“Silver bells, silver bells. It’s Christmas time in the city…” That was the song the St. Andrew’s choir presented at our first Christmas dinner in the seminary 65 years ago. At those words, the faces of my fellow novices fell as we remembered what we had left behind just a few months earlier. Today, when I listen to the song the touch of nostalgia is still there, but now it brings a smile, in recognition of all the happy memories in the islands as well as back “in the city.”Read More
You’ve heard enough about COVID and political warfare, one as toxic as the other and both of them shrouding much of the past year. I won’t mention them again. Instead, what if I just repeat a line that I often use at the close of these Christmas letters when I wish you… peace and a heart open to all.
That’s not just a pious wish. It’s a passionate pursuit of mine and a lifetime goal in my ministry from the very start—and that, my friends, is a long time ago! Please permit me to track a few of the big steps along the way.Read More
One of the keynotes of this past year was a home visit during the summer. It was highlighted by a week with a family that has grown closer over the years, even if the members of this broad group are scattered throughout the northeast.
Where exactly is home? I sometimes ask myself. Surely not Buffalo, where I haven’t lived for the past sixty years, even though the city holds warm memories from long ago and is still the residence of some family and good friends. Not even Chuuk and Pohnpei, places that offer other rich memories and bonds. Nor Guam, where I currently work. As a Jesuit friend of mine, who passed away early this year, used to say of the island in which he spent much of his life: “We have here no lasting city.”Read More
Advent, the four weeks before Christmas, is traditionally a time of waiting. Kids everywhere know full well what this means, as their parents shop and decorate in preparation for the big day.
For me, waiting has defined the whole year… Waiting for the arrival of grant funds so that we can complete our video documentary on a major historical event on Pohnpei a century ago… Waiting for the local support we?re seeking to begin work on a new film on the homeless people on Guam, some 800 people without shelter… Waiting for the completion of the new website that will offer public access to the treasures of the MicSem library, now housed in Chuuk.
Advent has always been a season of wonders for me. The rich readings from Isaiah and other prophets promise all kinds of miracles?flowers in the dry wilderness, pools of water in the desert, sound health to the maimed. Then there are the smiles and warm thanks from the homebound I visit at this time of the year.
A couple of nights ago I attended a wake for a Pohnpeian youth who had been stabbed to death two days earlier. It happened in a drunken fight here on Guam outside the Hemlani Apartments?a low-end unit situated right next to what looks like might be the island dump. The Hemlani Apartments have made the front page of the local newspaper quite a few times over the past year, usually because of some minor crime or drunken brawl.
Old age and Christmas season are a tough combination. The old Yuletide favorites?with their ?silver bells? and ?sleigh bells? and ?jingle bells,? their wistful ?I?ll be home for Christmas,? not to mention the familiar melodies themselves?are dripping with nostalgia. As if an old-timer like me, head packed with fond memories, needed any more reminders of happy days past and marvelous holiday seasons!