The Survivors: Ordination Class of 1969

Joe Godfrey, Vince Genovese, Tony Azzarto, Jim Keenan and me celebrating the 50th anniversary of our ordination.

The next stop was Philadelphia, where five of us ancient Jesuits gathered at St. Joseph?s University to celebrate our 50th anniversary of ordination. The party of five included Joe Godfrey, Vince Genovese, Tony Azzarto, Jim Keenan and me. Our time together did full justice to the city in which it was held: ?the city of brotherly love.??

I couldn?t help but remember our past gatherings over the years. There was the celebration of our 25th anniversary of ordination in 1994, with a dozen or so attending. In 2006, we held a gala for the 50th anniversary of our entrance into the Society, with about as many. In 2016 we gathered again for our 60th anniversary as Jesuits, with seven present. At this latest gathering we had five. The Grim Reaper was mainly responsible for the dwindling numbers, of course. But so was loss of memory. The five of us would have been seven, but two entirely forgot about the event: a warning of what we can expect in the years to come!

The reunion three years ago, with Peter Fink and Dick Blade added.

After our celebratory liturgy in the community chapel, we moved to a small cottage for an evening of drinks and dinner and conversation. Needless to say, we shared stories of the old days (a standard feature of any gathering at our age). We also tried to figure out what happened to all our former colleagues who left the Jesuits, sometimes just a year or two after their ordination.

Once upon a time we might have partied well into the night, but old-timers no longer do that sort of thing. Hence, with so much left unsaid, we broke up at 9 PM and all trundled off to our bedrooms.

The next morning I had breakfast with Joe Flear. Joe is a retired doctor who had worked many years in Yap before he moved to Pohnpei to teach at the Medical Officers Training Program. That was where I met him in 1992. Joe and I worked together on a survey of various types of disease throughout the islands. After another several years in Fiji working in the medical school there, he retired to care for his parents, by then in their 90s.

From there it was on to Washington.

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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.