Two Fresh Faces

Two Micronesia-Bound Jesuits: Bob Pecoraro and Dickson Tiwelfil

If you don?t know these two men, you soon will. They?ll be making island headlines in the near future. The photo, by the way, was taken in the dining room of the Jesuit residence at Canisius College in Buffalo.

That?s Bob Pecoraro on the left. Bob is a Jesuit priest now serving at Canisius High School (the school from which Ken and I and all my brothers graduated many years ago). Bob has just been appointed to replace Fr. Rich McAuliff as director of Xavier High School. He?s a brave man to make the instant transition from Buffalo to head of the main Jesuit ministry in Micronesia. It took us year of warm up time in the islands before we stepped into such a role. Since Bob was a chef before he became a Jesuit, we can expect good things on the faculty table at Xavier (even if not much changes for the students). Bob takes over from Rich in mid-August, although Rich will retain the title of Chancellor of Xavier.

The other young man is Dickson Tiwelfil. Originally from Woleai, he finished his college degree at COM-FSM on Pohnpei with a bachelor?s in education. Some of you might recognize him from the religious education work he did with the international community. Or maybe from his appearances on the basketball court. Dickson is just completing his two year Jesuit novitiate and will be taking his vows as a Jesuit in August?just about the time Bob is taking over the reins of Xavier High School. You?ll be seeing a lot more of that young man in years to come, I guarantee.

During my post-Easter swing through upstate New York to visit family and friends, I had the good fortune to find both of these men in Buffalo. While Bob was busy with his duties at Canisius, Dickson and I snuck out to find an open court to resume our friendly basketball rivalry. Usually it was the Canisius College recreation center, but one afternoon we went to join Fr. Ed Durkin and his students from the Nativity Middle School at the basement court of an abandoned school building. (The ?abandoned school? happened to be good old St. James, the school I graduated from over sixty years ago.) I was delighted to see it being put to such good use today in a program that should make all of us proud.

The trip upstate was a sentimental journey. But it became even more of one when Dickson and I sat down for a drink and a chat that went on for four hours. We talked about old memories, present challenges, and hopes for the future. Whatever happens in the islands in years to come, the two men you see here will be a big part of it.

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About the author

Francis X. Hezel, SJ
Francis X. Hezel, SJ

Francis X. Hezel, SJ, is a Jesuit priest who has lived and worked in Micronesia since 1963. At different times he has served as high school teacher, school administrator, pastor, and regional superior to the Jesuits of Micronesia. He spent thirty years directing the Micronesian Seminar, a non-profit, non-governmental organization based in Pohnpei, Micronesia. He has written and spoken widely about social change and its impact on island societies. He has also written several books on Micronesian history, including The First Taint of Civilization, Strangers in Their Own Land, and The New Shape of Old Island Cultures. His most recent book, Making Sense of Micronesia: The Logic of Pacific Island Culture, is available through University of Hawaii Press.