Here we are in Chuuk once again with the diocesan priests gathered in the chapel preparing for our liturgy. Fr. Arthur Leger and I, along with two other Jesuits from Manila, are directing a week-long retreat for diocesan priests from the Carolines. The 15 clergy making the retreat range from the veterans, Bishop Amando Samo and Fr. Nick Rahoy, ordained a few months apart back in 1977, to Robert Ifamalik, who was just ordained on Pohnpei last month. They have come from Palau, Yap and Pohnpei to join their brethren in Chuuk for the event.
Where’s Fran? The answer to that blog-site question is, happily…on Guam. I have a long-term assignment on the island to assist the archbishop and work with the migrant communities. For a week now I’ve been settling in at my new home in the Dededo parish of Santa Barbara where the three diocesan priests have been very welcoming. Here I have a room and a car and, best of all, real work to do!
Just three days after Christmas, three travelers from the east (at least if you think of Spain as lying to the east) brought to Guam a gift–the skull of a Jesuit priest who had been killed on the island 330 years earlier. The priest, Fr. Manuel Solorzano, was one of the twelve Jesuits who lost their lives in what have come to be known as the “Spanish-Chamorro Wars.”
The skull was a reminder of the worst of times, some would say. People died in unprecedented numbers from disease and violence, the culture was radically transformed, and for the first time islanders lived under a foreign flag. Read More
We just missed it, but I was in the mountains in upstate New York with my “extended family” of 60+ relatives at the time. July 31 was the feast of St. Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits. So, even if this comes a bit late, let me exercise my bragging rights and share with you a reflection or two on the religious order that I have belonged to for the past 58 years. Read More
Dr. Joe Flear’s visit to New York for a couple of days seemed to trigger a series of reunions. Joe (standing second from the left in the photo) worked in Yap for several years during the 1980s before he moved to Pohnpei to teach at the medical school there. Since 2000 he has been teaching and doing clinical instruction at the Fiji School of Medicine.The evening of his arrival, he joined a couple of us for dinner Read More
If you’re looking for the presence of a Micronesian religious community in the US, you’ll have to go to the Midwest to find it. But if you visit during December, be prepared for temperatures hovering around zero. When I woke up this morning, the thermometer registered five degrees, but everyone says it’s even colder at night. This place makes New York City seem like Miami Beach. Read More
The Caroline Islands: History of the Diocese. The book was intended to celebrate the centennial of the Catholic Church in Chuuk, the 25th anniversary of the episcopal ordination of Bishop Amando, and the 125th anniversary of the founding of the church in the Carolines. The book is just what the title says it is–a history of the Catholic Church in the Carolines. The book contains many historical photos, some of them the same ones found in my old volume, The Catholic Church in Micronesia. But this new book is much more elegantly produced: it’s in full color and it features a page or two on each of the parishes in the diocese. Read More
On each of the three weekends I’ve been here on Pohnpei, I’ve done three masses: the English mass on Saturday evening and two village masses in Pohnpeian on Sunday morning. This week the color of choice at all three masses was white, with the honored guests spanning the age spectrum. On Saturday evening it was young kids (dressed in the traditional white garb) making their first communion, with singing in Chuukese, Pohnpeian and English. Read More