Three hours west of Minneapolis is a small town named Milan with a listed population of 360 on the sign. The sign needs to be updated. At least 400 Chuukese from the single island of Romanum have been added to the population. Bob Ryan, a man who has done as much as anyone else to welcome and settle the Chuukese migrants, met me at the airport and drove me to Milan to visit the people there.Read More
My time in Washington consisted of two relaxed evenings with friends in shorts and sport shirts, and a formal lunch at the posh Army-Navy Club at Farragut Square. For the latter I had to borrow button-down shirt, tie and sports jacket. (They never even noticed that I was wearing sandals without socks.)Read More
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.??Read More
During our visit to New York City, Terry Todd and I stayed at the Jesuit retirement home, Murray-Weigel Hall. The place was filled with retired Jesuits I had grown up with. Jack Curran, known as one of the intellectuals, had been moved to the center ten years ago because of Alzheimer?s. Now he sits in a wheelchair all day long, his eyes fixed on a TV screen seeing images and hearing words that he can not possibly understand. As Terry and I approached him, his eyes never once left the screen and he never showed any signs of recognition of our presence. This was the saddest experience I had there.?Read More
The JVI reunion started out simply as a plan for bringing together a few young people who had done their volunteer service in Micronesia. Brother Terry Todd, who himself had served in the islands for many years, was invited to join us. But Terry knew others he wanted to invite. In the end, we had nearly 20 people there?perhaps 15 former Jesuit volunteers who had served a couple of years in Pohnpei or Chuuk, along with five Jesuits who worked in the islands: Jerry Menckhaus, Vin DeCola, Joe Billotti, Terry Todd and myself.Read More
On the flight from Guam, we had a long layover in Tokyo, allowing me time to enjoy lunch with Ikuko Matsumoto, a long-time friend. Ikuko was once the Asian Development Bank country officer to FSM, but she has since gone into a doctoral program in religious studies at Sophia University. She was the one who graciously escorted me on my memorable week-long trip to Japan last year. After the ritual book-swapping that often begins our conversations, we talked for three hours on Xavier graduates and their role in shaping the island church and the government, among other things.Read More
I shouldn?t have to spend every weekend at the parish, I told myself as I got ready to fly off to Honolulu for the long Thanksgiving weekend. My long-time friend, Jason Aubuchon, was hosting a dinner for a few other old cronies besides myself: Kevin O?Keefe and Steve Savage and Pat Billington. It was the old Micronesian gang gathering on neutral ground to share stories and imagine what might happen in the future.
Our visit to Nagasaki was soul-stirring for me. The place is distinguished by suffering and, even more touchingly, by the noble response to this suffering. It?s as if the sweet smell of sanctity (as they would have put it back in the old days) is everywhere. The city and its surroundings are the site of a couple massacres. There was the well-known devastation wrought by the atomic bomb in 1945 that took over 70,000 lives?nearly 150,000 if you include those lost in the explosion in Hiroshima just a few days earlier. Then there was the other lesser-known wave of killings that began about 400 years ago with the persecution of Christians, concentrated mostly in the area of Nagasaki. The estimated number of Japanese Christians killed over the years is 250,000.