That’s John Howard in the photo sitting in a conference room at Adelup. Over the past several months John has become the new face of Chuuk youth on Guam. His photo is beginning to appear in the paper almost as often as it did in the days when he was winning 100 meter sprints as a regional track star. Nowadays, though, John is known for organizing youth groups, setting up competitive sports events for Micronesians, and serving as the link for the Chuukese community with GovGuam.
Building a wall along the southern border? Rallying the police to arrest undocumented immigrants? Threatening the deportation of “aliens”? Is this what will define our country–“the land of the free and the home of the brave,” as we Americans like to think of ourselves–in the years to come? What about that warm welcome to the “poor and huddled masses” that our old schoolbooks use to proudly proclaim?
A couple of nights ago I attended a wake for a Pohnpeian youth who had been stabbed to death two days earlier. It happened in a drunken fight here on Guam outside the Hemlani Apartments–a low-end unit situated right next to what looks like might be the island dump. The Hemlani Apartments have made the front page of the local newspaper quite a few times over the past year, usually because of some minor crime or drunken brawl.
Old age and Christmas season are a tough combination. The old Yuletide favorites–with their “silver bells” and “sleigh bells” and “jingle bells,” their wistful “I’ll be home for Christmas,” not to mention the familiar melodies themselves–are dripping with nostalgia. As if an old-timer like me, head packed with fond memories, needed any more reminders of happy days past and marvelous holiday seasons!
The meeting of Catholic educators on Pohnpei last week was like a postponed class reunion. The bonhomie and eagerness to share with one another was very much in the air. It had been three years since the last meeting of the Catholic school administrators, and the diocesan association that once linked them had been dissolved. It was at their request that the Catholic Schools Administrators Conference was held, with the 19 participants representing not just Xavier High School, Mindszenty High School and the other schools in the Caroline Islands, but the schools in the Marshalls as well.
Saipan was a happening place this past week, even apart from the election campaigns that are in full swing. A team of archaeologists under Mike Carson and Hsaio-chun Hung has been working on an excavation site at Laulau Bay. The pit in which they were digging is one of the oldest settlement sites on the island. We watched them bring buckets of dirt to be sifted through a fine screen. We saw small bits of red pottery, sometimes even a sharpened stone cutting tool or two, and a curious looking stone ear pendant that looked like a miniature fishhook.
The Governor of Guam has taken measures to return certain convicts from FSM to their home island, as we know from the wide media coverage. The individuals haven’t been “deported” exactly, although that’s how the FSM government sees it. They have been provided with a one-way ticket home and told they may never return to Guam in exchange for a commuted sentence that gets them out of the Guam jail a year or two earlier.
July 31, the feast of St. Ignatius, was the first of the two. On that morning, just a few days after celebrating my cousin Ken’s 50th anniversary of priesthood on Saipan, I landed at Newark to begin a couple weeks of visiting friends and family in the US. I spent the whole day at the province infirmary, Murray-Weigel, where a growing number of my peers are to be found. Fr. Dick Hoar, who spent years in Palau, has just moved there from Buffalo this past year. Joe Billotti and Jim Gould, who both spent years in the Marshalls, are among the more active residents. We shared stories as we sipped coffee together that morning. Read More