June 16, 2014 — On May 31, 2014, the Jesuits’ Yap Catholic High School (YCHS), located on a small Micronesian island in the Western Pacific Ocean, celebrated its first graduating class. And although Jesuit Father David Ciancimino, provincial of the New York Province Jesuits, had made the 8,000-mile journey to Yap just a few months before, he wouldn’t miss the opportunity to salute the outstanding students and faculty members who make up YCHS.
American Jesuits have served in Micronesia since the end of World War II, and YCHS is the newest Jesuit ministry on the islands. Fr. Ciancimino missioned Jesuit Fathers Michael Corcoran and John Mulreany to the island of Yap in 2011 to start YCHS. Within five weeks, the two Jesuits, along with two volunteer teachers, welcomed 35 students into its first freshman and sophomore classes. This year, all members of the YCHS Class of 2014 were accepted into four-year colleges in the U.S., with many receiving generous scholarship support.
YCHS and Xavier High School on the island of Chuuk are staffed by Jesuit priests, scholastics, local people and volunteers, some of whom hail from various parts of the United States. The schools provide students with educational and spiritual enrichment and resources, such as a student center and Internet access. Teachers at the schools encourage students to deepen their faith, help others, attend college and dream of a bright future in service of their local communities.
In addition to the two high schools, Jesuits serve Micronesia in a number of other ways. In early 2014, Fr. Ciancimino and Jesuit Father Edward Quinnan, assistant for pastoral ministry, visited Jesuits, volunteers, students and parishioners at apostolates on the islands of Pohnpei, Chuuk, Guam, Yap and Palau.
On Pohnpei, Fr. Ciancimino and Fr. Quinnan met with Jesuits who celebrate the sacraments and support ongoing formation efforts for the local church. In Guam, they visited Jesuit Father Tom McGrath, who resides at the Catholic cathedral and works at a nearby Navy hospital. In Palau, they visited three Jesuits who work in a local Catholic high school and provide pastoral ministry in several community parishes.
“The people of Micronesia, and particularly the students there, are wonderfully faith-filled and incredibly hard-working,” said Fr. Ciancimino. “They are deeply grateful for the spiritual, emotional and educational support that Jesuits and our partners in ministry provide so well and with so much grace in that region.”
Click below to watch a 2012 video from the New York Province Jesuits on the building of YCHS.
[Sources: New York Province (Taking Flight: Visiting the Jesuit Works of Micronesia, Yap Catholic High School Celebrates Class of 2014)]