HISTORY AND LEGEND COMBINE TO STRENGTHEN OUR DEVOTION TO ST. JOSEPH
Spanish governor Joseph de Quiroga established Inalahan as a village parish in 1680. That year marked 30 years of sporadic battles between groups of Chamorros and the Spanish garrison, which had greatly reduced the population and demoralized the people. There was a typhoon in November 1680 that destroyed most of the homes in Guam. He reorganized the island into six centers: Inapsan, Pago, Hagat, Malesso, Umatac, and Inalahan. Governor Quiroga laid out the 5-block grid of streets in Inalahan as they exist today.
Also a church was begun at Narajan (Inarajan), in which village many were assembled from the southern part of the island, as well as people from the settlements in the hills and on the beaches. This church was dedicated to Saint Joseph, Spouse of the Virgin Mary.” (Garcia, F., S. J. ( 1994). Life and martyrdom of the venerable Father Diego Luis De SanVitores. MARC Monograph #3: p. 500)
Into this mix Governor Quiroga added people captured from the northern Mariana Islands, called the Gani islands, in 1699. He encouraged retired Spanish soldiers to settle in Inalahan by offering them land. (Hezel, 1989, From Conquest to Colonization: Spain in the Mariana Islands 1690 to1740. Saipan: Division of Historic Preservation. p. 13).
The first church was wooden, with a thatched roof, which was dedicated by the Jesuit missionaries to San Jose, Esposo de la Virgin Maria. It was burned right after it was built during a Chamorro uprising. Another church was immediately rebuilt by the faithful of the area. This second church was destroyed by a typhoon in 1693 and rebuilt again. By 1769 there was a stone-and-mortar church with a palm thatch roof (Haynes, and Wuerch. 1993. Historical survey of the Spanish Mission Sites on Guam 1669 – 1800, 2nd Ed. MARC Educational Series no. 9. p. 17-20). The gothic-style church of today, designed by Father Bernabe de Caseda and built by the villagers under his leadership between 1937 and 1940, replaced the previous church buildings on this spot.
Oral histories collected by Mr. Bill M. Paulino and Edward M. Crisostomo of Inalahan tell of a persisting legend of the arrival of the St. Joseph statue to the parish. According to the narrations, the statue was brought by canoe from Hagatña. Sailing down the western side of the island, they first tried to land in Fu’uña, but the sea was too rough. They proceeded to Umatac unsuccessfully and then Malesso and found the waves too high. When they reached Inalahan Bay, the sea was calm, and thus Saint Joseph was meant to become the patron saint of Inalahan.
St. Joseph embodies the cultural values still practiced in our village of Inalahan today. Central to these values is the family – I familia, which nurtures and sustains its members just as St. Joseph did as husband of Mary and guardian father of Jesus. These values reach out to our community as families work together and for their faith in the spirit of inafa’maolek – working for the well-being of everyone.
Thanks to the inspiration and encouragement of Father Joseph Anore, we plan to continue this reenactment as part of our annual St. Joseph Fiesta celebrations each year, so that future generations will enjoy this precious history.
(Judy attended the Re-enactment of 1680 St. Joseph's arrival into Inarajan Village.
This event is preserved in the Oral History of Guam.)