Friday, October 28, 2011


My grandmother (3rd lady from left) walking in the Saint Jude procession in Sinajaña
Early 1950s

Prior to the war, Sinajaña had a small chapel dedicated to the Dulce Nombre de Maria, the Sweet Name of Mary, just like the Hagatña Cathedral.

But after the war, the little hamlet with a small population grew to the largest village on Guam for a while, as many displaced Hagatña residents (including my own family) settled there.  A large church had to be built.  For some reason, a new patron saint was also selected.

We have (so far) no documented evidence why Saint Jude was chosen.  Saint Jude, even in the States, was not well known.  As the story goes, his counterpart Judas Iscariot gave Jude Thaddeus a "bad name" for many centuries.  Both men, the good one and the bad one, really have the same name - Judas.  That's why one had to be called a second name, Iscariot, and the other Thaddeus.  To further distinguish the good Judas from the bad, the good Judas became better known as Jude.

Still, he was not a very popular saint for hundreds and hundreds of years.  Few churches in his name, hardly any devotion to him at all.

Then came the Dominicans.  They promoted the devotion to Saint Jude because of their long missionary contact with the people of Armenia, where Saint Jude is thought to have worked and where he is highly venerated to this day.

But what connection do the people or priests in Sinajaña in the late 1940s have with the Dominicans?  None, except that, through oral history, whose accuracy cannot always be guaranteed, says that Francisco de la Cruz (Paco) introduced the novena to Saint Jude to Sinajaña after the war.  Before the war, Paco lived in both Manila and Hong Kong, with Dominicans working in both places. I wouldn't be surprised if Paco had more contact with the Dominicans in Hong Kong than those in Manila, since the Catholic Church was a small minority in Hong Kong and the Dominicans would have stood out more there than in Manila, with its huge variety of Catholic orders.

Whatever the case, Saint Jude became the patron of Sinajaña.  Since it was a post-war devotion, there was no novena in Chamorro until someone finally typed one up.  It took many more years for a Chamorro hymn to be composed to Saint Jude.  And I was "there," so to speak, when it happened.

Stationed at Saint Jude's one summer while studying for the priesthood in the States was one Jesus Sonoda from Saipan.  Being a fluent Chamorro speaker, he was asked by the pastor of Sinajaña to compose a Chamorro hymn to Saint Jude.  He did; both the music and the lyrics.  And I was present when he taught it to the kantoras (singers) and techas (prayer leaders) of the parish, guitar in hand.

I was a kid, but I remember it.  This was in the ealry 1970s.  The song was a hit and it took off.  So did the devotion, and now many parishes have a weekly devotion to him.

Ayudånte gi chinatsaga / patron i man tai esperånsa
(Helper in difficulty / patron of the hopeless)

Tayuyute ham San Jude Thaddeus / hame nu i mañe'lu-mo.
(Pray for us, Saint Jude Thaddeus / we your brethren.)
Still with guitar in hand

Composer of the Chamorro Hymn to Saint Jude "Ayudånte"

Not long after, Jess felt a different call from God, to married life - and began a family with his wife Anicia Castro.  The couple is strongly involved in Marriage Encounter and the Church.


  1. Interesting story! Pale Eric, I will commit myself to St Jude novena starting this year, I have the novena booklet, but don't know how the novena song goes. Is there a website I can reference myself and learn from it? Thank you

  2. Rose, am afraid I am off-island and won't be able to put a recording of the hymn for a long time as my travels are long. I will surely miss the October 28 deadline. But for next year I will put a recording on the blog.