Furlough to the Mainland II

Jim Gould and cousin Ken, Jesuit teammates over the years.

Two Days in the Hudson Valley

On September 3, I took the plane to Newark after a series of annoying run-ins with airport officials. Maybe the early hour (5 AM) was responsible, but polite old Minnesota didn’t seem quite as warm and tender as Garrison Keillor represented his state on “Prairie Home Companion.”  The TSA people were especially rude, as I went through a surprising delay while they checked out a Kindle in my carry-on bag.

Beth and her mother Liz with their visitor

Beth Zeman picked me up at the airport and took me to her house. We had a Eucharistic liturgy and lunch with her mother Liz Leitner, the wife of my best friend in early Jesuit years. At Beth’s house we joined her husband Ted and Sarah, her Down Syndrome daughter, for a long and chatty dinner. We talked old American songs (sparked by the death of Jimmy Buffet), theology and church practice, and much more. It was a warm and friendly evening.

Sarah, the darling of the family

The next day Beth drove me to Murray-Weigel Hall, the Jesuit retirement house, where I spent a little time with one-time coworkers: Jerry Menckhaus, Tom Smith, Joe Billotti, and Arthur Leger. I expected to see cousin Ken, but he was then in Cornwall. We finally connected when I got back to Cornwall in the middle of the afternoon. I joined him and Jim Gould for a review of all that was happening in Micronesia after dinner.

Jim Gould took me to Albany, where we met Jerry Finin, an old friend from Hawaii, who brought me the rest of the way to the Adirondacks. Jerry shared with me that he feels written off by the island nationalists who now are in charge of his old program at EWC. But he said that this is just a phase that people go through, as happened in the Philippines before foreigners and locals were able to reestablish a good working relationship. Will the same happen on Guam, I wonder?

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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.