Not So Far Afield is a bimonthly publication of the Maryknoll Affiliates. The name is a play on the title of the original Maryknoll Magazine: The Field Afar.
You may subscribe to Not So Far Afield by email or to be notified when it is posted on our website.
You may also download PDF versions of Not So Far Afield here.
Action is one of the pillars of the Affiliate Movement, along with spirituality, community, and global vision. We can count on Affiliates to respond to opportunities and to find ways to take action, to be of service. In this issue, Bob Doyle shares his odyssey in Arizona, mourning the deaths of migrants in the desert and serving the survivors. The North Bay Affiliates were captivated by returned Maryknoll Lay Missioner Vicki Simon’s reflections after she volunteered at a migrant refuge in El Paso.
Vicki also lists some opportunities for service to immigrants. Dick Horstman describes a short-term mission opportunity for aiding migrants in Eagle Pass, Texas.
While we Affiliates are usually eager to do service, this issue also tells of 71 Catholics who recently chose another path, civil disobedience at the US Capitol, to protest the inhumanity of detaining children at the Border. Maryknoll encourages us to contemplate before and during our actions.
Whether we choose service, peaceful contemplation, or civil disobedience, we know that “Apathy is not an option.”
Articles in this issue:
Migration in the Nogales-Tucson Area – "While asylum seekers are being assisted at shelters in Tucson, some 800 others in Nogales, Sonora, are waiting to present their credible fear claim in hopes of being allowed to seek asylum in the United States." - Bob Doyle
MAC 2020 – The theme is: Witnessing Love in the Interim Time.
Vicki Simon at the Border – "One had to be ready for a “fluid reality,” as Vicki described it, and try to hold onto paying personal attention and listening to each migrant while attending to their immediate needs..." – Marie Wren
Sharing with our Chapter Companion – "Our Affiliate group was also happy to learn of Maryknoll’s program which sponsors men and women to come to the United States to study for the religious life." – Shelby Miller & Mary Williams
Is a Lay Missioner Coming to Your City? – "We saw that Affiliates could be helpful to the Maryknoll Lay Missioners in their promotional efforts..." – Paula Schaffner
Catholics Protest Immigrant Child Detention – It was “a privilege to participate in civil disobedience, to be arrested, to stand with detained families…” – Dan Moriarty
A Visit with Albany Affiliates – "I know our Northeast Florida Chapter will try hard to extend Maryknoll hospitality to any of you who come our way!" – Mary Moritz
Border Actions to Consider – "If you cannot travel or volunteer at this time, get involved "in organizations working with recently arrived refugees and migrants." – Vicki Simon
Hospitality – In addition to the practical benefits of this hospitality, it provides an opportunity to get to know other members of the Maryknoll family.
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 September/October issue.
The Benedictine Sisters of Boerne have a mission house in Eagle Pass, Texas, across the Rio Grande from Piedras Negras, Mexico. Sister Ursula Herrera is the only Sister at the house. Last December, the Sisters converted the house to a migrant respite shelter.
The migrants are delivered to the house around 7:00 in the evening. Sister feeds them dinner, gives them a change of clothes, and they sleep one night at the house. Sister feeds them breakfast the next morning, and they are then picked up at 9:00 AM to travel to San Antonio. Sister needs help cooking, washing bedding, making beds, cleaning and sorting clothes, buying groceries, etc. She averages approximately 28 migrants a night.
Sister does not have room for a group of volunteers. She has a very nice apartment with a full bath in a detached garage for two volunteers. It is an ideal setup for a couple.
Some chapters already had a special relationship with a Maryknoll Priest, Brother, Sister, or Lay Missioner when the Chapter Companions Initiative began. Others have requested a companion and are now enjoying getting to know their Maryknoll missioner.
This Question of the Month (QTM) was suggested by Tom McGuire, Chicago Chapter.
To answer this question, go to QTM #5.
If you haven’t seen the Affiliates’ answers to the previous Questions of the Month, you’ll also find a link to them on that page.
We look forward to hearing your views on this and future Questions of The Month.
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, the copy 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 online: "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.
A pilgrimage in the desert. The desert should not be a death sentence, but the government knows the southwestern border is dangerous for migrants—and wants it that way. Some 8,000 people attempting to enter the United States have died in this region since the 1990s.
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.
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!