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An after Mass photo of the female members of one of the families that attended the Chuukese Mass at Immaculate Heart of Mary, Toto, Guam. It was the first time that parishioners were in the church since Fr. Cassidy’s arrival.

Oct. 15 2020 – Fr. Matt Cassidy, SJ, while assigned to Xavier High School, Chuuk, found himself unable to reach Chuuk. The Federated States of Micronesia closed their borders in March. The closest that Fr. Cassidy could come was the U.S. territory of Guam. He arrived in August. After two weeks of quarantine Fr. Cassidy wished to prepare himself for ministry in Chuuk. In addition to helping the Principal with World History classes that he provides via the internet, Fr. Cassidy has begun ministry with Chuukese families living in Guam. Below is an update from Fr. Cassidy:

My involvement with the Chuukese community has been to a large extent facilitated by Fran Hezel and Fr. Val Rodriguez, the pastor of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Guam, who has graciously offered me to say those masses while I’m still in Guam. It was Fr. Fran who first introduced me to the Chuukese community via an online Mass, in which he celebrated and preached entirely in Chuukese. Since then I have been practicing Mass parts but I have only reached the sign of the cross, the greeting, and now I’m working on the penitential act and the responses. Minty Ruda, a catechist of the Chuukese community whose father is a deacon of the community, records parts of the Mass each week for me so that I may mimic the sounds at home. It’s going to be a slow process, but it does remind me of a valuable lesson that I learned in Ghana, language learning is ministry; in fact, it’s incarnational, the word is becoming flesh. And quite frankly, it’s quite a delight to know that the little I practiced is understood.

Archbishop Michael Byrnes with the governor’s approval opened up the churches beyond the online streaming to 25% capacity, and so now a second Chuukese Mass is taking place at Santa Barbara where Fran Hezel works. I hope to join that community, or at least meet them, in the weeks to come. I hope that I will get to make some friends in the community and that they will help me learn as much as I can while in Guam so that I may surprise the community in Chuuk, that is, whenever passenger flights resume.

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