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The Catholic Church in Micronesia: Historical Essays on the Catholic Church in the Caroline-Marshall Islands

By Francis X. Hezel, SJ

Micronesian Seminar: 2003.2003 History Religion

"Each of the five chapters [of The Catholic Church in Micronesia] has some anecdotal tales of the early days of the missions which tell much of the mind set of these religious pioneers. One must remember that in the late 1800's and early 1900's, the Western Pacific was still the great unknown for the priests, filled with all sorts of terrifying pagan beliefs. Worship of spirits and elementals abounded, complete with sacred trees, taboos, and bewildering social customs. To the early missionaries, this was war, as they chopped at sacred trees in Yap, put their legs into taboo holes in Chuuk, or smashed sacred talismans in Belau. The missionaries also found themselves battling American Protestantism in Pohnpei and the Marshalls. And it was in Pohnpei, the island that most violently resisted colonialism, that the religious occasionally found themselves dodging bullets in the tumultuous years under the Spanish and then the Germans...The tone of the book unashamedly celebrates Catholicism and the development of the Catholic church in Micronesia, so if you are looking for a critical treatise on the historical impact of western missionaries in Micronesia, this is not it. If you are interested in a chronicle of Catholic missionary work in Micronesia, this volume fits the bill, regardless of your religious persuasion."

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