Dave Andrus: 50 Years a Jesuit and 30+ Years an Adopted Micronesian

Dave Andrus, SJ

We had no way of knowing, when young Dave Andrus entered the Society in 1971, what a treasure he would be for our mission in Micronesia. Born in Louisiana, Dave would spend most of his Jesuit life in these islands. More than that, he would become, in his own quiet and unassuming way, the lifeblood of the Pohnpei church for three decades or more.

You might not think of Dave as a leader exactly. Most of us knew him as something of a church mouse. He made no fuss: quietly cooking meals, reading in his room, and now and then showing up in the TV room, especially when the LSU football team had a televised game. Terry Todd, his polar opposite—the guy who always let you know when he entered the room—once quipped of Dave that he was undercutting the image of New Orleans, the Big Easy, with his quiet ways.

Dave entered the Jesuits soon after graduating from Louisiana State University, and first appeared in the islands when he was assigned to teach at Xavier 1974-1976. He calmly endured the shifts in education trends during those years, even when it meant major curriculum revision as individualized instruction became the new normal for the time. When he returned to the islands after ordination in 1981, he took up his new assignment on Pohnpei.

Dave eventually became the helmsman of the church on Pohnpei. For years he ran the deacon training program, and so he was responsible for training a new generation of pastors on Pohnpei (deacons have long served as pastors there). Throughout most of this time, he was also the main administrator of the church on Pohnpei, even when someone else bore the title of “Vicar.”  On the side, he translated liturgical materials into Pohnpeian, organized the files in the Pohnpei office, and gave retreats to the local clergy.

During the mid-1990s, he left the islands when he was asked to take up a new assignment as assistant to the novice director back in his home province. But even in this new position, he was finding time to help the church in the islands by translating the mass prayers and anything else he could find into Pohnpeian. (By the way, no one ever complained that his command of the language was just middling!).

Dave’s quiet manner can hide his manifold achievements in Micronesia. For nearly his entire priestly life he has been a missionary with a capital M. This is not to say that he has not experienced changes of his own. Lately he has been an avowed advocate of environmental issues and a champion of “Laudato Si”, those who know him have found. (Don’t you dare toss those plastic bottles into the underbrush when Dave is around, and remember to put the empty cans into that special trash bag!) 

He might not be your typical Bourbon Street guy, but he has worked wonders in his new home on Pohnpei. We thank God for his presence among us.

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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.