrollment of over 400 students and has become a beacon of Catholic education in Belize. Built originally upon the efforts of volunteers, MCHS annually welcomes 15 SOLT missionary teachers - university graduates between the ages of 22-25 - to complement the Belizean staff. JPIIJC opened its doors in 2013 to provide students throughout Belize with a quality Catholic tertiary education. Through its 2-year Liberal Arts program, JPIIJC strives to form the whole human person, with an educational experience unlike any other in Belize. As part of the pioneering efforts at JPIIJC, SOLT missionary teachers are integrally involved in administration, curriculum and teaching. A graduate degree is encouraged but not required for volunteers at the junior college.
BELIZE CITY, BELIZE
Belize City is a study in contrasts: exotic scenery and vibrant tourism while ravaged by poverty, broken families and crime.
The SOLT-run parish of Divine Mercy is a light in the darkness, a place of spiritual renewal and social outreach. The team of SOLT priests, sisters and laity are dedicated to serving those on the peripheries, both materially and spiritually, while engaging parishioners to do the same.
Missionary volunteers are needed to help teach elementary students in a village school, serve in catechesis, youth and adult religious formation, and community outreach. As well, Radio Maria, a SOLT-founded and run Catholic radio and television station, located at Divine Mercy parish, is in search of volunteers skilled in the area of media outreach, serving Belize City and beyond.
Santa Maria del Mexicano is a nonprofit organization managed by SOLT offering spiritual, educational, moral, vocational, and human formation to the most needy youth and elderly of Mexico. Through prayer, work, and education SOLT serves those who find themselves in difficult life situations such as low income, difficult family situations, abuse, and neglect.
The ministry consists of five houses in and surrounding the town of Colón in the state of Querétaro. 4 separate houses are for boys and girls serving as boarding schools where SOLT provides primary and secondary school education. “El Asilo” is a home for the elderly and adults with special needs. In all 5 houses SOLT currently serves 222 residents. Missionary volunteers are called to become a spiritual father or mother to the neediest children in México: teach them, love them, and show them the face of Jesus. Positions include being a prefect in the house with boys or girls, while participating in the spiritual life of the SOLT community and serving in the family of Santa María del Mexicano.
NUEVO LAREDO, MEXICO
“Never a dull moment,” is how Fr. Antonio Anderson, describes the SOLT mission along the northern border of México. In a single day he and the team of SOLT sisters and priests might find themselves serving the bereaved victims of organized crime, preparing children to receive Jesus in Holy Communion, and counseling couples on the verge of divorce.
Organized violence has seized Nuevo Laredo for the last 11 years, so one of the works of SOLT is consoling and encouraging victims and exhorting youth to avoid or to leave the slavery of the cartel. But the vast majority of the 80,000 people in the parish area are hard-working and family-oriented. Aside from volunteering in evangelization and catechesis, there is much work to be done in the SOLT medical clinic, and there is often need for construction in the 5 chapels and the retreat center that are dependant on the parish.
St. Ann’s Catholic Indian Mission in Belcourt, North Dakota, where SOLT has been serving for the past 20 years, is dedicated to the spiritual, intellectual, emotional, and physical formation of the peoples of the Turtle Mountain Reservation. As one of the largest and poorest parishes in the diocese of Fargo, St. Ann’s is known as the “light on the hill.” Missionary volunteers are needed for full-time development office work, youth ministry and as aides in the SOLT-run Catholic school. St. Ann’s also provides a unique opportunity to serve in the summer months through its summer camp. Camp begins in June and goes until mid-July. It includes daily Mass—a unique experience for the predominantly unchurched children who attend—along with games, crafts, skits, outdoor activities (canoeing and archery), and much more. Each camp lasts for two weeks, and volunteers over the age of 18 are needed to serve as