We invite you to the always engaging and often transformative international Maryknoll Affiliate Conference. It will be held June 25-28, 2020, at the Graymoor Spiritual Life Center in Garrison, NY – 17 miles north of the Maryknoll Center in Ossining. The theme is: Witnessing Love in the Interim Time. $350 covers tuition and room & board (a $20 reduction from the previous MAC!). Travel grants will be available as in past years.
The MAC 2020 Planning Committee has made great advances in designing the theme, content, and flow of this 3½ day event. The Keynote speaker is Nancy Sylvester, IHM, very sought after in the conference world, and most of the workshop facilitators have already been confirmed. We are also planning a first-time, unique segment to include young adults (18- to 39-year-olds).
A MAC website is being constructed; we anticipate that it should be ready in mid-September. It will provide an online registration form, travel grant application, schedule, and information you’ll need to know about the conference. Please mark the date and plan to be with Affiliates and other members of the Maryknoll family from throughout our global home.
On May 23, the North Bay Chapter hosted Vicki Simon, returned Maryknoll Lay Missioner to Kenya, to speak about her recent experience at the US – Mexico border.
Vicki spent two weeks volunteering in El Paso, Texas, at an Annunciation shelter in a La Quinta Inn. She told how she prepared for that experience by taking a Jesuit-sponsored five-day border immersion trip called The Encuentro Project. In addition, she took a Just Matters study module on migration, which brought home to her that migration is very extensive around the world even though we experience it mainly on the US - Mexico border.
We were captivated by her description of how the shelters are completely run and staffed by volunteers, how those two weeks were physically and emotionally demanding. She explained that between 50 and 120 asylum seekers would be referred to the shelter each day by ICE after having been processed as they came across the border. Generally, they were one parent and one or more children. When they arrived hungry, dirty, and often sick, they would be offered clean clothes, showers, meals , beds, and medical help. They would stay just long enough to have the volunteers contact their sponsor, who would buy a plane, bus or train ticket for them, and then the volunteers would accompany them to the airport or bus/train station. They were given provisions for the journey and a placard that said they didn’t speak English and asked for help finding their connections.
A couple years ago, my husband, David, and I were contacted by Maryknoll Lay Missioner Sam Stanton and his wife Cecelia Espinosa, to see if we could help her with a church date in northern Santa Barbara County while he covered a church farther south. We had a wonderful visit with Cecelia while offering not only bed and board, but also transportation to a couple different Masses.
We saw that Affiliates could be helpful to the Maryknoll Lay Missioners in their promotional efforts, and the Hospitality Initiative suggested to Ted Miles, current Executive Director of the Maryknoll Lay Missioners, that we may be able to offer Maryknoll Lay Missioners a place to sleep, possibly local transportation, and support at the churches where they are speaking. In late July, Ted shared the list of 2019 dates on which Lay Missioners will speak at churches to raise awareness and funds for all their mission needs. Offering this hospitality not only expresses our charism of welcoming, but it is a local short-term volunteer opportunity—a way to be of service to the Maryknoll Lay Missioners in their missionary efforts.
Please check the list of 2019 Church Dates and see if a Maryknoll Lay Missioner will be speaking near your home. Your hospitality will not only help further their efforts; you’ll probably make a lasting connection with a fellow missioner.
Father Bob Carleton, our Northeast Florida Affiliate Chapter Companion, met with us via Skype on May 9th. We had requested that he speak to us about the Church in China. Fr. Bob has been on the board of the US–China Catholic Association for many years and lived in China for three years teaching English. The Association’s website includes a video with a brief history of the Catholic Church in China and vividly describes the deep and continuing faith of the people. China was one of the first mission fields for Maryknoll priests, dating back to 1911.
Our group gathered around the dining room table in the home of Mary and Bryan Williams; we used Skype to see and hear Fr. Bob. He spoke to us from his room at the Maryknoll retirement home in Los Altos, CA. During his time teaching English in China, Fr. Bob taught a class on, “Who was Jesus Christ?” He did this as students might continue their studies or work in the West and should know about Christianity. However, he was not in China to make converts. We could tell that Fr. Bob remembered his students and his time in China with much fondness as he told us about his ongoing correspondence with some of his students from that time.
