Old age and Christmas season are a tough combination. The old Yuletide favorites–with their “silver bells” and “sleigh bells” and “jingle bells,” their wistful “I’ll be home for Christmas,” not to mention the familiar melodies themselves–are dripping with nostalgia. As if an old-timer like me, head packed with fond memories, needed any more reminders of happy days past and marvelous holiday seasons!
The meeting of Catholic educators on Pohnpei last week was like a postponed class reunion. The bonhomie and eagerness to share with one another was very much in the air. It had been three years since the last meeting of the Catholic school administrators, and the diocesan association that once linked them had been dissolved. It was at their request that the Catholic Schools Administrators Conference was held, with the 19 participants representing not just Xavier High School, Mindszenty High School and the other schools in the Caroline Islands, but the schools in the Marshalls as well.
Saipan was a happening place this past week, even apart from the election campaigns that are in full swing. A team of archaeologists under Mike Carson and Hsaio-chun Hung has been working on an excavation site at Laulau Bay. The pit in which they were digging is one of the oldest settlement sites on the island. We watched them bring buckets of dirt to be sifted through a fine screen. We saw small bits of red pottery, sometimes even a sharpened stone cutting tool or two, and a curious looking stone ear pendant that looked like a miniature fishhook.
The Governor of Guam has taken measures to return certain convicts from FSM to their home island, as we know from the wide media coverage. The individuals haven’t been “deported” exactly, although that’s how the FSM government sees it. They have been provided with a one-way ticket home and told they may never return to Guam in exchange for a commuted sentence that gets them out of the Guam jail a year or two earlier.
July 31, the feast of St. Ignatius, was the first of the two. On that morning, just a few days after celebrating my cousin Ken’s 50th anniversary of priesthood on Saipan, I landed at Newark to begin a couple weeks of visiting friends and family in the US. I spent the whole day at the province infirmary, Murray-Weigel, where a growing number of my peers are to be found. Fr. Dick Hoar, who spent years in Palau, has just moved there from Buffalo this past year. Joe Billotti and Jim Gould, who both spent years in the Marshalls, are among the more active residents. We shared stories as we sipped coffee together that morning. Read More
I was in Kosrae for a week, just to give a speech on FSM Law Day that took less than an hour. What was I going to do with all that time on my hands, I wondered? Kosrae is a small place with only 6,000 residents. Chuuk and Pohnpei are bustling cities by comparison, with their population, their traffic, their “glitter.”
Somewhere between 2000 and 1500 BC, around the time that Abraham was moving out of the Chaldees to his new home in what was later to be Palestine, another movement was taking place. Sailing canoes from the west arrived bringing the first people to settle in Micronesia. In fact, these newcomers could have been the first to settle anywhere in Oceania–other than the Papuans, that is, who had paddled the short distance to nearby Melanesia thousands of years earlier.
How long had the dispute been going on? None of us could remember exactly, but we knew that for some years now there had been two mayors of Tol (the largest municipality in Faichuk, the west part of Chuuk Lagoon). Maybe the split between the two sides of Tol occurred after the death of Susumu Aizawa in 2006. He had been the undisputed leader of Tol while he was alive–-as much for the reputation he acquired as a pitcher in the Japanese baseball league as for his success in business and expertise in traditional history.