The official blog of Rev. Francis X. Hezel, SJ

1
Two Dinners and a Lunch in Washington
2
The Survivors: Ordination Class of 1969
3
More in New York
4
The Porch Recaptured
5
Enroute to the Mountains
6
Memories!
7
50th Ordination Anniversary: Parties with Friends
8
The Knock on the Door… Again and Again

Two Dinners and a Lunch in Washington

My time in Washington consisted of two relaxed evenings with friends in shorts and sport shirts, and a formal lunch at the posh Army-Navy Club at Farragut Square. For the latter I had to borrow button-down shirt, tie and sports jacket. (They never even noticed that I was wearing sandals without socks.)

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The Survivors: Ordination Class of 1969

The next stop was Philadelphia, where five of us ancient Jesuits gathered at St. Joseph’s University to celebrate our 50th anniversary of ordination. The party of five included Joe Godfrey, Vince Genovese, Tony Azzarto, Jim Keenan and me. Our time together did full justice to the city in which it was held: “the city of brotherly love.” 

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More in New York

During our visit to New York City, Terry Todd and I stayed at the Jesuit retirement home, Murray-Weigel Hall. The place was filled with retired Jesuits I had grown up with. Jack Curran, known as one of the intellectuals, had been moved to the center ten years ago because of Alzheimer’s. Now he sits in a wheelchair all day long, his eyes fixed on a TV screen seeing images and hearing words that he can not possibly understand. As Terry and I approached him, his eyes never once left the screen and he never showed any signs of recognition of our presence. This was the saddest experience I had there. 

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The Porch Recaptured

The JVI reunion started out simply as a plan for bringing together a few young people who had done their volunteer service in Micronesia. Brother Terry Todd, who himself had served in the islands for many years, was invited to join us. But Terry knew others he wanted to invite. In the end, we had nearly 20 people there–perhaps 15 former Jesuit volunteers who had served a couple of years in Pohnpei or Chuuk, along with five Jesuits who worked in the islands: Jerry Menckhaus, Vin DeCola, Joe Billotti, Terry Todd and myself. 

A few members of the party: Ron Clouse towering over the others–Fr. Joe Billotti, Maureen Flynn, Br. Terry and Catherine Feeney.

Eileen Eley and Catherine Feeney were among the first to arrive. Maureen Flynn, another of the old Pohnpei hands, helped Vin DeCola with preparations for the party. Then the others began drifting into Csizek Hall, just off the Fordham campus: Mary Masterson Dombrowsky and her husband Tom, Mark Demers and his Guamanian wife, Julie, and Brian Conroy. Then the gang of boys settled in: Mike Brady, now living in Colorado, Kevin Healy, Eoin Treacy, Steve Savage, and Ron Clouse. All of them were former teachers at PATS, the once vibrant but now shuttered Jesuit trade school on Pohnpei.

The PATS Guys.

After the first round of warm hugs, we gathered around the table in the living room for mass. The usual drinks followed, but this was done “social hour” style so that we could move around the room and catch up with everyone we had not seen in years. Slowly at first and then with increasing speed, the guests began their attack on the Italian dishes that had been ordered in for the occasion. When the beer ran out the PATS gang moved on, just as they might have in the good old days at the high school.

The evening was a reminder of happy times in the past: “the porch” and all that it meant to those who recall relaxing at PATS and the Jesuit house on Pohnpei in the past.

Ah, more wonderful memories!  There’s so much to be thankful for.

Enroute to the Mountains

On the flight from Guam, we had a long layover in Tokyo, allowing me time to enjoy lunch with Ikuko Matsumoto, a long-time friend. Ikuko was once the Asian Development Bank country officer to FSM, but she has since gone into a doctoral program in religious studies at Sophia University. She was the one who graciously escorted me on my memorable week-long trip to Japan last year. After the ritual book-swapping that often begins our conversations, we talked for three hours on Xavier graduates and their role in shaping the island church and the government, among other things.

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Memories!

Memories! as the old song from the musical “Cats” goes. Memories that fill the mind and tickle the emotions of old-timers, who have far more pictures of the past than anticipated blessings in the future. Reminders of the wonderful gifts we’ve received over the years. Especially people who were blessings to us then and now as we stumble through our old age.

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50th Ordination Anniversary: Parties with Friends

Next weekend our parish, Santa Barbara in Dededo, is scheduling a special mass and a luncheon to celebrate my 50th anniversary to the priesthood. For those of you who weren’t even born then, three of us (Dave Casey, Joe Godfrey and I, all Canisius High ‘56 grads) were ordained at the Canisius College chapel on June 13, 1969.

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The Knock on the Door… Again and Again

At first it felt noble to offer help to the needy. The knock on my door… the sad face on the other side… I reach into my wallet and put a bill into someone’s hand… repaid by a little smile and the warm glow inside that I had done a good deed.

Then the pace picks up, I find. The knocks on the door become more frequent… three or four times a day, sometime even more. They also become more insistent. A few days ago, beginning at six in the morning, I listened to someone knock for 25 minutes as I tried to keep my temper under some semblance of control. The gospels may urge answering the pleas of the poor, but for me to do so then would have been an invitation to commit homicide.

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