Rose Marie Berger, peace activist and member of the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative, wrote in Sojourners magazine, July 25, 2019 (https://sojo.net/articles/cross-human-bodies),
I spent five hours as a guest of the US Capitol Police last week. It was hot, really hot. And those plastic handcuffs leave bruises.
I was one of 71 Catholics arrested by the US Capitol Police in the rotunda of the Russell Senate building in Washington, DC, for “crowding, obstructing, or incommoding,” while praying the rosary. My prayer was—and is—to end the warehousing of immigrant children in cages—63,624 of whom have been apprehended by border patrol at the southwestern border between October 2018 and June 2019, and seven of whom have died after being in federal custody since September. More than a dozen Catholic orders and organizations sponsored the event. Seven Catholic bishops sent letters of support.
Dan Moriarty’s article for the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, “Building a Movement to End Child Detention,” tells of his and other religious leaders’ involvement, describing it as “a privilege to participate in civil disobedience, to be arrested, to stand with detained families…” Others from the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, the Westchester Affiliates, and other Maryknollers also participated. Pax Christi USA was one of the organizers and had distributed colorful flyers nationwide, that said,
Rose Marie closed her article with a challenge:
I spent five hours as a guest of the Capitol Police. Detained migrant children are spending five weeks or five months in Border Patrol camps. What increased risk will you take to say “no”?
As we struggle to make appropriate responses to the situations in our families, in our neighborhoods, and in the world, Cultivating Nonviolence offers alternatives. Affiliates are invited to learn more online and in person about nonviolence. The Cultivating Nonviolence program was developed for JustFaith in conjunction with Maryknoll and Pax Christi. It will help us to:
The eight-week October/November session consists of:
Each week we will share our thoughts and learnings through conference calls, emails, and Facebook.
We will read key sections of the engaging book, Personal Nonviolence, A Practical Spirituality for Peacemakers, by Gerhard A. Vandehaar. Copies can be ordered through Amazon, or we will email copies of short sections.
Maryknoll Affiliates have put their homes on the Maryknollers Hospitality List. The list catalogs Affiliate households that are available to offer hospitality for Maryknollers and Affiliates who are visiting a geographic area. To date, 28 Affiliate households have been listed.
The geographic areas covered are:
When Maryknollers request hospitality in a given area, they will contact Bob Short. Bob will assess the details of the request and then have the Affiliate member who is offering the hospitality contact the interested Maryknoller. In addition to the practical benefits of this hospitality, it provides an opportunity to get to know other members of the Maryknoll family.
We have begun a “Pope Francis Reading Club” in the New Orleans area to encourage Affiliates and as many people as possible to be in touch with the creative, visionary and challenging thinking of our wonderful Pope Francis. We will only occasionally read a book by the Pope. Most of the time we will read copies of recent talks, homilies or excerpts from interviews he has given.
A highly enthusiastic group of 20 people helped develop the plan for the reading club. We will meet once a month at the Archdiocesan Retreat Center (the Cenacle), in Metairie, LA, on Monday evenings from 5:30 PM to 7:00 PM. There is no fee but we may make an occasional small free-will offering for the use of the Cenacle, its copying machine, etc.
For the month of August we are asking members to read The Joy of the Gospel, written in 2013, in which Pope Francis gives his fundamental vision for the church and society and includes most if not all of the issues he will deal with in more depth during his following years as Pope. We will discuss The Joy of the Gospel Monday, August 26. Our September meeting will be Monday, September 30.
The text is also available at http://w2.vatican.va/content/vatican/it.html – translate to English; then search on “Evangelii Gaudium”.
We hope you will join us for what we believe will be a most fulfilling and enriching experience. If you don’t live in the New Orleans area and want to read along with the us you could email your comments or questions on the readings to Matt who might be able use them at their meeting.
During a wonderful supper prepared by Denise, and spurred on by John Moritz, we had a lively discussion about symbols. John had recently given a meditation on symbols at the Affiliate Board Meeting and they were still on his mind.
