April 3, 2015 – With sustained winds of 160 mph, Super Typhoon Maysak struck the Pacific region this week, causing severe damage throughout Micronesia. Maysak struck the island of Chuuk on Sunday night, bringing down communications system from the island, and hit the island of Yap on Tuesday. Jesuits from the USA Northeast Province, the Province of Indonesia, members of the Jesuit Volunteer Corp and residents of Micronesia staff the two schools that suffered losses. Xavier High School is the home to 186 students from around Micronesia and is the only boarding school among the USA Northeast Province schools.
A response plan is developing and a relief fund is being created for Xavier High School on the island of Chuuk. Fr. Robert Pecoraro, SJ, director of the school, reports that the damage sustained was major. Very preliminary estimates range between $50,000 and $100,000. There is a large number of downed trees, as well as wind and water damage to classrooms, the computer room, chapel, the student center, and study hall, as well as the faculty residence. Students, faculty and staff were all reported safe, though classes were cancelled for the full week, which included a previously scheduled Easter break.
The Jesuits, students, parents, and staff at Xavier worked to clear debris from buses, water tanks, damaged residence areas and other parts of the school. Food and supplies were being brought in by boat from surrounding islands. Xavier Principal Martin Carl, said that many Xavier campus workers lost their homes entirely and pointed out the sustained need for prayers.
Fr. Bob Pecoraro, director of Xavier, said, “While there is much work to do, we have not forgotten God’s presence in this Holiest of weeks and will hold Holy Week services for the school and residents of Sapuk in our chapel. We are aware always of God’s presence with us.” The Xavier Board which spans the globe has been mobilized to respond and is actively working for the relief efforts at Xavier, as well as the greater Chuuk community. Board Chair Rodney Jacob stated that “it is clear to the Board that our mission and responsibility is not only to Xavier but to the local community of Sapuk and the great community of Chuuk in which we live.”
On Tuesday night, Maysak passed just north of Yap. Fr. Michael Corcoran, SJ, director and principal reported, “We prepared as best we could – covering windows with plywood and tying down all the roofs. In the end, there was only minor damage – a few upturned trees on campus and part of the roof on the new chapel was torn off.”
For more than 70 years, American Jesuits have served the people of Micronesia. Xavier High School and Yap Catholic High School were founded by Jesuits from the former New York Province. The mission of Xavier High School is to educate students to be competent, conscientious, and compassionate leaders whose lives are guided by the Christian call of service. Yap Catholic High School seeks to develop the minds, hearts, souls, and characters of students in their pursuit of becoming women and men for others. Xavier is located atop Mabuchi, in the village of Sapuk, in a former Japanese communication center used during WW II. Committed to academic excellence, last year Xavier produced four Gates scholars, the first recipient of the Ushiba Scholarship to Sophia University in Japan, and an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.
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