The official blog of Rev. Francis X. Hezel, SJ

1
Remembering My Playmate, Fr. Wayne Tkel, SJ
2
The Passing of Fr. William McGarry, Architect of the New Micronesian Mission
3
Christmas, 2018
4
Tears and Hugs: A Touching Hint of What’s To Come
5
Thanksgiving in Hawaii
6
Power to the People in the Island Church
7
Sr. Dorothy Nook: Incessant Critic and Best of Friends
8
In the Footsteps of Saints and Martyrs

Remembering My Playmate, Fr. Wayne Tkel, SJ

Patty Clemente, a classmate of Wayne’s at the Ateneo de Manila, offers this tribute to Wayne, who died just a few days ago. Patty, born in Baguio, is a practicing lawyer and has two children. -Fran Hezel

One of the happiest times in my life was spent in the company of my dear friend, Fr. Wayne Tkel, SJ.  We were fortunate to be under the care of our “den mother,” Fr. Bill McGarry, while we were students at the Ateneo.

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The Passing of Fr. William McGarry, Architect of the New Micronesian Mission

Finally, on December 29, we received the news that we long anticipated but dreaded: Fr. Bill McGarry died at the age of 90 in the Jesuit infirmary in Manila. The man who more than anyone else had shaped the course of the modern Jesuit mission in Micronesia had left us. The uncrowned (and unmitred) head of our Jesuit band of brothers had passed away.

Bill was born and raised in Brooklyn, but he attended Xavier High School (the Manhattan version, of course) along with just about every other Jesuit who served on Pohnpei–Hugh Costigan, Joe Cavanagh, Jack Curran and Dick Becker for starters.

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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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