Author - Francis X. Hezel, SJ

1
Christmas, 2018
2
Tears and Hugs: A Touching Hint of What’s To Come
3
Thanksgiving in Hawaii
4
Power to the People in the Island Church
5
Sr. Dorothy Nook: Incessant Critic and Best of Friends
6
In the Footsteps of Saints and Martyrs
7
The Islands that Japan Forgot
8
Before We Began Counting Years

Christmas, 2018

Advent, the four weeks before Christmas, is traditionally a time of waiting. Kids everywhere know full well what this means, as their parents shop and decorate in preparation for the big day.

For me, waiting has defined the whole year… Waiting for the arrival of grant funds so that we can complete our video documentary on a major historical event on Pohnpei a century ago… Waiting for the local support we’re seeking to begin work on a new film on the homeless people on Guam, some 800 people without shelter… Waiting for the completion of the new website that will offer public access to the treasures of the MicSem library, now housed in Chuuk.

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Thanksgiving in Hawaii

I shouldn’t have to spend every weekend at the parish, I told myself as I got ready to fly off to Honolulu for the long Thanksgiving weekend. My long-time friend, Jason Aubuchon, was hosting a dinner for a few other old cronies besides myself: Kevin O’Keefe and Steve Savage and Pat Billington. It was the old Micronesian gang gathering on neutral ground to share stories and imagine what might happen in the future.

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Power to the People in the Island Church

While the Micronesian Games were going on in Yap, the annual diocesan workshop was being held in Chuuk. Sixty people from the diocese gathered to review the mission of the church and reflect on what more could be done to make the church truly Micronesian. The word used to headline the workshop was “empowerment,” but the goal was the one we foreign missionaries have embraced ever since the early 70s: return of the church to the people of the Carolines.

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Sr. Dorothy Nook: Incessant Critic and Best of Friends

It was sometime the late 1980s, as I remember. Sr. Dorothy and I were driving to some hotel or other on Saipan for the dress-up dinner that was to end a Micronesian library conference. We both heard a pop as our car suddenly began to swerve. It was a flat tire, we saw when we came to a stop. I looked at Dorothy, but she began a long monologue about how she knew nothing about changing car tires. So there was nothing I could do but crawl under the car to position the jack, start loosening the bolts, and find the spare tire. And hope that my good trousers and pressed shirt didn’t look too much the worse for wear when we finally got to the dinner. All the while, Dorothy was chirping away–wishing that we had left a little earlier in case of such emergencies, suggesting that we should have taken the middle road rather than the beach road, complaining about the condition of the highways, reminding me how late we were going to be for the dinner.

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In the Footsteps of Saints and Martyrs

Our visit to Nagasaki was soul-stirring for me. The place is distinguished by suffering and, even more touchingly, by the noble response to this suffering. It’s as if the sweet smell of sanctity (as they would have put it back in the old days) is everywhere. The city and its surroundings are the site of a couple massacres. There was the well-known devastation wrought by the atomic bomb in 1945 that took over 70,000 lives–nearly 150,000 if you include those lost in the explosion in Hiroshima just a few days earlier. Then there was the other lesser-known wave of killings that began about 400 years ago with the persecution of Christians, concentrated mostly in the area of Nagasaki. The estimated number of Japanese Christians killed over the years is 250,000.

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The Islands that Japan Forgot

I just finished a week-long trip to Japan arranged by Shoiji Sato, the former Japanese ambassador to FSM and now the head of APIC. The main purpose was to do a presentation that might remind people of the era in which Japan governed Micronesia. It was a magical time in many ways: the introduction of public schools, the growth of an economy that was able to pay government costs, the spread of power lines and bicycles throughout the towns.

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