November 19, 2005

Missionary's Dark Legacy

ST. MICHAEL (AK)
KTLA

By William Lobdell
Times Staff Writer

November 19, 2005

ST. MICHAEL, Alaska Peter "Packy" Kobuk has to walk past the old Catholic church to get almost anywhere. To fill a drum of heating oil. To take his children to school. To wash his clothes at the only laundromat in this Eskimo village of 370.

"I think about burning it down, but I have to block that out," says Kobuk, 46. "It all comes back to me right away each time I have to see it."

The decaying wood-frame building also haunts John Lockwood, a married father of nine. Its bell tower, which rises above the village's 90 plywood shacks and prefabricated houses, is one of the first landmarks he sees when returning home in a longboat from hunting seals in the Bering Sea.

"It brings back a lot," says Lockwood, whose weathered face reflects a life spent in the Alaska outdoors. "He did all those bad things to us little kids there, and no one did nothing to stop it."

Even after 30 years, the men can't shake their memories of the late Joseph Lundowski, a volunteer Catholic missionary who arrived in their village in 1968.

Posted by kshaw at November 19, 2005 07:05 AM