Thursday, March 24, 2016


Sadly, one day soon there will be almost no confessions said in Chamorro, as fewer and fewer people speak it. There will still be speakers of Chamorro in years to come, but I think it is safe to say fewer of them will confess in Chamorro, or confess at all in any language.

Having spent three years in Saipan and two years in Malesso' and Humåtak in the 1990s, when there were still many older people who could only confess in Chamorro, and others who just preferred to confess in Chamorro, I had plenty of experience hearing confessions in Chamorro.

As we all should know, a priest can never reveal what he hears in confession. But the general dialogue, before and after the sins are confessed, is known to everyone. And the list of common sins committed by many people are known to all. I, too, have confessed in Chamorro many times when I confessed to an older, Chamorro priest such as Msgr Calvo or Father Ferdinand Pangelinan, Capuchin.

P :  Påle' (priest)
K : I kumokonfesat (the one confessing)

Confession in Chamorro always starts out this way :

P : Åbe Maria purisima. (Hail Mary most pure)
K : Sin pekådo konsebida. (conceived without sin.)

K : Bendise yo' Påle' sa' umisao yo'. Esta treses meses desde i uttimo kumonfesåt-ho (or konfesåt-ho). Estague' i isao-ho siha. (Bless me Father for I have sinned. It has already been three months since I last confessed. Here are my sins.)

Guaha na mañakke yo', dos biåhe. (I have stolen, two times.)

Guaha na hu sångan i na'an Yu'us sin nesesidåt, kuåttro biåhe. (I have said God's name without necessity, four times.)

Guaha na mandagi yo', singko biåhe/ (I have lied, five times.)

Guaha na hu cho'gue i desonesto kontra guåho ha' na maisa, un biåhe. ( I have done unchaste acts against myself alone, one time.)

Guaha na umabali yo', un biåhe. (I have committed fornication/adultery, one time.)

Guaha na chumatfino' yo', dies biåhe. (I have cursed, ten times.)

Guaha na u egga' i ti kombiene ma egga', un biåhe. (I have watched something inappropriate for one to watch, one time.)

Guaha na hu sångan i prohimu-ho, dos biåhe. (I have spoken about/gossiped about my neighbor, two times.)

Hokkok ha' este, Påle', i isao-ho siha. (These are all my sins, Father.)

P : Kao mañotsot hao nu todo i isao-mo siha? (Do you repent of all your sins?)

K : Hunggan, Påle'. (Yes, Father.)

P : Sångan på'go i Fina'tinas Sinetsot. (Say now the Act of Contrition.)

K : Asaina Jesukristo, etc.

P : Ya na' susuha todo i isao-mo siha gi na'an i Tata.... (And I absolve you from all your sins, in the name of the Father....)

P : Sångan tres na Tatan-måme para todo i man malångo. (Say three Our Fathers for all the sick.)

Of course, there will be little differences here and there among penitents and priests, but this would be the general way someone confesses in Chamorro.

The older Chamorro would not move an inch at the end until the priest says again, "Åbe Maria purisima" and the penitent makes the usual response.


Desonesto = sounds like it should mean "dishonest," and it can mean that in Spanish, from which we borrowed the word. But in Chamorro it means impure, unchaste, indecent.

Abali = an old Chamorro word for any sexual impropriety.

Sotsot = another old Chamorro word meaning "regret." It is the root for mañotsot (to regret, repent) and sinetsot (regretful sorrow).

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