Enroute to the Mountains

A fawn on the lawn at St. Isaac Jogues Center in Cornwall.

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.

In San Francisco, I met Paula Falk downtown for another lunch. Paula has long been the guiding spirit and patroness of the Historic Preservation Program in the islands. She as much as any single person provided the financial support for our seven-hour ?History of Micronesia? video series, finished ten years ago and replayed on local TV again and again.

Paula and I at lunch in San Francisco.

At Newark I found still other friends to bring me to their home in Monroe, NY?the widow and daughter of Ralph Leitner, my best friend during my early years of study with the Jesuits. Marybeth, the daughter, has a 10-year-old daughter, Sarah, who suffers from Downs Syndrome. She teaches us all that beautiful spirits come in strange forms.

Young Sarah at the table.

The following day it was off to nearby St. Isaac Jogues Center in Cornwall to spend time with the few Jesuits assigned there. Among the men I saw were Jim Gould and Joe Billotti, who both worked in the islands for years, and Peter Schineller, who was superior of our mission in Nigeria while I was trying to manage Micronesia.

Cornwall offered other attractions as well: the beautiful grounds, the swimming pool behind the main building, and the spacious living room. But the sight of deer relaxing on the lawn after feeding on the trees nearby was one of the nicest.

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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.