About 50 years ago–it must have been in the early 1970s–I first met Angken Rapun on Tol, the westernmost island in Chuuk. Angken was hard to miss. He was a rugged, good-looking young man who told me he had played football on Guam during his high school days. That was easy to believe, given his size. In 1968, not long after his return to Chuuk, he married Kintina. They had several children–most of them as well-built as their dad–and the couple would have celebrated their golden wedding anniversary next year if Angken had lived.Read More
I knew there was something special about 2021, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Then, just the other day, it came to me. This year–in fact, this month–marks one century of Jesuit work in Micronesia.Read More
Once upon a time all the Sunday services were filled—or at least so we imagine. Where did all those former worshipers go?
Let’s go back to the 1960’s when the drop-off in church attendance began. The ‘60s was a time of social revolution when people protested on all kinds of issues: Black rights, the Vietnam War, and free speech. By the end of that decade, however, the clamor was for the freedom of the individual person from social conventions and anything else that might confine it. “Give me the freedom I deserve to become whatever I wish. Let me be me!”Read More
“Heroes” is what the press in many places would often call them. In the Big Apple they often went by the name of “New York’s finest.” They are the men and women in uniform who serve our city, our island, our nation, in the eyes of Americans. These uniformed heroes included police officers along with firemen and members of the US military. In past months COVID-19 nurses and doctors have joined their ranks as well. All of them deserve the highest honor their fellow citizens can bestow on them, since they put their lives on the line to provide the security and comfort that we enjoy.Read More
Stand outside the new Guam museum and read what’s inscribed on the wall: “Before these (Spanish) people arrived, we didn’t know rats, flies, mosquitoes… and disease.” Just to underscore that point, there are the statues of the chiefs (Hurao and Aguarin) who resisted the foreigners, those despoilers of this land.
Cross the street and catch the Sunday mass at the cathedral, with its own array of statues, its spirited singing, and its faithful followers. This all started, of course, with Diego Luis de San Vitores and his companions, who came to share their faith with the people of these islands.Read More
Everyone used to call him Nico, but I preferred using first names. So I asked him one day why his parents had named him Adolfo. He smiled as he reminded me that Spain was involved in a violent civil war when he was born, and that the leader of one of the nations strongest in its support of the “Catholic side” of the war was a guy by the name of Adolf.
Nico, Adolfo, or whatever you want to call him, was the provincial of Japan about the same time I was superior in Micronesia. That was how we became friends. At the weekly semi-annual meetings of the superiors in the assistancy, I came to know and like him more and more during our time together.Read More
Lent, I would tell our parishioners, was supposed to be a slow, deliberate walk through the desert for forty days. We Catholics were expected to tone down our lifestyle: giving up gourmet meals, cutting down on meat, possibly doing without dessert, and making other little sacrifices in the spirit of the season. For me it was trying to do without the gin and tonic that I enjoyed in the evening. All for a good reason, of course, but that still didn’t make the days go by any faster. Lent was always an endurance test as we plodded along through the barren landscape.
Well, my friends, the season of Lent pales in comparison with the quarantine imposed on us now that the first cases of COVID-19 have been reported on Guam. Even as the virus was capturing the attention of the world, the tourist havens on the island were becoming unusually quiet. We could walk into what had once been a crowded restaurant and have the place pretty much to ourselves.Read More
What’s going on these days?
A fair question, and one that a friend of mine asked me the other day. If you were to look at the photos on my Facebook page, the answer might be: group hugs and lots of food.
In fact, though, that is only part of the answer. There’s surely nothing wrong with friendship and food, but while waiting for the next group meal, we have to find something useful to do. (That insistence is part of my Teutonic DNA, I suppose.) Of course, I have masses and other parish responsibilities here in Dededo. Besides that, there is the obligatory 30-45 minutes of exercise each day–at the village basketball court if the kids happen to feel kind to old-timers, or on the treadmill in front of the mammoth TV screen watching a sports event or an ancient movie.Read More