Giff Johnson’s latest work is a call to serious planning and more. The author summons leaders to recognize that life has changed in the Marshalls and the status quo is the road to disaster. There was a time when this might not have been true–when people who wanted to kick back and live a simple island life could quietly opt out of school and retire to the family land to provide for themselves as their ancestors had done for generations in an island society that offered the resources, physical and social, to support its population.
What is the mission of the church today, and how can we best carry it out in the islands today? Those were the driving questions behind the diocesan workshop that was held in Chuuk towards the end of July. Following their retreat, most of the local priests attended, but many others were also on hand–about 80 people in all. They didn’t sit silently and just listen, either. Joe Saimon from Pohnpei, Santi Asanuma from Palau, Deacon Joseph Albert from Chuuk, and Deacon Burdensio Andreas from Pohnpei were just some of the many who contributed to the active discussion in the workshop. At the end of the week, we did some minor editing on the old vision statement for the church in Micronesia before we adopted it. We can hope that it will help us focus on our task in the years ahead.
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.