Saint Ignatius of Loyola
Feast Day July 31
Founder of the Society of Jesus (The Jesuits)
I. MY CHAMORRO FAMILY IS CATHOLIC BECAUSE OF THE JESUITS
As far as I can tell, because our records don't go back very far, these are all the surnames included on the Chamorro side of my family tree :
These are all Hagåtña names. And none are pure, indigenous Chamorro names. But somehow these Spanish, Mexican, South American, Filipino and possibly Portuguese settlers married Chamorro women and their descendants spoke Chamorro and lived the Chamorro culture and, above all, did not consider themselves Spanish, Mexican, Filipino or anything other than Chamorro.
And they were all Catholic.
Whoever were my pure Chamorro ancestors, at some point, became Catholic. Thanks to :
Blessed Diego Luis de Sanvitores
Founder of the Catholic Mission of the Marianas
II. AMERICAN JESUIT MISSIONARIES GAVE ME GOOD EXAMPLE
The missions south of Guam, the Carolines and Marshall Islands, were sponsored by American Jesuits. When they would travel to Guam, they often stayed at the Capuchin Friary where I lived. That's how I got to know a few of them.
They were older; in their 60s, 70s and 80s. They had spent 20 or more years in small islands, many without electricity. Some of their islands had just 300 people on them.
They lived a very simple life; building chapels and churches with simple material. They learned the native languages and knew everyone in their islands.
When they stayed at the Friary, I saw how materially simple they were. One older Jesuit came in from the airport around 2AM and couldn't find a key to his guest room. So we found him sleeping on the hard floor at 630AM. But he had no complaints; "I'm used to it," he said.
They had a great demeanor about them. Balance. Pleasant, friendly but with a kind of dignity. A kind of hardness, but in a manly way. Fatherly.
In conversation, nothing taken to extremes. Neither sullen nor loquacious. On church topics, nothing extreme either. It seemed to me one could never get into an argument with them, because it takes two to argue.
Later I learned Ignatius' teaching about trying to find commonality with others and lead by gentle persuasion. These men were conversing with fellow priests, most of them of the same generation and Catholic culture. There was hardly anything to argue about. Still, there was a kind of civility in their tone.
Jesuit Bishop Martin Neylon had that Jesuit cordiality. I do not speak of his record as a bishop; I was aware not every priest agreed with his policies, but what's new about that in the Church?
Father Hugh Costigan was a giant of a missionary. He founded a trade school on the island of Ponape, with funds he obtained from all over the globe. He had friends everywhere. He was a tall man. Formerly in the Philippines and spent World War II there under the Japanese. He knew Father Dueñas because of that and defended Father Dueñas against Tweed's accusations of breaking the seal of confession.
Jesuits were my professors....summer Scripture classes on Guam; various classes in Berkeley; pastoral counseling at Creighton.
Jesuits were my spiritual directors for a while.
III. IGNATIAN RETREATS
All during my formation years as a future priest, my annual retreats were Ignatian, based on Jesuit spirituality.
Sometimes we were lucky to have a Jesuit passing through Guam and could do an 8 day retreat on Guam. Other times, I'd fly to Saipan and do a retreat there with a Jesuit.
Two directors I remember well. Father Rice from the Jesuit retreat house in Cebu (Philippines) and Father Orlando Torres from Puerto Rico, who I hear is some higher official now in Rome.
One retreat was particularly important to me. It was with Father Rice at Maturana Hill in Saipan. The summer of 1987. I was going through a severe testing of my vocation. The details are not important. It had nothing to do with celibacy. It had everything to do with attachment to success. Ignatius' focus on freedom from attachments was just what I needed.
But freedom is not something you decide to have; flip a switch and there you have it. It is a grace. But I got that grace, unexpected and unplanned - as grace often is - one night on that retreat. The moment the freedom came, around 9PM, I had to go see Father Rice, who graciously received me even though he was done for the night.
I will be forever grateful for those Ignatian retreats and recommend them if they are done well.
I always try to get my hands on anything written by Ignatius. I love his way of thinking. "Our manner of proceeding...." Not only what to do, but also how to do it.
Great synthesis of human psychology and Catholic faith.
So, thanks, Bishop Neylon, Fathers Fahey, Nicholson, Costigan, Rice, Sullivan, Mulhauser et al. Much appreciated!
TOP THREE THINGS I HAVE GOTTEN FROM THE JESUITS
- God's actions are like water drops on a sponge; the devil's like a waterfall on rocks.
- Go in their door, as long as they come out your door.
- Think about how you're going to do it, not just that you'll do it.