Monday, September 10, 2012



Her name was Lucia Burkhart and she was from Malesso'.

When I was a young priest, and stationed in Malesso', I would often get the flu.  Without fail, two or three times a year.  Sometimes more.

And without fail, I would get gallons of åmot Chamorro (herbal medicine) from Tan Lucia to cure me.  Sometimes someone in the parish would go ask her to make me some; sometimes she would just hear that I was sinago (with flu) and would voluntarily make it.  She never sold it.

Her medicine didn't taste all that bad.  Sometimes I'd be cured after one or two days, and still have a lot of the medicine in the fridge.

I got to see Lucia every month at her home.  By the time I knew her, she was not able to leave her house.  As a matter of fact, I think if you look at the picture above, she's sitting, maybe on a wheel chair, but nonetheless sitting, because walking was difficult for her.

Thus, she couldn't get to Mass so I brought her Holy Communion every first Friday of the month.  She lived in very humble surroundings; wooden walls and tin roofing.  Pictures of saints and statues everywhere.  The smell of Vicks.  Reminded me of my childhood.

Most of all, I was touched by Tan Lucia's graciousness, gentleness and humility.  She always gave me an envelope with Mass intentions she asked me to say.  We would talk a little.  She told me she never asked for money from people for her medicines, because "God gave her the gift" of making medicines from plants that God Himself created.

She had her physical crosses, but she still thought of relieving the sufferings of others. 

Tan Lucia's the kind of Chamorro who makes me proud of our faith and culture.  U deskånsa gi minahgong.  May she rest in peace.

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