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'A saint slept in this place overnight'

Guam group seeking to raise more funds to complete the purchase of chancery

Phoenix Foundation has offered to buy the chancery compound is Hagatna. Photo courtesy of PNC

By Mar-Vic Cagurangan A local Catholic group that has offered to acquire a church-owned prime property in Hagatna is accelerating its fundraising efforts amid a looming deadline to seal the transaction. The Phoenix Foundation has proposed to purchase the historic chancery compound, which was graced by the presence of a saint 42 years ago.

The San Ramon Hill real estate is among the properties listed for sale by the Archdiocese of Agana to cover its settlement with survivors of clergy abuse. The $2.3 million property is home to the archbishop and the church’s chancery offices. On Feb.22, 1981, Pope John Paul II stayed at the chancery during his two-day historic visit to Guam.

Pope John Paul II was greeted by thousands of residents during his trip to Guam in 1981. Photo courtesy of The Guam Museum

“The organization’s intent of purchasing the chancery grounds is to allow the work of the archdiocese to continue at the site,” said former Gov. Eddie Calvo, the foundation’s chair.

Calvo's father, Paul Calvo, was the governor of Guam when the pope came to the island as part of his Asian tour.

The bankruptcy court has approved the group’s offer.

“However, we urgently need the help of Catholics and everyone in the community to complete this vital mission," Calvo said.

He said the foundation has so far raised close to $1.8 million, which included a bridge loan of $1 million from an unnamed group that offered “generous terms” to help in facilitating the purchase.

“When the purchase is completed, the foundation will be in a good position to pay off the loan through conventional bank financing,” Calvo said.

However, he added, the organization is still short $500,000 to cement the deal before the Oct. 17 deadline set by the bankruptcy court.


The chancery is the heart of the archdiocese’s administrative functions including the marriage tribunal, safe environment office, Catholic schools, archives, finances and communications among others.

“We are indebted to the members of the Phoenix Foundation for the tremendous initiative they have taken to rescue the chancery offices and home of the archbishop,” said Father Romeo Convocar, apostolic administrator.

The chancery campus is one of the properties the archdiocese had to sacrifice as part of the Chapter 11 reorganization that bound the church to court-ordered obligations resulting from a decade-old class action.

Nearly 280 individuals have sued the church, alleging they were raped and molested by priests and other members of the clergy from the 1950s to as late as 2013.

The settlement amount for claimants ranged from $34 million to $45 million, but church officials said the final amount would depend on the actual sum that the sale of respective archdiocese properties would bring in.


The Phoenix Foundation has launched an urgent charitable drive requesting contributions from “all who recognize the special significance of the chancery compound,” which is “much revered because of its special landmark as the place where Saint John Paul the Great slept overnight during his historic visit to Guam in February of 1981.”

“The unique distinction of the chancery as a place where a saint visited, rested and slept overnight is one of the main reasons for preserving the site,” Convocar said.

“Because of the monumental spiritual, historical and cultural significance of the saint’s visit and the chancery site, this group of Catholics was moved to form the Phoenix Foundation in order to preserve the temporary home of a saint from dissolution through bankruptcy,” the archdiocese said.

Pope John Paul II, who died on April 2, 2005, was beatified in St. Peter's Square on May 1, 2011 by Pope Benedict XVI, and canonized on April 27, 2014 by Pope Francis. His feast day is Oct. 22.

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