Over 100 years ago, the Catholic faith was brought to the outer islands (fanapi). Today it has undergone a maturation process. It was brought to these islands by Spanish and German missionaries and expanded by American Jesuits after WWII. While the faith community continues to grow, the needs are also great. Yet the resources have shrunk to practically zero. When the Christian faith came to these islands, it also brought with it a dependency on foreign supplies to build more “permanent” church buildings. Those needs were met by benefactors from around the world. The American Jesuit priests who served these islands, for example, such as Fr. Angus Morrison, SJ and Fr. Kevin Fahey, SJ, were supported by the global Jesuit Order and their friends around the world.
When the Jesuits passed the leadership of the Church to the local Diocesan priests such as Fr. Florentinus Akkin, they took with them the global support system. The local leadership was left to fend for themselves locally. When the church buildings that the Jesuits built needed new roofs, the Diocesan priest had to depend on local collections. For the Jesuits, the renovation of a church can be accomplished in one single request to the expansive list of rich benefactors. The Diocesan priests like Fr. Akkin, on the other hand, have to rely on their parishoners. Their food, fuel costs, and personal needs come from local revenue.
In the Namonweito islands where my high school and college classmate Fr. Akkin serves, this is especially challenging. Out there there are no jobs except for the few teachers. The average Sunday collections is about $1.25 total. Yes, that’s one dollar and twenty five cents. One single corrugated roof on the church costs $27.95 in Chuuk. And the gasoline to transport the single roof to the outer islands is about $6.00 a gallon.
The globally-based Catholic faith has truly become locally owned in the outer islands of Micronesia. On the outer island of Unanu, the St. Cecilia Church have decided to reclaim their local tradition by constructing their local church from local materials. Like their ancestors, the people of Unanu have valued their age old cultures and customs. They have realized that their locally produced materials are far more superior than foreign imported building materials. For one, their local huts are built from local materials and cost nothing to use or replace. A local hut built from local fibers, coconut palms, tree trunks cost nothing, abundant, and sustainable.
But the support for their parish priest Fr. Floren is still a challenge. The people still have no jobs yet the parish priest still has to serve the other islands traveling by motorboat. He still has to travel over hundreds of open ocean to the main center for meetings, trainings, and to secure other services. He still has to travel to other outer islands for sacramental needs.
How to Help
Deposit: Please deposit funds into Fr. Akkin’s bank account to help him meet the needs of the people in the outer islands. Any amount will help.
Name: Florentinus M. Akkin
Address: Onoun Island
Bank: Bank of Guam, Chuuk Branch #04
Pwo: St. Cecilia Church on Unanu invites people from the outer islands (fanapi) who are interested in winning the pwo to deposit their bid (minimum: $50) in the above bank account. The pwo will be sent to the highest bidder / donation. You can deposit your bid in the above bank account. The bidding process will stop July 30, 2012 while donations are still welcomed. The pwo winner will be announced here.
For more questions, please contact Fr. Floren Akkin (firstname.lastname@example.org).