As the leader of the Northeast Florida Chapter, I enjoyed comparing notes with Chris Minnear, the co-leader of the Albany Chapter. We noted some differences between our groups. They have a large chapter of 30+ people and we are very happy if eight can make it to a meeting.
Despite the size difference, a lot of the challenges are the same. We both hope to have Chapter meetings where people can be revitalized and helped to grow. Albany often reads a book together and reviews it at a meeting. Northeast Florida has never read a book together; but our most avid reader, John Moritz, reports at each meeting about the newest Orbis-published books and we have an active lending library.
John and I thoroughly enjoyed both the hospitality of the Lessards and meeting Albany Affiliates. It is good to know that one of the new initiatives of the Affiliate Board is developing a database that will inform us about where there are Affiliates who are happy to host or otherwise connect not only with Maryknollers but also with other Affiliates. I applaud this initiative and am eager to see it developed.
I know our Northeast Florida Chapter will try hard to extend Maryknoll hospitality to any of you who come our way!
Participate in a border immersion experience: Learn about life at the Border in a 4-5 day immersion experience.
There are many other such programs offered throughout the US.
Volunteers: Volunteers who can stay two weeks or longer are needed. Spanish is helpful, but many jobs do not require Spanish. If you decide to apply, go in good health and well-rested as the days are intense and long. Log on to Annunciation House of Hospitality (https://annunciationhouse.org) for up-to-date information, the application process, and forms.
Financial donations: Financial donations are needed urgently, rather than specific items, so they can buy exactly what they need, responding to the changing needs of our guests. Make donations payable to Annunciation House and mail to 815 Myrtle Avenue, El Paso, TX 79901, or donate via their website.
Local opportunities: If you cannot travel or volunteer at this time, get involved locally in organizations working with recently arrived refugees and migrants.
Write and contact: Send letters to your state representatives. Send letters and post on social media, sharing what you know about Immigration matters and current anti-immigration bills.
Chapters, consider creating your own welcome statement for use
when inviting others to join you in actualizing your vision.*
We would like to let you know that you belong...
People of African, Asian, European, or First Nations descent, and people of mixed and multiple descents. We say, “You belong.”
People along the continuum of gender identity and expression: gay, bisexual, heterosexual, transgender, cisgender, or queer folks, and everyone for whom those labels don’t apply. We say, “You belong.”
Bodies with abilities and challenges, living with chronic medical conditions, visible or invisible, mental or physical. We say, “You belong.”
People who are activists and those who aren’t. Mystics, believers, seekers of all kinds. People of all ages. We say, “You belong.”
Your emotions: joy, fear, grief, contentment, disappointment, surprise, and all else that flows through you. We say, “You belong.”
Your families, genetic and otherwise. Those dear to us who have died. Our ancestors and the future ones. The ancestors who lived where these buildings are now . . . we honor you through this work that we are undertaking. We say,
People who feel broken, lost, struggling; who suffer from self-doubt and self-judgment. We say, “You belong.”
All beings that inhabit this earth, human or otherwise: the two-legged, the four-legged, winged and finned, those that walk, fly, and crawl, above the ground and below, in air and water. We say, “You belong.”
*This statement was adapted from “Diversity Welcome,” which is made available for download by Training for Change, along with a long list of other tools for workshops.
I joined the Affiliate Board in November of 2018. My chapter, Northeast Florida, was nurtured by Fr. Bob Carleton, MM; beginning our initial formation in 2009, we became a chapter in 2011. As the test case for the Affiliate Formation Program, we underwent an arduous nearly two years of reading, watching, discussing, and discerning. I was initially attracted to the Affiliates despite never having met a Maryknoller prior to our formation, though I generally knew of Maryknoll by their reputation for early mission efforts.
I have been involved in ministries for most of my adult life. I had attended a Cursillo retreat in 1975 and was active for about 25 years. After that, my wife, Mary and I have worked in marriage preparation ministry to this day. Early in my involvement, I was concerned that our ministry did not mirror that of most Affiliates, but I was greatly supported by Fr. Jim Madden, who shared my concern for marriage and assured me that what we were doing was completely consistent with being an Affiliate.
