The Korea Affiliates held their monthly meeting on April 7, 2018, at the Maryknoll Sisters’ residence in Seoul. Fifteen members, including two newcomers, spent the afternoon sharing on their personal lives and actions since the last meeting a month ago. Russ Feldmeier attended and presided at Mass.
The questions below were used as a framework for the sharing:
They had a wide-ranging discussion. One person talked about the need to listen to the people we serve. He works with youth at Sogang University, a Jesuit University in Seoul, and facilitates pilgrimages and other programs. Others spoke of the value of the Maryknoll family and the way Maryknoll missioners in Korea influenced them. In general, they talked about the value of the Affiliate chapter where we can all meet and which helps us to grow. Since this was right after Easter, they talked about the Paschal Mystery of new life even through suffering.
The hot issue for the day was the #MeToo movement, which has had a powerful impact in Korea recently. It has been an opportunity for Koreans to deal with the patriarchal aspect of Korean society, and a number of the Affiliates shared on the impact it has been having on their own lives and on the society at large.
There was a great deal of energy at the meeting, and the sharing was rich.
A friend asked Bertha, a Maryknoll Lay Missioner in Tanzania for many years, how Tanzanians interpret the Good Samaritan story. Seeing her answer as relevant to all in mission, she shares her thoughts with us.
It is an immense challenge for missioners to respond appropriately to cultures that we don’t fully understand or appreciate. This challenge is acute for short-term missioners but affects all. I was particularly sensitive to the priests who had served in Tanzania for decades but who had derived their understanding of the culture from men.
This question evoked many memories for me. The interpretation that to Tanzanians, “my neighbor is whoever helps me,” rather than “whoever needs help,” is understandable. Colonial experience impressed on Tanzanians the self-image of helplessness, neediness, and dependence on foreigners. Though they spontaneously reach out to each other without even thinking about it, there’s a difference between how Tanzanians relate to each other and how they view themselves in relation to the rest of the world.
My Good Samaritan story: Just after an RCIA class focusing on the Good Samaritan parable, my class and I encountered an old woman passed out in a drunken stupor on the street outside the church. Having just pondered the parable, we couldn’t rightly just pass by. Because everyone else knew the woman and her history, passersby just laughed and went on their way. The Tanzanian catechist offered no solution to the situation. So, several of my young adult students stayed with her while I walked the five blocks to my home to get my car. On my return, the students lifted the lady into my car. I drove to the trail that led up to her home and the students carried her up the steep hill to her home.
I don’t recall that we discussed this encounter during our next class, but I still distinctly remember the event. Had I not been the class facilitator, I fear I would have joined the passersby and gone on home without intervening. I still worry that by getting my car, I again taught that Tanzanians are dependent on outside help, that they are excused from helping.
What do you think a missioner should do in this situation?
Wherever two or three are gathered...
The Los Angeles Religious Education Congress in Anaheim is a unique annual gathering of 30,000 enthusiastic Catholics, including Maryknollers. Weeks in advance, Hugh Menton, Regional Coordinator for California chapters, invited other Affiliates to join the Los Angeles Maryknoll Affiliates at the Maryknoll booth and have lunch together on Saturday of the Congress.
Tim Moffett and Kathee Bautista from the LA Chapter visited at the booth. The last issue the NSFA reported on their lunch meeting in Los Angeles with Daniel Caño, Mayan Spiritual guide at the 2017 MAC in Guatemala. Kathee updated us that her daughter, Kimberly Bautista, a film maker and activist who has done significant work in Central America and the US, met Daniel at that meeting. When Kimberly recently traveled to Chiapas, Mexico, she and a friend continued to Guatemala and met again with Daniel, this time in his village, further exploring their mutual interest in indigenous spirituality. As we learned at the 2017 MAC, we are all connected, and the impact of our actions can be widespread.
Outside the conference hall, we talked with people who were in the rally for the abolition of the death penalty organized by Pax Christi.
Bob addresses the Hurricane Harvey floods, ongoing mission trips, and volunteering at Casa Juan Diego. Some Houston Affiliates are doing other mission work, too.
Dick Horstman, Ruth, and I are working with a local parish along with Catholic Charities and the Archdiocesan Mission Council to assist in rebuilding flooded houses near Angleton, south of Houston. So far, the families most in need—the poorest of the poor—have been identified, and the diocese has given us permission to use a six-bedroom house to accommodate incoming mission groups. This house, previously owned by the Basilian Fathers, who have turned their parishes over to the archdiocese, will now be a place for volunteers coming from around the state and country. Eight months later, many houses are still not livable, mostly because the people don’t have the money to buy materials. Catholic Charities has some funds available, and we are working with them to get the money to home owners.
