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

1
Jojo Peter: A Tribute from a Former Teacher
2
Richard Hoar: Missionary, Mentor, and Then Some
3
Let’s Hear it for Shame V: Retrieving the Old Tool.
4
Let’s Hear it for Shame IV: In Place of Shame
5
Let’s Hear it for Shame III: Blaming Shame
6
Let’s Hear it for Shame II: Once Upon a Time
7
Let’s Hear It For Shame I: The Shame Game
8
Wounded Hearts on a Journey with Fr. Bill McGarry

Jojo Peter: A Tribute from a Former Teacher

We called him Joachim in those days. In 1980, as a freshman at Xavier High School, he was a new arrival from Ettal in the Mortlocks… young, playful but polite, everyone’s friend. Neither a standout student nor a trouble-maker, he was just an outer-island boy eager to make it at a school with a big reputation. Even then he was known for his ready smile and his warm personality.

Then, during the summer break after his freshman year, everything changed. While climbing the waterfalls at the Wichen River, he slipped off the ledge and broke his spinal cord. He was sent to Hawaii for treatment, and soon afterwards went into rehabilitation for the rest of the year. The doctors informed him that he would never walk again.

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Richard Hoar: Missionary, Mentor, and Then Some

Soon after I first met Dick on Palau in 1964, he had me pushing wheelbarrows full of wet cement up a ramp to be dumped on the second floor of the new Maris Stella School he was building. Dick came to Palau in 1958 as a classical missionary figure, the man who could construct churches and schools as easily as he can repair the engine of his jeep. Men of my age might have admired the versatility of that generation of Jesuits, but we could never have aspired to imitate them. Still, the cold beer tasted especially sweet after two hours of hauling cement.

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Let’s Hear it for Shame V: Retrieving the Old Tool.

“Let’s Hear it for Shame,” a Five Part Series

At the risk of sounding like the old fogey that I am (80 years old, after all), I offer my thoughts on the passing of a key social tool. “Let’s Hear It For Shame” is the title of this five-part series.

  1. The Shame Game
  2. Once Upon a Time
  3. Blaming Shame
  4. In Place of Shame
  5. Retrieving the Old Tool

V: Retrieving the Old Tool

With a little imaginative innovation, why can’t we reclaim a proper use of shame?


Individualism seems to be the bottom line in our society today, here in the islands as well as in the US. The government increasingly sees itself as the protector of every individual–even those in the tight embrace of the family–against mistreatment of any kind. In today’s society the government feels that it must do everything, including protecting children from their parents. In the past, our polity relied on small communities, including families, for a great measure of self-policing. The latter was done without handcuffs, much less jail cells, but it depended on strong doses of shame being administered as needed.

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Let’s Hear it for Shame IV: In Place of Shame

“Let’s Hear it for Shame,” a Five Part Series

At the risk of sounding like the old fogey that I am (80 years old, after all), I offer my thoughts on the passing of a key social tool. “Let’s Hear It For Shame” is the title of this five-part series.

  1. The Shame Game
  2. Once Upon a Time
  3. Blaming Shame
  4. In Place of Shame
  5. Retrieving the Old Tool

IV: In Place of Shame

If we think that shaming someone is harmful, let’s pause to consider the alternative.


If we really believe that shame must not be used to control unacceptable behavior, then what can we use?  Well, we can always resort to far worse kinds of punishment to do the job. Over the past forty or fifty years we have done just that as the criminal justice system has expanded enormously. This happened just as shame was judged to be a less effective, or maybe a less acceptable tool of social control.

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Let’s Hear it for Shame III: Blaming Shame

“Let’s Hear it for Shame,” a Five Part Series

At the risk of sounding like the old fogey that I am (80 years old, after all), I offer my thoughts on the passing of a key social tool. “Let’s Hear It For Shame” is the title of this five-part series.

  1. The Shame Game
  2. Once Upon a Time
  3. Blaming Shame
  4. In Place of Shame
  5. Retrieving the Old Tool

III: Blaming Shame

Today, when word of our foibles can travel so far, the use of shame for any reason whatsoever is suspect.


In the eyes of many today, the use of shame to punish misbehavior has itself become shameful. Part of this current reaction might be attributed to the enormous outreach of social media. Back in pre-Internet days, the scolding of a student who had misbehaved was heard by others in the class, rarely by the entire school.  Classmates of the student were expected to learn something from this example, but word of what had gone on was certainly not intended to reach the other side of country via a posting on YouTube.

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Let’s Hear it for Shame II: Once Upon a Time

“Let’s Hear it for Shame,” a Five Part Series

At the risk of sounding like the old fogey that I am (80 years old, after all), I offer my thoughts on the passing of a key social tool. “Let’s Hear It For Shame” is the title of this five-part series.

  1. The Shame Game
  2. Once Upon a Time
  3. Blaming Shame
  4. In Place of Shame
  5. Retrieving the Old Tool

II: Once Upon a Time

Shame used to be seen as a blessing, if only because it could be counted on to keep people in line.


Not so long ago shame was seen in a very different light; it was regarded as a legitimate form of social control. Shame was the punishment for not conforming to the community standards. Men would have been ashamed to violate the dress codes of the day–like the one that required men to wear hats whenever they went outdoors.

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Let’s Hear It For Shame I: The Shame Game

“Let’s Hear it for Shame,” a Five Part Series

At the risk of sounding like the old fogey that I am (80 years old, after all), I offer my thoughts on the passing of a key social tool. “Let’s Hear It For Shame” is the title of this five-part series.

  1. The Shame Game
  2. Once Upon a Time
  3. Blaming Shame
  4. In Place of Shame
  5. Retrieving the Old Tool

I: The Shame Game

This is the first segment of that series on shame, with all that it means today and meant in the past.


I was giving the keynote presentation at a Pacific education conference when something I said drew a gasp from the audience. I had just said that a second grade teacher of mine had scolded me for habitually writing the number 7 backwards. She called me up to the board and had me fill half the blackboard with 7’s written the right way while my classmates snickered. “Was I ashamed that day?” I asked rhetorically. “Sure,” I admitted, “but the shame didn’t kill my self-confidence or traumatize me.”

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Wounded Hearts on a Journey with Fr. Bill McGarry

The following reflection on Fr. Bill McGarry’s funeral was written by Patty Clemente, a longtime friend and counselee.

Some years back, Fr. Bill gave me a small book entitled “Hearts on Fire,” which contains prayers of Jesuits. In the introduction of this book, it is suggested that the prayers be used “when your own words fail you.”  Since my own words fail me, I am borrowing the prayers of others to describe the highlights of yesterday’s journey with Fr. Bill.

We started the journey with the prayer found in the Spiritual Exercises #233: “In omnibus amare et servire Dominum” (“In all things, love and serve the Lord”).  At the start of his homily, Fr. Thomas O’Gorman bared us his wounded heart by praying, “Bill, help me through this.”  He then went on to console us by explaining the prayer that is also “goodbye.”

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