Here we are in Chuuk once again with the diocesan priests gathered in the chapel preparing for our liturgy. Fr. Arthur Leger and I, along with two other Jesuits from Manila, are directing a week-long retreat for diocesan priests from the Carolines. The 15 clergy making the retreat range from the veterans, Bishop Amando Samo and Fr. Nick Rahoy, ordained a few months apart back in 1977, to Robert Ifamalik, who was just ordained on Pohnpei last month. They have come from Palau, Yap and Pohnpei to join their brethren in Chuuk for the event.
Where’s Fran? The answer to that blog-site question is, happily…on Guam. I have a long-term assignment on the island to assist the archbishop and work with the migrant communities. For a week now I’ve been settling in at my new home in the Dededo parish of Santa Barbara where the three diocesan priests have been very welcoming. Here I have a room and a car and, best of all, real work to do!
This photo posted on my Facebook needs a little explanation. So let me explain. I was in Washington for two days in response to a request to help find a way to bring together Pacific Island representatives in Washington to engage in a discussion of issues that are important to them. After all, Micronesia has three ambassadors in DC (FSM, Palau and the Marshalls) not to mention the other Pacific Island embassies within the Beltway. But there are also three members of US Congress from the islands–Guam, CNMI and American Samoa. Why not try to get them together to meet occasionally on Pacific matters?
I broke into a run as I tried to make a traffic light on Fordham Road and had just made it to the curb when I went sprawling to the sidewalk. Hitting the ground like that was getting to be an altogether too common experience for me–just another quirk brought on by age, I guess.
Before the Angels Come to Take Me Away
Let me first assure you that I have no plans for an early death… the title was meant to be an attention-grabber. But even so, I’m 76 years old and the clock is winding down. So let me share with you a few of my own dreams that I hope may become a reality before the angels come to take me away.
Max Yarawamai’s story is that of an island boy who made good. Today he owns a landscaping company on the Big Island of Hawaii that employs over 200 people and has big projects underway all over the state. Despite his success, he has not lost contact with his own people. Max, born in Ulithi, has set up clinics on his own atoll and has built a park that provides basketball, volleyball and other freetime activities for other migrants.
The move to Honolulu didn’t come easily for Lukunor-born Innocenta Sound. She was uprooted suddenly to care for her father, the former lieutenant governor of Chuuk, when he went on dialysis in Hawaii. The former policewoman became a social activist even as she began full-time work with fellow migrants in a low-income neighborhood of the city. She lives out the ideal of islanders taking care of their own.
Lowery Lowery, born in Kosrae, had an interest in security from the outset. After graduating from PATS, he joined the US Marines and served in Iraq. Later he became a key figure in a local security company in Hawaii. Like so many other community leaders, he has been asked to play a key role in helping his fellow migrants. Besides serving as a lay leader in his church, he has been asked to preside at community events.