The chapters of this volume were originally written as background papers to assist the local churches to prepare for their centennial celebrations, as these occurred over a six-year period (1986-1992) in different parts of what was then a single diocese. They were intended not as definitive church histories, but as rich source of detail, most of it related to the activities of the missionaries, that might prove helpful to local people in constructing a history that they could truly celebrate. In the end, the people of our church created their own histories according to their special cultural genius. The Yapese danced their church history; Chuukese sang and spoke theirs; and Pohnpeians dramatized theirs in skits; and Palauans used floats to represent key events in their own history.

Since no one seemed to want to be troubled with footnotes, they were never added, and there is no bibliography for the same reason. Besides, there are relatively few published articles on the mission. Most of the material from which I gleaned these accounts were letters, archival papers, a few popular pieces in mission periodicals, and whatever other scraps and bits I could find. These sources were supplemented by oral accounts from older Micronesians, who offered vivid recollections of events and persons that would have otherwise gone unrecorded. If the essays presented here are largely clerical in emphasis, so is the material with which I worked.

This volume was first published in 1991 on the occasion of the Ignatian anniversaries: the 500th anniversary of the birth of St. Ignatius, the founder of the Society of Jesus, and the 450th anniversary of the first formal recognition of the Jesuit Order. The book represented an anniversary gift from the Jesuits serving in Micronesia, our own contribution to the worldwide celebration of these events.

Although the occasion for the initial publication of this book was a Jesuit celebration, many others beside Jesuits have shared in their church work in these islands. Capuchin missionaries in the Carolines and Missionaries of the Sacred Heart in the Marshalls began the evangelization that Jesuits have continued for the past 80 years. Different groups of religious women, including the Maryknoll and Mercedarian sisters and more recently the Notre Dame Sisters, the Daughters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart and the Sisters of Marie Auxiliatrice, have assisted, as have hundreds of local lay people. In recent years, Micronesian diocesan priests have assumed an ever larger role in the pastoral care of their own people. We Jesuits can claim to have played only a part in the grand story of the evangelization of this rather small portion of the Pacific.

The second edition of the book, slightly revised and updated, was undertaken with funding assistance from the Cervantes Institute in Manila, thanks to the personal interest of its director, Javier Galvan. Inasmuch as the Cervantes Institute seeks to commemorate Spanish heritage in that part of the world that was once part of its overseas empire, reprinting of this volume seemed a fitting tribute to the foundational work of Spanish missionaries, Jesuits and Capuchin, in Micronesia. The Catholic Church in the islands today is a lasting memorial to these efforts, the most significant and enduring monument to the Spanish legacy here.

The online version of the book, and the majority of the website itself, is made possible by the generous support of the Sasakawa Pacific Nations Islands Fund.

Hezel, Francis X. "The Catholic Church in Micronesia: Historical essays on the Catholic Church in the Caroline-Marshall Islands". ©2003, Micronesian Seminar. All Rights Reserverd.