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11/21/2012 9:15:00 AM
Chuukese Catholics gather in Salem Nov. 24
Photo contributed by John family
Chuukese Catholics gather for prayer after Mass in Salem.
Photo contributed by John family
Chuukese Catholics gather for prayer after Mass in Salem.

SALEM — Increasingly, islanders from Chuuk are joining the diverse parish community at St. Vincent de Paul Church here, but they have been slow to embrace active participation in the parish and liturgy.

That the Mass is celebrated in a language that is not their primary may be part of the barrier that prevents some Chuukese speakers from feeling at home.

Father Joseph Heuberger and a handful of prayer group leaders hope to create a welcoming atmosphere for the dozen Chuukese families in the parish community. They are coordinating an event at 10 a.m., Saturday, Nov. 24, in which Chuukese Catholics from Oregon and Washington will share in fellowship. At the gathering, attendees will begin to formulate a plan to bring a visiting Chuukese priest to Salem to celebrate Mass and administer the sacrament of reconciliation.

Every week, St. Vincent de Paul’s islander families gather in one another’s homes to pray the rosary. J-Jan John and her sister started the weekly tradition, and slowly more and more families joined them. Today, parishioners’ sitting rooms are packed as they gather in front of a statue of Mary that travels from house to house.

John is among the organizers of the Nov. 24 gathering.

“We’re really looking forward for everyone to get together,” she said. “We are very proud to be part of this church.”

Chuuk is part of the Four Federated States of Micronesia. The people of Chuuk have their own culture and language, different from the other islanders.

St. Vincent de Paul Church is located at 1010 Columbia St. NE. 

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