Shannon Marcoux: Beginning to Understand

September 18, 2016

Jesuit Volunteer Shannon Marcoux

Jesuit Volunteer Shannon Marcoux

As I celebrate a month and a half in Chuuk and my first few days in the classroom, I find myself feeling incredibly grateful for the experience of being a Xavier teacher in ways I could not have anticipated before making the long trek here.  I was fairly apprehensive about the idea of being on the other side of the desk, as I have no formal teaching background.  The students quickly have assuaged (one of my literature classes’ vocabulary words for this week) my fears with their enthusiasm, understanding, and genuine desire to learn.  In the short time that I’ve known these young people, they have displayed a balanced combination of humor and motivation that I don’t remember from my own high school days.  They have made teaching fun and lesson planning feel completely worth the time and energy.

I thought I had worked on diverse staffs during college, but those were nothing when compared diversity of ethnicity and experience that the Xavier faculty and staff possesses. Working and living with people from all over the United States, the Philippines, Indonesia, Japan, Australia, and Micronesia has been a learning experience unlike anything I could have had back home.  I know that I will not fully understand or appreciate the uniqueness of this work environment until years from now.

In my brief experience teaching, I have already come to love the look of pure confusion that sets in when a student has his or her preconceptions challenged and he or she begins to think about something in a new way.  Having spent about six weeks in Chuuk before classes started, I was able to feel this same confusion many times myself as I encountered different aspects of Chuukese culture.  With every new fact I learn about society here, I become increasingly aware of how much I still have to learn.  Even after my two years in Chuuk, I doubt I will have done much other than brush the surface of this incredibly complex culture.  Before I came to Chuuk, past visitors told me about the communal nature of the people here, the emphasis placed on family, and the willingness to slow down and enjoy the sunset or the stars.  Words did not do any of these things justice—there was no way I was going to understand these things, even slightly, until I got here.  Even after a month and a half, I’m only beginning to understand them.

From the Director: September, 2016

September 9, 2016

Fr. Dennis Baker, S.J. blesses senior Tina Ambuyoc to start the school year at the Mass of the Holy Spirit on Wednesday, September 7th.

Fr. Dennis Baker, S.J. blesses senior Tina Ambuyoc to start the school year at the Mass of the Holy Spirit on Wednesday, September 7th.


That is the thought that crosses my mind so frequently these days.  It comes to me even now as I hear the voices of students after so many weeks punctuated by the hammering of nails and sawing of wood.  There was plenty of work done on the physical plant over the past month, and it continues:  further Typhoon Maysak repairs, a total refurbishing of the former JV house, improvements on the infirmary, and other needed rehabilitations.  Such work was and is imperative, of course, but we can never forget the purpose for all of this work.  The purpose of anything we do here is to continue to be the finest high school in the Pacific, and in so doing, help people grow closer to God.

Indeed, the sounds proper to a school finally have arrived, and those sounds have transformed a lonely campus construction site into a school teeming with life once again.

The sounds of prayer at daily Mass enliven the chapel.  Those prayers are followed by the unmistakable murmur of teenage voices and laughter that signal the wait for morning announcements in the Student Center.  The familiar gong of the school bell is known quite well to all of us, as it is rung repeatedly throughout the day.  The sound of basketballs bouncing in the gym and on the outdoor court, and bare feet gliding over the grass on the field remind us of the global appeal of athletics, especially in schools.  I wonder if people on the nearby islands of Tonoas and Fefen heard the boys practicing the music for the Mass of the Holy Spirit, as their powerful voices shook the louvers in the Student Center a few times on Monday and Tuesday night.

The most important sound around here, of course, is the sound of students learning.  Just today, Sir Rovan had his sophomores out of the classroom buildings and over to the rec shed to see the importance of observation in the study of science.  The sounds of students’ voices coming through the windows of the Director’s Office were truly a gift.  It’s hard to miss the booming voice of new teacher Mr. Will Clemens talking excitedly about the important insights of art in understanding the history of civilization.  The soft, dulcet tones of Mrs. Susan Whitelock’s voice (on loan to us from Eastern Oregon University) fill her classroom with constant encouragement for students to speak up for themselves–even using Beyoncé’s alter ego, Sasha Fierce, as a helpful example.  The sound of Mr. Ean Tierney’s piece of chalk striking the chalkboard with force and passion is inspiring, as well.  The utter silence of the Study Hall during First Study in the evening is a reminder of the work and focus it takes to succeed at this school.

These are just a few examples, of course, for each part of this campus is now joyfully overrun with the sounds of a Jesuit secondary school in full swing, even after only a few days.  These are welcomed sounds for all of us, and the excitement here is truly something to celebrate.

We hope that the sounds of your September are as joyful and holy as the sounds here on Mabuchi Hill—no matter what line of work you may be in, or where you might find yourself on the globe.

Know of our prayers for you.

For Xavier,

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A Benefit for Xavier High School (Micronesia)

August 25, 2016


If you’re in or around New York City on October 6th, please join Fr. Dennis Baker, S.J. for a reception to celebrate Xavier High School in Micronesia. This event is graciously hosted and supported by the “other Xavier High School” in Manhattan, with all proceeds coming to Mabuchi Hill.