Dick Horstman, a newer Affiliate, is in contact with Louise Zwick, co-founder of Casa Juan Diego* (CJD) with her husband, Mark, who passed away in 2016. He is arranging to have a high school group replace a roof on one of the men’s houses. Louise seems to never change, but she misses Mark very much. She says that he usually made the “big decisions,” so she continually asks him for help to carry on and make the right choices. She has been blessed with some longer-term volunteers and that has helped a lot.
Dick and his parish still go on missions to Eagle Pass, Texas, as are groups from four local Catholic high schools. The high schoolers do a lot of home repairs, including roof replacements. Fr. Gerry Kelly, MM, goes on most of these missions and also on mission trips with the various medical missions to Honduras, south Texas, and Costa Rica.
I volunteer each Wednesday to “run the sandwich route” at Casa Juan Diego. Our parish makes about 75 sandwiches three times a week for delivery to CJD, which are distributed to the migrant workers on street corners waiting for work. Along with those men, we usually find a few groups of homeless people who always welcome a sandwich and fresh fruit and a bottle of water.
*For more about CJD, see July/August, 2017 NSFA, "If We Had Any Guts, ..."
New Orleans area Affiliates (Gulf South Chapter) bring to life the Maryknoll charisms of hospitality, spirituality, mission accompaniment, global vision, social justice, as well as compassion, mercy, and acceptance. Ten Affiliates gathered on short notice at Matt and Janet Rousso’s home to visit with the Hotchkisses this April.
Even Affiliates who were not able to join us were emphatic in their support of social justice. Ben Gordon sent an email that he was attending a meeting addressing the incursion of tourist facilities into his working-class neighborhood. Another Affiliate was on her way to participate in the People’s March in Memphis commemorating the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King.
When I was first invited to go on a Maryknoll Affiliate mission immersion trip, I thought, “What gifts do I have to bring to this experience?” As I began to understand that it was an accompaniment journey to Guatemala, I felt better about my lack of skills and the fact that I did not speak Spanish. We had an amazing experience of ‘being with’ the people we met and spent time with. A part of my heart is still in Guatemala, and even before leaving, I knew that my world view had forever changed. I would never again look at anything global in the same way.
I carried the experience of the immersion mission around with me in my heart and soul. Talking with people who I knew would ‘get it’ helped, but I also knew that I was called to do something else—but I wasn’t sure what that was yet. It would take another two trips to Guatemala before it became apparent.
For our March meeting, Seattle Affiliates attended the Second Annual Immigration Summit, held at Seattle University on March 10, as a way to find a project we could do together. We provided a table where we exhibited Maryknoll information and talked with attendees.
The Immigration Summit
Fr. Steve Sundborg, SJ, President of Seattle University, gave us a warm welcome, followed by keynote speaker Catherine Punsalan-Manlimos, PhD, from Seattle University. She referred to Exodus 22:21, when Yahweh told the Jews to treat the foreigner well, remembering that they were once foreigners in Egypt. She then talked about memory and making the past present. How we treat others is how we are judged. What does God see? A quarter of a billion people are on the move and marginalized today. Dr. Catherine said that we sometimes use legality, merit, and fairness to hide our fear and defensiveness in dealing with strangers, even in the church.
For the last couple years, a small team has been working with me to develop “Quo Vadis—the Next Step,” a program that helps returnees from cross-cultural experiences process and carry forward their new connection to others. Now we need your help.
“Put away your sword,” Jesus told him. “Those who use the sword will die by the sword.”
Students at Parkland, Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School experienced the truth of this biblical statement. Survivors of the mass shooting that killed their classmates see the American culture swimming in the use of modern swords—guns, weapons of war, and violent entertainment—and are saying, “Enough!”
What did we do after Columbine happened, or after the little children died at Sandy Hook? Now the high school students from Parkland are saying, “Enough!” This time, more of us are joining our voices to theirs.
In Tucson, we joined an estimated 10,000 people carrying homemade signs and saying, “Enough!” in the March for Our Lives. Tucson and Arizona are not typically considered liberal areas, but the March demanded tightening of gun controls. We were there on March 24, voting with our bodies and energy and homemade signs. We were saying there is enough evidence that the American obsession with guns and violence is killing us and must finally be addressed.
The Presencing Institute has just begun a new series that may interest Affiliates: “Transforming Capitalism.”
Several years ago, a group of Affiliates, along with 25,000 people around the world, participated in the Institute’s on-line course, “U Theory,” discussing the process of developing emerging ideas. Now they are offering the free “Transforming Capitalism Lab”:
For the next 18 months, we’ll host monthly live sessions, share some of the most inspiring stories from around the world, and equip you with methods and tools that will help you turn your own emerging ideas into action.
The first live session aired on April 12th from 10am -11am EDT, but materials from this session are still available.
For details, go to https://www.presencing.org/#/transforming-capitalism-lab/stories.