Upon becoming an Affiliate, I agreed to co-coordinate the Southeast region with Mary. We attended the 2011 MAC, which solidified my commitment to the Affiliates. As RCs, we have made varied and often not so successful attempts to spread the Affiliate message in our region. Also, as a survivor of the Affiliate Formation Program, I was asked to help revise the program to make it more appropriate for initial chapter use and for individual formation. Truthfully, despite some limitations, I thought the program was great!
I am willing to contribute what gifts I have to the Affiliate movement. I believe that we Affiliates have an opportunity to be a vital element of mission in the future. How this evolves is in process. I have never thought about myself as a board member type of person. When people start talking about amending the minutes of the last board meeting, my eyes glaze over, I see in black and white, and all the words become blah, blah, blah. Nevertheless, I look forward to participating in the servant leadership of the Maryknoll Affiliate Board.
Last Fall, as the new Affiliate Board Chair, I emphasized two characteristics of a successful movement—connection and communication. These are equally related to the Affiliate Board’s key responsibilities, namely:
It would be difficult to achieve these without connection and communication. Considering the nature and loose structure of the Affiliates, to be successful will require that both Affiliate leaders and members commit to dialogue. I can’t emphasize this enough!
As my personal commitment to this dialogue, I want to keep reaching out and connecting with Affiliates. All Affiliates and/or Chapters are invited to participate. If you are reading this, you are invited. Participation can be one-on-one conversations or connecting during a Chapter meeting. We can connect by phone or on the internet, via Zoom video conferencing or Skype. If okay, I’d like to expand this connection by inviting another Board member and/or Regional Coordinator to the call, as well.
To participate in this dialogue, please email me at
These conversations are just one way to enjoy mutual dialogue and engagement between leadership and the wider Affiliate movement. I hope you can join with me in this effort. Let’s have morning coffee or a nightcap together!
Rich Lessard, Affiliate Board Chair
The Maryknoll Affiliate Mission Statement includes the phrase,
“Maryknoll Affiliates challenge one another to witness to mission as a way of life by going beyond borders (italics added for emphasis)...,”
but this issue gives examples of Maryknollers and Affiliates not going beyond borders, but rather going to the southern US border and serving the great needs there.
Several articles show it is not even necessary to physically go to the border to make a difference. David Schaffner points out that shoelaces are such a simple item but are providing a tangible way to connect with those in need and also to educate the local community about the situation at the border! Affiliates in this issue also say their mission is in the community: teaching English to immigrants, offering hospitality to traveling Maryknollers, or joining a Campaign Nonviolence action. Santa Orlando points out the many ways the Albany Chapter maintains connections and is a catalyst and conduit of communication. She says Affiliates are called to Relationship.
Articles in this issue:
Staying Connected - "It was wonderful to have representatives from the Sisters and Fathers with us."—Santa Orlando
Meeting Maryknoll in St. Louis - "When we admired a symbol Debbie was wearing, she asked, “What is the symbol of the Maryknoll Affiliates?”—Mary Ryan-Hotchkiss
Boston Affiliate Working with Rotary - "The goal of the project was to change the practice of cooking with open fires on the floor, eliminating exposure to smoke and reducing health issues."—Jim Comes
More Excitement? - "A little preparation can lead to a lively meeting."—Matt Rousso
Maryknoll Lay Missioner/Lawyer - "Walls and detention centers are not the answer. Central America needs to be a place where people can stay if they want, with job opportunities, fair wages, and security."—Heidi Cerneka
Maryknoll Nuns at the Border - “God does not ask us to ask if people we help have all their immigration papers in order, or are they legally asking for asylum, before we feed, clothe and give them something to eat or give them shelter."—Sr. Maggie Sierra, MM
At the El Paso Migrant Refuge - "One of the best things about doing volunteer work is meeting other volunteers from different locations."—Don Gonzalez
The Shoelace Project - "Thus, the Humanitarian Respite Center operated by Catholic Charities in McAllen, Texas, and similar facilities along the border, need a constant supply of shoelaces."—David Schaffner
Learn more about your Maryknoll Affiliate Board and Executive Coordinator in these articles:
And be sure to enjoy the Features in this issue:
If you are more comfortable reading the Not So Far Afield in its print form, you may download a pdf of the July/August issue.