The link below also contains a method to donate to Xavier Micronesia even if you cannot be with Fr. Baker on October 6th.

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From the Director: July 1, 2016

July 1, 2016


The first time I heard about Xavier High School in Micronesia was in 1996. I was a sophomore at Canisius High School in Buffalo, New York.  I was in Algebra II/Trigonometry class, and Fr. Rich Zanoni, S.J. was my teacher.  Fr. Zanoni cancelled class one very cold winter day to show us his photos from his time as principal of Xavier from 1976 to 1979.  I remember being captivated completely by this place once called Truk on the screen in front of me.  It would have been impossible for me to know that I’d be sent there, less than ten years later, in my second year as a Jesuit.  When I arrived, I learned everyone was using the more appropriate name of Chuuk.  When I left Xavier after my six-month assignment was complete, it would have been impossible for me to know that I’d return in exactly ten years as the Director of the school.  I always hoped I return to Micronesia someday, but I never expected it to be this soon or in this capacity.

On my first day as Director, the overwhelming emotion I feel is gratitude.  I am especially grateful for the help Fr. Bob Pecoraro, S.J. has been to me in this time of transition.  Micronesia is holy ground, surrounded by holy water.  I have had profound experiences of God’s love for me and for the world during my time there, and I draw upon such moments quite often, as if they were a kind of spiritual well. Today, I hear God’s voice softly calling me back to the Pacific and that voice elicits in me an excitement that is difficult to describe.  I think about Xavier all day long.  Micronesia is a place that has meant a great deal to me in my life, because it has cultivated within me a more robust view of the Church, the Society of Jesus, Jesuit education, and the world.  I look forward with tremendous excitement and hope for the new things I will learn there, the people who are about to come into my life, and the new ways God will reveal the kind of love that is unique to God alone.

Finally, the Superior General of the Jesuits, Fr. Adolfo Nicolás, S.J. has said that “depth of thought and imagination are distinguishing marks of the Ignatian tradition.”  As a Jesuit institution, we share in that vision of depth for our school.  There are many stories in the Gospels that involve maritime themes and adventures.  A close Jesuit friend of mine and I share a fondness for verse four from chapter five of Luke’s Gospel, in which we find Jesus in a boat with his friends.  It reads, “When Jesus had finished speaking, He said to Simon, ‘Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.’”  Micronesia is home to one of the deepest parts of the ocean–the Mariana Trench.  Perhaps it is not a small coincidence that God’s love feels so deep there, as well.

Please be assured of my prayers for Xavier as I prepare for my arrival on Mabuchi Hill later this month.

For Xavier,

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Fr. Dennis M. Baker, S.J.

New Xavier Director: Fr. Dennis M. Baker, SJ

March 25, 2016


Photo: Xavier High School, Manhattan

March 23, 2016

Dear Friends and Families of Xavier,

I write with important news. Very Rev. John J. Cecero, S.J., Provincial Superior of the United States Northeast Province of the Society of Jesus, has appointed Fr. Dennis M. Baker, S.J. as the next Director of Xavier High School, Chuuk. Fr. Baker’s term will begin on July 1, 2016.

Our current Director, Fr. Robert J. Pecoraro, S.J., will step down at that time for reasons of health. His service to Xavier began in 2014 and has been especially noteworthy with regard to financial leadership, teacher recruitment, and the identification of scholarship opportunities for our graduating seniors. We will miss him a great deal, and he has assured me of his continued prayers and his commitment to Xavier and its mission in the years to come.

Fr. Baker completed his undergraduate study at Fordham University in 2002. He holds a master of science degree in criminal justice administration from Niagara University, a master of arts in philosophy from Fordham University, and a master of divinity from Boston College. In May, he will complete a master of education degree from Columbia University’s Teachers College through the Klingenstein Center for Private School Leadership.

Fr. Baker has worked at several Jesuit schools in various capacities. Most recently, he taught history at Xavier High School in New York City. He sits on the Board of Trustees at Fairfield University in Connecticut and Regis High School in New York City. He also serves on the Board of Members of the Nativity Middle Schools of New York City.

Fr. Baker returns to Mabuchi Hill after a ten-year hiatus. He first worked at Xavier as a Jesuit novice in 2006, when he spent the second semester of the school year teaching freshman religion. This new position will mark Fr. Baker’s third assignment in Micronesia, as he also worked at Yap Catholic High School’s summer program in 2014.

Please join me in wishing Fr. Pecoraro well and in welcoming Fr. Baker back to Xavier!

