During the three years that the Japanese forces occupied Guam during World War II there remained one Chamorro priest who was determined to fight for the rights of the people. Father Jesus Baza Dueñas was born in Agaña in 1914. He attended elementary school on Guam and then departed to the Philippines where he studied for the priesthood. Father Dueñas returned to Guam in 1938 where he was ordained by Bishop Olano. He was the second Chamorro priest ever to be ordained. The first, Monsignor Jose Palomo, had died in 1919. Father Dueñas was assigned to St. Joseph's Church in Inarajan. The people of the southern villages adored him for his kindness.
The Japanese troops, after their invasion in 1941, recognized his status among the people. His independence was visible and they felt the need to watch him. Father Dueñas would often tell the people not to obey the Japanese. He and Father Calvo (ordained in 1941) would meet with the Japanese Government and request food for the women, children and elderly. When Bishop Olano was to be moved for detention in Japan, he appointed Father Dueñas as Pro-Vicar of the Vicariate. This put him in charge of all the affairs of the Church in Guam throughout the Japanese Occupation.
Throughout the occupation, Father Dueñas remained a problem for the Japanese officials. They wanted to exile him to Rota, but did not for fear that their relationship with the people would be hurt by banishing their priest.
Also during this time the American sailor George Tweed was hiding. The Japanese felt that Father Dueñas knew of his whereabouts so they often interrogated him and tortured him. On July 8, 1944, the Japanese police went to Inarajan and arrested Father Dueñas and his nephew, Attorney Edwardo Dueñas, for not informing them about Tweed's whereabouts. They were interrogated and tortured. After three days of torture, Father Dueñas was offered a possible chance to escape. He refused, telling the men who hoped to aid him, "You must know what would happen to our families if we escape. I'm positive the Japanese will retaliate against them. Go look after you families. God will look after me. I have done no wrong."
In the late hours of July 11, the police gave up and put Father Dueñas and his nephew in the hands of the Kaikuntai--the execution squad. Father and his nephew were taken to Tai in Chalan Pago. Minutes before sunrise, Father Jesus Baza Dueñas was beheaded. He was 30 years old.
Father Dueñas' remains were later located and reburied beneath the sanctuary floor of the San Jose Church in Inarajan. A bronze tablet marks his resting place at his beloved church. Also recovered at his exhumation were his spectacles, pieces of the rope used to bind his hands, and pieces of his belt and locks of his hair. A crucifix believed to have been found during his exhumation, was recently returned to Archbishop Anthony S. Apuron OFM Cap. D.D. by U.S. military personnel who had retrieved it and kept it for over 54 years!
In 1948, four years after Father Dueñas' martyrdom, the Father Dueñas Memorial School was established in Tai, Mangilao in his honor. FDMS opened on October 1, 1949 as a school for young men and a minor seminary. The school is built near the site of Father Dueñas' beheading and burial. On July 7, 1970, the late Governor Carlos G. Camacho issued government Proclamation 70-24 designating July 12 as "Father Dueñas Day."