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.
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.
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.