Final Stop: Salem, Oregon

Mass with Fr. Anthony Alis in Salem, Oregon.

Brenda Umulap, married to Pius from Pulusuk, arranged for me to give a talk to about 30 health workers associated with Salem Health, which covers hospitals and clinics in the area. The talk was focused on island culture, especially those things that might affect health matters. We began at 8:30 a.m. and finished at about 11 a.m.?a real tribute to the endurance of the listeners.

In the early afternoon we held Mass (preceded by confessions naturally) in the chapel of a nearby college. Fr. Anthony Alis, a priest from Pulusuk who would be celebrating the 5th anniversary of his ordination that weekend, was with me on the altar. Most of the congregation was outer islanders, but it was uplifting to hear those old Chuukese hymns once again. 

The snack afterwards offered an opportunity for time with friends, new and old. One old friend was Theolisa, widow of Bob Gelder, pharmacist at the Chuuk hospital. We used to call Bob ?Oddjob? after the villain in one of those James Bond movies, as I recall. Also present were Yvonne Pangelinan and Chrispino Houmarek, classmates from XHS in ?87 or ?88. The school has produced quite a few marriages between Xavier grads across cultural lines. This is one way of living up to its motto: ?That all may become One.?

In Salem with Yvonne and Chrispino Houmarek.

Louisa and Jimmy Kinder, offspring of former Chuuk PCV (1977-80) James Kinder, drove me to the airport in a drive that would have been maddening because of the traffic congestion if it weren?t for the good conversation. In the end, the drive proved all too short… just like the visit itself.  Just like the whole trip back, for that matter.

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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.