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

1
Juan Ngiraibuuch: A Life Too Short
2
Christmas, 2021
3
Bill Rakowicz, Famed Horror Movies Fan and Much More
4
Let Their Voices Be Heard!
5
Pause and Think Before You Pick
6
A Few Things to Share on Aging
7
Bishop Amando Samo, Helmsman of the Micronesian Church
8
Dave Andrus: 50 Years a Jesuit and 30+ Years an Adopted Micronesian

Juan Ngiraibuuch: A Life Too Short

The photo of Juan that is unforgettable, at least for me, is the 1987 shot of him seated between his two fellow novices and their novice director, Fr. Felix Yaoch. in the rectory in Palau. They all have beaming smiles on their faces, as well they should. They were making history in an island group that had long been a mission served by other countries. Now Micronesia had its own Jesuit novitiate, its own Palauan novice master, and three island seminarians. It was a key event on the path toward the truly Micronesian church that we had all hoped for.

Brother Juan with Fr Felix Yaoch and two other novices, at the rectory in Palau.

Juan entered the Society of Jesus 20 years after the death of Cypriano Moses, another Palauan brother and relative of his who had been buried in Chuuk. Juan once told me that he wanted to continue the work of his uncle as a Jesuit brother. He certainly did that–for more than 30 years in a remarkable ministry of service, first in Palau, and then in the Marshalls, the Philippines and Fiji. Everywhere he went, he brought his wide smile, his soft voice, and his warm manner. His personality was welcoming to all–an invitation to share with him anything and everything about yourself. This served him well during his long years as a counselor to high school students and a spiritual director for  seminarians.

Juan’s death on Saipan of a massive stroke came as a shock to all of us. He was a unifying figure in an age that badly needed it. He was the image of selflessness at a time when so many can’t seem to get beyond their own self-image. Why couldn’t he have remained with us as a model of service for many more years? He was only 57 when he passed away, just a year or two older than Wayne Tkel, a fellow Palauan Jesuit who died in 2019. He would have been about the same age as Apollo Thall when he left us several years ago. Perhaps there is something to the old saying that the good die young.

This has been a difficult week for church in Miconesia. Just two days before Juan’s death, we lost a young diocesan seminarian, Anthony Dolan, from pancreatitis. He would have been ordained in another two years time. I only knew him briefly for the few weeks he was here on Guam before his sudden death.

We can only pray that faithful stewards like Br. Juan inspire others to do what Br. Cypriano did for him, Continue the work that they have carried on so well during their all too short lives.

Christmas, 2021

“Silver bells, silver bells. It’s Christmas time in the city…” That was the song the St. Andrew’s choir presented at our first Christmas dinner in the seminary 65 years ago. At those words, the faces of my fellow novices fell as we remembered what we had left behind just a few months earlier. Today, when I listen to the song the touch of nostalgia is still there, but now it brings a smile, in recognition of all the happy memories in the islands as well as back “in the city.”

Read More

Pause and Think Before You Pick

The fault of our biblical first parents, Adam and Eve, might not have been taking a bite from the forbidden apple so much as detaching it from the tree. The tree was located in the middle of the garden, so it was prominently displayed. More importantly, the tempter suggested that picking the fruit of the tree would offer special knowledge—the kind that would empower the couple to do whatever they wished.

Read More

Bishop Amando Samo, Helmsman of the Micronesian Church

The Catholic Church of the Caroline Islands lost its former leader when Bishop Amando Samo, retired head of the diocese, passed away on August 7, 2021.

Amando Samo was a proud Mortlockese, born in Moch, who knew what it was like to be an outsider. First, he moved to the Chuuk Lagoon, where he graduated from Chuuk High School. But that was just the beginning. Then it was off to Hawaii for seminary, where he would tell us that often, after a day’s classes and interactions with his fellow seminarians, he would flee to his room where he would dream of his home island. Perhaps it was this early experience that made him sympathetic and unfailingly kind to the American Jesuits like myself, who knew that we would always be outsiders, however much we considered the islands our adopted home.

Read More

Dave Andrus: 50 Years a Jesuit and 30+ Years an Adopted Micronesian

We had no way of knowing, when young Dave Andrus entered the Society in 1971, what a treasure he would be for our mission in Micronesia. Born in Louisiana, Dave would spend most of his Jesuit life in these islands. More than that, he would become, in his own quiet and unassuming way, the lifeblood of the Pohnpei church for three decades or more.

Read More