The Book of Joy—Lasting Happiness in a Changing World,
by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, with Douglas Abrams,
On a recent “Landmark Birthday,” perhaps better characterized as a “Pre-Tombstone Birthday,” a good friend gifted me a copy of The Book of Joy. This book is the result of a week of conversations between the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu at his Holiness’s home in Dharamsala, India, where he has lived since his escape from Tibet in March of 1959. Author Douglas Abrams has worked with Archbishop Tutu on other projects and does a masterful job of providing a framework of directed conversations over a five-day period.
Along with an introduction that highlights the great friendship and compatibility of these two major figures from different religious traditions, the book is divided into two major sections: “The Obstacles to Joy” and “The Eight Pillars of Joy.” As a sampling of the book’s content, the “Obstacle” section has chapters titled “Sadness and Grief: The Hard Times Knit Us More Closely Together,” and “Envy: That Guy Goes Past Us Yet Again in His Mercedes-Benz.”
I won’t give away all of the Eight Pillars, but one chapter is on Humor. Listen to the mischievous banter of these two ultimate jokesters.
The Archbishop pretended to scold him: “Are you listening?”
The Dalai Lama, who had missed the Archbishop’s comment, launched in with, “So that shows, really…”
The Archbishop continued to pretend that he was offended. “You see? He’s not listening.”
“Unless you use the stick, I will not listen,” the Dalai Lama said laughing.
“But I thought you were nonviolent!”
A strength of this book is how Abrams weaves writings of philosophers, theologians, and scientific researchers into the dialogue between his Holiness and the Archbishop. For example, from a psychologist, “Grief is the reminder of the depth of our love.” In one of the eight pillar chapters, one on Gratitude, research by UC Davis professors found that “…grateful people do not seem to ignore or deny the negative aspects of life; they simply choose to appreciate what is positive as well.” “People with a strong disposition toward gratitude have the capacity to be empathic and take the perspective of others. They are rated as more generous and more helpful by people in their social networks.”
The last chapter is titled “Joy Practices” and is bookended with practices that Tibetan Buddhist monks typically do at the beginning and end of each day. Other approaches to meditation and mindfulness are provided in this rather extensive chapter of over 40 pages. As I reviewed the book for this article, it became obvious that I need to re-read it a little at a time so that the fullness of the wisdom of these two remarkable individuals can soak in.
Before his illness, [Affiliate] Bob would often go sit in the Motherhouse Chapel in the afternoon. Sometimes he’d write on small slips of paper he carried in his pocket. Here are some of his jottings.—Liz Maxwell
I am no more, no less in the presence of God in chapel, but senses and emotions are involved in feeling myself to be in the presence, and yet God does not hear me any better in chapel.
It is good to sit in Mystery.
The mist stops our brains.
God help me to fully be, the doing will follow.
Once again, the Maryknoll Sisters are offering a full slate of pertinent workshops. Register soon to obtain a space. (A limited number of tuition scholarships are available.) Coming in May and June:
* May 6-10 (four-day program) - Mariette Danilo, PhD
Navigating Life’s Transitions: Resilience and the Pilgrims’ Journey
* May 13-18 - Alice L. Camille, M.Div and Rev. Paul Boudreau
Future Dreaming: 21st Century Possibilities for Christian Living
* June 3-8 - Yehezkel Landau, D. Min
Spiritual Resources for Interfaith Peacemaking
* June 10-15 - Janice McLaughlin, MM, PhD
Under the Baobab Tree: Spirituality Nourished by Nature
* June 17-22 - Nancy Sylvester, IHM, MA
Facing into Chaos: Deepening Communal Contemplation, Transforming Consciousness
* June 24-29 Anthony Gittins, CSSp, PhD
Mission, Margins and Intercultural Living
See the July-August topics at https://maryknollsisters.org/maryknoll-mission-institute-2/.
I first got to know the Affiliates when I was doing formation work in Chicago (1990-94) and was asked to join the founding Affiliate Board to help with the beginnings of the Affiliate Movement. It was a time of great excitement as this new Expression of Maryknoll came into being.
To share a bit about my background, I was born in Boston, raised in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, and spent many of my early years in St. Paul, Minnesota. I joined the Peace Corps after college and graduate school, and as a volunteer and staff member in Korea, I got to know Maryknoll Missioners there. I joined Maryknoll in 1975 and after ordination in 1980, I was sent back to Korea on mission.
I am now a member of several Affiliate Chapters. Presently I live in Chicago and attend the Chicago Affiliate meetings. I also attend the meetings of the Contemplative Affiliate Group and the Kenya Affiliate Chapter, both of which meet virtually using Skype. And I have been connected with the Korea Affiliate Chapter for years, so that when I visit Korea, I attend their chapter meetings. In addition, I am the Society General Council member who relates to the Affiliates, and therefore I am again on the Affiliate Board.