By: Russell Thoulag
Recently, a petition has been circulating asking for signatures from the public in support of keeping Rev. Francis X. Hezel, SJ in Micronesia. The petition, written by Vidalino Raatior, asks the leaders of the Jesuits in Micronsia, the New York Province, and the world to allow Hezel to remain in the region.
As of this writing, the petition has gathered 796, with 206 signatures left needed. The fervor of the Micronesian community can be read on the petition’s comments. One comment states “Hezel is a peerless scholar and chronicler of all things Micronesia, a champion of the region and its people, and one of Micronesia's own (if not by blood, then definitely by sweat and tears and love)”
When asked about the petition, Hezel shared this with The Fourth Branch:
“I'm in a difficult position here, as you can probably appreciate. I didn't begin the petition on my behalf and I have not actively promulgated it. While I am grateful for the wonderful support of all the people who had such kind things to say about my work, I don't want to aggravate the tension between them and the Jesuits who were mentioned in the petition. My hope has been to call a halt to those divisions and work towards a common understanding and respect. This has been my intention from the beginning and it remains my aim now.
Clearly, I would very much prefer to remain in the islands and continue to work there. It's not just a matter of the comfort that comes from long years and many friends there. I find that there is always useful work to be done, and that this work has always been deeply satisfying for me as I would hope that it has been useful for the people there. If I am to leave Micronesia, it will not be because I have found better work somewhere else. I would be most happy to stay.”
TFB has reached out to Rev. David S. Ciancimino SJ Provincial, and we are awaiting his response.