A fond memory of our new Coadjutor Bishop of the Caroline Islands

Eugenia Samuel


Editor’s Note:  Not long after Bishop Angkel was consecrated as Coadjutor Bishop for the Caroline Islands Diocese he made a visit to Pohnpei where he met with many groups of people before departing for Chuuk on Saturday.  At the last minute, The Kaselehlie Press asked Eugenia ????????? to write something about the new Bishop.  She hurriedly put this article together for us.

Bishop Julio Angkel is a native of Parem Island in the Chuuk Lagoon. Parem is a small island, one of the four islands in a group called Macheweichun, (Fefan, Parem, Totiw, and Siis) in the Southern Namoneas region in Chuuk Lagoon.

I remember Julio from our youth as we are from Macheweichun. Julio and I were high school classmates from tenth grade until we graduated from the former Truk High School in the year 1974. When I went to attend Truk High School, I did not know any young man in the school to be so well behaved, well mannered, so humble, soft spoken, and most of all, so religious, like the young man named Julio Angkel.  Even though we were classmates, we hardly spoke to one another. That was because he was not the type of boy who would go around and talk with girls.  I remember the only time he could be seen to exchange talk with girls was during his Christian fellowship with the students at the dormitories. Because of his quiet nature, I distanced myself from him.  There was not much reason for me to make conversation with him because he was a more focused person on what he was determined to do, and I believe he already had a clear ambition to become a priest and dedicate his life to the Catholic faith.

 I remember the students and the boys and girls at the school dormitories used to talk about a “young guy” from Parem who seemed to be very “dedicated to pray” and who was studying Bible with his young peers every week. I hardly saw him just hanging out among the boys. I guess he was not even the type to hang around the school campus leisurely. He must have spent his time either at home on Parem or doing important chores, unlike most of the students who enjoyed hanging out with friends if they were not in class.

Then our graduation time came, and he was named the “Outstanding male” and I was named the “Outstanding female.” That’s when I realized this young boy named Julio Angkel is really a special and outstanding one, with a warm, respectful and humble personality. I didn’t know we were related until after our graduation, and his family prepared a small feast at his residence for us. I was embarrassed to find out that we were related and that we never acquainted ourselves while we were in school.

Our families made small but very deep and meaningful speeches of encouragement to us to remember as we were both going separate ways to further our education.  Julio was not the type of boy you would expect him to talk a lot.  He was always very respectful in the way he talks and in his manners. So, even when we had that “first and last” meal after our graduation, I never even asked where he was going to school. That was because there was something about him that just made me feel so stupid to start a conversation with him. My family and I said our goodbyes to the family and we left to Fefan that evening. My mama and papa asked me where Julio was going to school, but I said to them I didn’t know.   I think at that time, he had already made up his mind to become a priest.  Can you imagine someone at that very early age and you already sensed something so special in him that you feel he deserves your respect?

Then I got married and moved to live in Pohnpei.  I used to come home to visit my parents during my business trips. People at home couldn’t stop talking about our new priest who is from our Macheweichun islands. They praised him, and they wanted him to come and give them blessings and so forth.  Julio had gone to the seminary and become a priest.

I went to the US one time and I saw a prayer (Novena) in a piece of paper at a store. It was a very nice Novena prayer that I brought to my mother and I told her, “Keep it so when I come back, I will try to translate it into Chuukese so you can pray it.” The next time I came home, it was already translated beautifully by Fr. Julio. My mom couldn’t stop praising him and saying how grateful she was that Fr. Julio had translated it into the Chuukese language; her beautiful prayer. She memorized the prayer, and she continued to brag about how meaningful and well translated the prayer was, which was very true.

People of Fefan Island have never stopped praising Fr. Julio until today, especially now that he is the Coadjutor Bishop for the Diocese of the Caroline Islands.  Personally, I respect Bishop Julio.  I went to Chuuk to join everyone in the celebration of his consecration as Bishop. I met him and greeted him on the Saturday, before his special day on the following Sunday. Sunday came and I went to attend the mass, but I did not have the chance to congratulate him. The crowd was so massive.  It was not the type of crowd I could force myself through. People of many different walks of life wanted to join the celebration for Bishop Julio. I heard from my friends and relatives that employees of the State of Chuuk’s government were given administrative leave hours on Friday and the following Monday and Tuesday to continue the celebration.

People flew to Chuuk from the US mainland, Hawaii, Saipan, and the FSM states to participate in the celebration.  Many of us from Pohnpei went down as well. Some of us went on the plane, and about 300 went over on the ship. Even though I did not play any role in the celebration, I felt satisfied for just being present and being among the proud “souleng” of Chuuk in their celebration.

Bishop Julio Angkel, in his speech on Sunday at the Saramen Chuuk School gym, said that he received a call from the Holy Pope’s representative, the Apostolic Nuncio, one night some months ago, around 2 o’clock in the morning (Chuuk time) to announce that the Pope had made the decision for him to be the next bishop of the Diocese of the Caroline Islands. The Holy Pope gathered information from his subordinates in the Catholic Faith and he finally made the decision and asked Julio if he accepted. Of course, for Fr. Julio being an obedient man, he accepted, but he also said he needs the support of us all, for without the support from the community he will not be able to do it.  I had goose bumps all over, and I was with tears for I remember the people in the Bible who were called by God to serve Him.  They were called in the middle of the night during their sleep, just like Julio was. Bishop Julio was made to become first, a servant of the Lord, then he was called to leave his parents and become his messenger, and now he’s become the Shepherd to take care of his flock. Congratulations to you, Bishop Julio Angkel!

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A bishop appointed to a Catholic diocese or archdiocese to assist the diocesan bishop. Unlike an auxiliary bishop, he has the right of succession, meaning that he automatically becomes the new bishop when the diocesan bishop retires or dies. By canon law, he is also vicar general of the diocese. If the diocese is an archdiocese, he is called coadjutor archbishop instead of coadjutor bishop. In recent years, a growing number of U.S. bishops in larger dioceses or archdioceses have requested and received a coadjutor in their final year or two before their retirement, in order to familiarize their successor with the workings of the (arch) diocese before he has to take over the reins. This minimizes the learning curve of a new bishop and eliminates completely the possibility of the diocese being vacant following the old bishop’s retirement.

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