The JVI reunion started out simply as a plan for bringing together a few young people who had done their volunteer service in Micronesia. Brother Terry Todd, who himself had served in the islands for many years, was invited to join us. But Terry knew others he wanted to invite. In the end, we had nearly 20 people there?perhaps 15 former Jesuit volunteers who had served a couple of years in Pohnpei or Chuuk, along with five Jesuits who worked in the islands: Jerry Menckhaus, Vin DeCola, Joe Billotti, Terry Todd and myself.Read More
On the flight from Guam, we had a long layover in Tokyo, allowing me time to enjoy lunch with Ikuko Matsumoto, a long-time friend. Ikuko was once the Asian Development Bank country officer to FSM, but she has since gone into a doctoral program in religious studies at Sophia University. She was the one who graciously escorted me on my memorable week-long trip to Japan last year. After the ritual book-swapping that often begins our conversations, we talked for three hours on Xavier graduates and their role in shaping the island church and the government, among other things.Read More
Memories! as the old song from the musical ?Cats? goes. Memories that fill the mind and tickle the emotions of old-timers, who have far more pictures of the past than anticipated blessings in the future. Reminders of the wonderful gifts we?ve received over the years. Especially people who were blessings to us then and now as we stumble through our old age.Read More
Next weekend our parish, Santa Barbara in Dededo, is scheduling a special mass and a luncheon to celebrate my 50th anniversary to the priesthood. For those of you who weren?t even born then, three of us (Dave Casey, Joe Godfrey and I, all Canisius High ?56 grads) were ordained at the Canisius College chapel on June 13, 1969.Read More
At first it felt noble to offer help to the needy. The knock on my door… the sad face on the other side… I reach into my wallet and put a bill into someone?s hand… repaid by a little smile and the warm glow inside that I had done a good deed.
Then the pace picks up, I find. The knocks on the door become more frequent… three or four times a day, sometime even more. They also become more insistent. A few days ago, beginning at six in the morning, I listened to someone knock for 25 minutes as I tried to keep my temper under some semblance of control. The gospels may urge answering the pleas of the poor, but for me to do so then would have been an invitation to commit homicide.Read More
We called him Joachim in those days. In 1980, as a freshman at Xavier High School, he was a new arrival from Ettal in the Mortlocks… young, playful but polite, everyone?s friend. Neither a standout student nor a trouble-maker, he was just an outer-island boy eager to make it at a school with a big reputation. Even then he was known for his ready smile and his warm personality.
Then, during the summer break after his freshman year, everything changed. While climbing the waterfalls at the Wichen River, he slipped off the ledge and broke his spinal cord. He was sent to Hawaii for treatment, and soon afterwards went into rehabilitation for the rest of the year. The doctors informed him that he would never walk again.Read More
Soon after I first met Dick on Palau in 1964, he had me pushing wheelbarrows full of wet cement up a ramp to be dumped on the second floor of the new Maris Stella School he was building. Dick came to Palau in 1958 as a classical missionary figure, the man who could construct churches and schools as easily as he can repair the engine of his jeep. Men of my age might have admired the versatility of that generation of Jesuits, but we could never have aspired to imitate them. Still, the cold beer tasted especially sweet after two hours of hauling cement.Read More
“Let’s Hear it for Shame,” a Five Part Series
At the risk of sounding like the old fogey that I am (80 years old, after all), I offer my thoughts on the passing of a key social tool. ?Let?s Hear It For Shame? is the title of this five-part series.
V: Retrieving the Old Tool
With a little imaginative innovation, why can?t we reclaim a proper use of shame???
Individualism seems to be the bottom line in our society today, here in the islands as well as in the US. The government increasingly sees itself as the protector of every individual?even those in the tight embrace of the family?against mistreatment of any kind. In today?s society the government feels that it must do everything, including protecting children from their parents. In the past, our polity relied on small communities, including families, for a great measure of self-policing. The latter was done without handcuffs, much less jail cells, but it depended on strong doses of shame being administered as needed.Read More