Ginny and Deacon Cal Cathers were introduced to SOLT in 1964 by a friend who knew about a new Catholic missionary community that recently moved to Kansas City, Missouri. What was unique about this missionary community and attractive to them was that it included lay families, along with the priests and sisters. This drew them in and after hearing our founder, Fr. James Flanagan, teach the faith, they knew that SOLT was their home. For the next few years, they were in a period of formation and discernment, culminating in 1968 when they became official definitive members of the SOLT lay association.
While they were both filled with missionary zeal and desired to serve as a family in foreign countries, Cal also felt the call to the permanent diaconate. Answering this call would delay the start to their service in mission, but both Ginny and Cal felt that it was part of how God was calling their family to follow Him. In 1976, after Cal’s formation and ordination as a permanent married deacon, the Cathers responded to Fr. John McHugh’s invitation to join him in a new SOLT mission in Belize. It was here that Ginny and Deacon Cal found their missionary vocation, living and serving in Benque Viejo del Carmen, Belize, ever since.
They have experienced all of the joys and sorrows of family life, including births, deaths, and the everyday challenges of raising children (most of their six children grew up in the mission) in Benque Ginny and Deacon Cal have been blessed to serve on teams with priests, brothers, sisters, and other lay members who have become a part of their family.
In the midst of their service in mission, it became clear to them that they would need to financially support their family and not count on the mission for this need. At the same time, they saw the challenges in the area with regard to the education of children. At that time in Belize, very few children were graduating from elementary school (only 40%) and high school (only 10%). The Cathers saw this as an opportunity – an opportunity that they helped fill by creating, publishing, and distributing high quality textbooks to the schools in Belize. By 1995, their company, BRC Printing, was the largest non-government employer in Benque Viejo, distributing books for free to more than 40% of children living in poverty.
While BRC Printing was largely driven by Deacon Cal, Ginny found her calling in the mission ministering to women and children in poverty or difficult situations. Ginny’s passion for helping single mothers and children has led her into pro-life ministry and helping women prepare for and find jobs to support their families, all of which gives the children a better chance at completing their education.
Ginny and Deacon Cal Cathers are living a life of service, forty-three years and counting, focused on and providing an affordable, quality, Catholic education for the young people of Benque Viejo del Carmen, Belize. Their life of discipleship, blessed by the many graced friendships they have formed as members of the ecclesial family team in Benque Viejo while serving those children and families in deepest need has been a great example and inspiration regarding the Church’s call to the laity to missionary service: “the command of the Lord ‘Go into the whole world’ is continuing to find a generous response from laypersons who are ready to leave familiar surroundings, their work, their region or country, at least for a determined time, to go into mission territory.” (Christifideles Laici, #35)
Deacon Ken Dawson is from Alpharetta, Georgia. He and his wife Christine raised their eight children in the SOLT community near Covington. They have been SOLT lay members since 2008 and he was ordained a deacon February 5, 2022.