Posted: Friday, September 15, 2023. 1:55 pm CST.
By Zoila Palma Gonzalez: The Government of Belize has awarded the Order of Distinction for contributions to Education to Educator and Jesuit missionary, Fr. Leo Weber.
In 1950, Father Leo Weber SJ first arrived in Belize where he taught at St. John’s College. After being ordained as a Jesuit priest in 1956, he returned to Belize to work as the Assistant Director of Catholic Schools at the elementary level, where he served until 1963.
In 1964, Father Weber was appointed president of SJC, a post he held until 1971. It was during this time that St. John’s College broadened its program of studies to award associate degrees, allowing graduates to continue their studies at universities in the United States, United Kingdom and at universities in the West Indies.
After his term as president, Fr. Weber returned to the United States eventually returning to Belize in 1984 to become the President of St. John’s College once more. During this second term, he successfully started the Jesuit Scholarship Program, an initiative that granted tuition scholarships to graduates of St. John’s Junior College to continue their studies at Jesuit universities in the U.S. Hundreds of Belizeans have graduated and continued their undergraduate and graduate studies at Jesuit universities through this initiative which continues today.
In 1990, Fr. Weber left the Office of the President of SJC, handing over to its first Belizean president, Fr. James Murphy. Father Weber went on to serve as director of St. John’s College Extension Division until 1994 when he left for Toledo to serve as the pastor of St. Peter Claver Parish.
As an educator and Jesuit missionary, Fr. Leo Weber made a great impact on education in Belize and the development of our nation.
The award was received by Fr. Matthew Ruhl (Fellow Jesuit Priest).
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