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.
In San Francisco, I met Paula Falk downtown for another lunch. Paula has long been the guiding spirit and patroness of the Historic Preservation Program in the islands. She as much as any single person provided the financial support for our seven-hour “History of Micronesia” video series, finished ten years ago and replayed on local TV again and again.
At Newark I found still other friends to bring me to their home in Monroe, NY–the widow and daughter of Ralph Leitner, my best friend during my early years of study with the Jesuits. Marybeth, the daughter, has a 10-year-old daughter, Sarah, who suffers from Downs Syndrome. She teaches us all that beautiful spirits come in strange forms.
The following day it was off to nearby St. Isaac Jogues Center in Cornwall to spend time with the few Jesuits assigned there. Among the men I saw were Jim Gould and Joe Billotti, who both worked in the islands for years, and Peter Schineller, who was superior of our mission in Nigeria while I was trying to manage Micronesia.
Cornwall offered other attractions as well: the beautiful grounds, the swimming pool behind the main building, and the spacious living room. But the sight of deer relaxing on the lawn after feeding on the trees nearby was one of the nicest.