What is the mission of the church today, and how can we best carry it?out in the islands today? Those were the driving questions behind the?diocesan workshop that was held in Chuuk towards the end of July.?Following their retreat, most of the local priests attended, but many?others were also on hand?about 80 people in all. They didn?t sit silently?and just listen, either. Joe Saimon from Pohnpei, Santi Asanuma from?Palau, Deacon Joseph Albert from Chuuk, and Deacon Burdensio?Andreas from Pohnpei were just some of the many who contributed to?the active discussion in the workshop. At the end of the week, we did?some minor editing on the old vision statement for the church in?Micronesia before we adopted it. We can hope that it will help us focus?on our task in the years ahead.
From Chuuk after the workshop it was on to Minneapolis for the?wedding of Tim Smit and Sheraldine. Tim was once a Jesuit Volunteer?on Pohnpei, but stayed on for a couple more years to write a high?school textbook on the history of FSM. The brought a few former volunteers from Pohnpei?together?Luke Lavin and his wife Amy (Luke was an old basketball?buddy of Tim and me, although his wife could outscore any of us),?Megan Hendricks (who was famous for weekend singing gigs at the?Rusty Anchor), and Meghan Orgemann (who coached girls track on?Pohnpei during her time as a PCV). We celebrated by all getting out on?the floor for a rousing version of YMCA.
The next day it was off to Milan, Minnesota?now home to about 200?Chuukese from Romanum?to do a late Sunday mass that was also a?celebration of eight church marriages. The two Chuukese Angies have?done a great deal for this community?Angie Engichy from nearby Two?Harbors and Angela Nuokos, a Benedictine sister living in Kansas City.?The reception after the mass showed the usual island spirit, although?the local men didn?t give an inch on the basketball court afterwards. I?went 0?-4 for the evening.
Back in the Twin Cities the next day, I had a chance to catch up with?Marty Doyle, an ex?Jesuit who has acquired a wonderful family. Then?to Kansas City for a visit with the Benedictine Sisters (the community?headed by Sr. Agnes Helgenberger). The pastoral highlight there was?an evening mass preceded by over two hours of confessions. All of this?removed any doubt I might have had that the visit would prove useful.
Finally it was off by car to St. Louis to visit my old friend Jason?Aubuchon and his family for an overnight stay before heading on to?LA. The evening was terrific, testifying to something I?m learning?more deeply as I age: that time spent with old friends is not just nice;?it?s precious. “Priceless,” as the old TV ads put it.