Guam’s Archbishop Byrnes leading by example


Archbishop Michael Byrnes lives a simple life. You can see him walking in his sandals in the parking lot at the Agãna Shopping Centre after grocery shopping.

Writing in Pacific Daily News, Haidee Eugenio says you can also spot him with other clergy in the food court of the Micronesia Mall in Dededo. Or having his hair cut just like anyone else.

“I hope that people will remember that I am approachable,” he said. “In places like Detroit, I could go incognito. I really can’t here.”

He does not drive a fancy car. He usually does not have an entourage. He offered the chancery and the archbishop’s residence to be among those properties that can be sold to help compensate victims of clergy sex abuses.

Given that he has lived most of his life in Detroit, where freezing temperatures are common some months, living on the tropical island of Guam means a lot of adjustments.

In October, one year after his arrival, he told Kuam News’ Krystal Paco, “I’m at a lot of firsts. The first thing was getting over the shock of coming to a place I’ve never been before.

“I remember getting up that very first morning and one of the first things I had was a meeting with the lawyers.”

Then, there were only 20 clergy sexual abuse lawsuits lodged against the Archdiocese of Agãna, now there are 140 and counting. “That’s been a constant source of distress,” said the archbishop. “I’d love to be able to do more. I just don’t know the venue for it.

“I think once we’re through with the legal case, we’ll have a greater freedom to extend more pastoral care.”

Byrnes is working at bringing people back to church with stronger faith than they had before.

With his groups of advisers and people he has met along the way, he is leading efforts to rebuild trust in the church. He says hope and healing ultimately come from one’s faith in God.

“There’s still brokenness but everything can be overcome,” he said.

“I hope we can lead the church in Guam to kind of recover its mission and also even just to figure out what that specific mission is,” he said.


Additional reading

News category: Asia Pacific.

Tags: , ,