Sincerely, and with our prayers for you and your families as the hope and promise of Christ fills our hearts as Easter nears,

Rodney J. Jacob
Chair, Board of Directors

Fr-Dennis-Baker-SJMeet Fr. Dennis M. Baker, SJ

Fr. Dennis M. Baker, SJ, 35, was born and raised in upstate New York. As a student at Canisius High School in Buffalo, Fr. Baker was a dedicated athlete and member of the cross country, baseball and basketball teams. His time at Canisius had a tremendous influence on Fr. Baker because he came to know the Jesuits, and it changed the way he looked at the world. He was impressed by these men who could quote Shakespeare, say Mass and even drive a snowplow while influencing young lives and forming men for others. At Fordham University in the Bronx, New York, Fr. Baker found that the seeds of intellectual curiosity planted at Canisius flowered, and he earned a bachelor’s degree in history in 2002. Interested in a career in criminal justice, he went on to earn a master’s degree in criminal justice administration from New York’s Niagara University in Lewiston, while also teaching history at Canisius. He entered the Jesuits in 2004, and as a novice spent six months in Micronesia teaching at Xavier High School in Chuuk. Returning to Fordham, Fr. Baker earned a master’s degree in philosophy in 2009 and was then missioned to Xavier High School in Manhattan, where he taught history and coached basketball and baseball. At the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, he earned a Master of Divinity degree while serving as a deacon at St. Eulalia Parish in Winchester, Massachusetts. He also volunteered at the Franciscan Food Center and served as a clerk for the Archdiocese of Boston’s Marriage Tribunal. A member of the boards of trustees of Fairfield University in Connecticut and Regis High School in Manhattan, Fr. Baker’s lifelong love of sports helped inspire his recent report for the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities on mission, identity and athletics at Jesuit schools. After ordination, Fr. Baker will pursue a master’s in educational leadership. His first Mass as a Jesuit priest will be celebrated at the Church of St. Francis Xavier in Manhattan. (Photo and bio borrowed from

Three New Scholarships Established at Xavier Micronesia

September 3, 2015

Three New Scholarships Established at Xavier Micronesia 

As Xavier begins the 2015-2016 school year, we are happy to announce the creation of three scholarships that will provide full tuition for three Xavier students.

Attorney Clayton M. Lawrence has established the Clayton M. Lawrence Scholarship.

Attorney Lawrence resides in the Federated States of Micronesia and proudly serves the people of Micronesia as the Chief Litigator for the FSM Department of Justice, where he defends and prosecutes civil or criminal actions on behalf of the Micronesian government.

This scholarship provides full tuition for four years to a student meeting the selection criteria.

Xavier freshman Belinda Saimon is the recipient of the Clayton M. Lawrence Scholarship.

The family of the late Fr. Andrew Connolly SJ has established two scholarships in his honor.

Fr. Andrew Connolly SJ taught at Xavier High School on Chuuk during his Regency assignment from 1953-1956.  He returned to Chuuk after his ordination in 1961 and served the people of Chuuk, on the main island of Weno, as well as on many outer islands, until his death in 1993.  He was a beloved priest on Chuuk.  Fr. Connolly was laid to rest in the Jesuit cemetery at Xavier High School.

The Fr. Andrew Connolly Widow’s Scholarship provides full tuition to a student meeting the selection criteria.

Xavier freshman Carlina Samachy is the recipient of the Fr. Andrew Connolly Widow’s Scholarship.

The Fr. Andrew Connolly Scholarship provides full tuition to a student meeting the selection criteria.

Xavier junior Christopher Loyola is the recipient of the Fr. Andrew Connolly Scholarship.

We are grateful for the generosity of our scholarship benefactors.

If you are interested in funding a scholarship at Xavier please contact Fr. Bob Pecoraro SJ, Xavier’s director, at .



Latest Article on Typhoon Relief Efforts

May 3, 2015

Click here to read the latest article on our efforts fro the Jesuit Conference for Asia Pacific (JCAP)

Xavier Typhoon Update #8

April 20, 2015


I arrived on site Saturday.  It is Monday here and today I will be organizing and prioritizing Xavier’s repair needs and cost estimates with Martin Carl, our principal, Boy, our construction manager, and Tofy, our maintenance supervisor.  I must say that I returned to Xavier along a route that while very familiar in many places looks very different.  The loss of foliage, trees, pieces of houses was quite striking.
It was immediately clear that we are “in this together” when stepping out of the Chuuk airport I ran into one of our host families who thanked me for the supply of rice they had received from us that very day.  In talking with Principal Carl last night he relayed the sentiments of gratitude from our host families and our workers and neighbors in the Sapuk. community.  Martin and I reflected together on the Ignatian understanding of love manifesting itself in deeds not words in the Contemplation to Love as God Loves in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola and how we are engaging in exactly what Ignatius would have us do in these situations.
On a joyous note, the annual Chuuk Track and Field Days began this morning at 5am with the one mile relay.  I was able to say a prayer for the boys and girls teams before they left.  They returned during morning assembly with the great news that the boys won first and the girls second in their respective divisions.  It is consoling that amidst repairs and planning and many concerns throughout Chuuk at this time this week will allow students and supporters to compete and cheer and smile and laugh.  Keep our track and field teams in your prayers as they continue this week of competition that they have trained diligently for all year.
Thank you again for your support and prayers during the rebuilding process.
God bless,
Fr. Bob

Ambassador Takesy ’63 Signs Xavier Typhoon Relief Letter with Fr. Bob and Board Chair Rodney Jacob

April 17, 2015

Please click the link below to read and share the letter.

Xavier Typhoon Relief Solicitation Letter

Province News On Typhoon Relief

April 9, 2015

Click here to read the story

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