Why blog? To keep in touch with our friends out there, some might say. But it could also be to while away lonely hours in front of their computer, they might admit. Yet, there’s another class of bloggers: old-timers who feel the compulsion to share life’s lessons with others. That’s where I fit in. Years ago in Pacific Island Monthly there was a regular column by a retired minister who had served many years in Papua-New Guinea. If anything had gone wrong there recently–and usually there was plenty–he took the liberty to point it out and suggest what could be done to correct it. Joe Murphy, the former editor of what was once Guam’s only newspaper, might do the same thing in his own tongue-in-cheek fashion. Both could be called bloggers before the invention of the term. I used to wonder how these people, both as white as I am, could get away with it. Why didn’t they let local people solve their own problems? Read More
Many years ago when I was a fresh young face in the islands, I was astonished at how seldom people disagreed with one another. Not that I grew up in a neighborhood in which people screamed and cursed at one another all day long, but there certainly were minor arguments between people that sometimes spilled over in public. Imagine my surprise when I came to Micronesia and found that no one seemed to disagree with anyone else… at least in public. Where were the arguments, the minor debates, the give-and-take needed to get to the truth of the matter? Everyone appeared willing to accept at face value whatever came out of another person’s mouth.
Any Catholic Pohnpeians out there who need spiritual assistance are urged to get in touch with Fr. Joe Cavanagh, who spent many years on the island. Fr. Cav was sent back to the US this past January and is now living at our Jesuit retirement home in New York. With him are two other Jesuits who spent long years in the islands: Fr. Jack Curran, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease, and Fr. Paul Horgan, now confined to his wheelchair after a severe stroke some months ago.
Fr. Cav has already made one pastoral visit to Kansas City and is preparing for another next month. Besides doing mass in Pohnpeian, he does first communions, weddings, and all sorts of other things. He is also available for spiritual direction and retreats. His home phone number is 718-430–4995, and his cell is 718-902-8281. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How can migrant Micronesian communities build on their successes?
First, continue to do what most migrant communities in the US seem to be doing so successfully. Develop an island community within the larger American community–not to exclude ties with other people in town but to offer support to one another. I’ve attended birthday celebrations or christening parties that bring together nearly all the islanders in a place, and there are holiday picnics with sports events that draw islanders from hundreds of miles around. Most successful communities have an authority figure of some kind to keep everyone in line and to introduce new migrant families to the community and explain what they have to do to get along in their new home.
Right now the answer to the question posed in the title of this posting is Oceanside, New York, where I’m temporarily working in St. Anthony’s Parish. The people here are largely from New York City, most of them of Italian descent and some of them experiencing the financial problems that other Americans are facing these days in a time of almost-recession.
In many ways, the people of Oceanside are not very different from the Micronesians who have come to the US to seek what they could not find in their own country–a job that offers a decent salary, a good education for their kids, a new opportunity in a new place. Some of them can remember their grandparents telling them about what they had to go through when they first arrived in the US. “Italians belong in Italy,” seemed to be the cry at that time. “Irish belong in Ireland. Poles belong in Poland. America is for Americans.”