Palau, the Caroline Islands, Pohnpei, Chuuk, Saipan,
the Marshall Islands, the Mariana Islands, Guam. Memories of our geography
classes may come to mind as we hear these names of islands or archipelagos in
the western part of the Pacific Ocean. They are often distant from each other
and seldom in the headlines. For the Jesuits, however, it is a region of active
missionary presence marked by creativity and a sense of adventure, and this has
been the case for 100 years now.
fact, already in the days of the “First Society”, the Society of Jesus could
celebrate a century of missionary activity in the Mariana Islands since Spanish
Jesuits of the Philippine Province arrived there in 1668 and were able to work until
the expulsion of the Society from all territories linked to the Spanish crown
in 1769. It is noteworthy that the first five Spanish Jesuits in the Marianas
were accompanied by a 13-year-old Filipino boy, Pedro Calungsod, who offered
his services as sacristan. Originally from Cebu, he became a catechist and died
a martyr in Guam in 1672. He was canonised by Benedict XVI in 2012.