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.
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You may also download PDF versions of Not So Far Afield here.
Hitchhiking across the country in his twenties, Sebastian Unger, author of Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging, carried a tent, sleeping bag, cookpots and stove, and a week’s worth of food. As he waited on the highway, a dirty, wild-haired man walked up the ramp and studied him. “Where you headed?” he asked. “California.” “How much food you got?” Nervous and afraid of being robbed, Unger lied. “Oh, I just got a little cheese.” The man shook his head and said, “You need more than that to get to California.”
He said he lived in a broken-down car and every morning walked three miles to a coal mine to see if they needed fill-in work. This was one of the many days that they didn’t. “So, I won’t be needing this,” he said, opening his lunch box. “I saw you from town and just wanted to make sure you were okay.” With that he gave him a bologna sandwich, apple, and bag of chips, probably from a local church.
What kept Unger thinking about this all his life was not that the man had been generous; many people are. But that this fellow had walked half a mile out of his way to make sure he was okay. He had treated the hitchhiking stranger like a member of his tribe.
A minor victory cheered the more than 30 supporters attending William Gonzalez’s hearing at the Portland Courthouse this January. Some feared that the president’s removal of Temporary Protected Status for Salvadorans who came to the US decades ago might already be impacting people in our community.
William, a permanent resident, came to the US 38 years ago as a 12-year-old, with his mother who was granted asylum because of threats against her life in El Salvador. He has been harassed by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) since he applied for citizenship. In 2017, ICE required him to wear an ankle bracelet though he has not been a flight or security risk and has only had one DUI infraction since about 2001. William has worked 10-12 years as a cook at the famous Benson Hotel and has been involved in the union. He says the bracelet has to be recharged about every 8 hours, making it hard to get a full night’s sleep. Sometimes ICE can’t detect its signal from the basement kitchen where he works. When ICE can’t detect it, they can come to his house to question him.
William and his lawyers said the support of 40 letters and over 30 people at the hearing positively influenced the judge who ruled that the bracelet was to be removed and the harassing visits to William’s home to stop. William still had to pay a bond and further hearings will determine his immigration status.
People at the hearing were from The Immigrant Support Network, Interfaith Movement for Immigrant Justice (IMIrJ), ACLU, Havra Shalom Jewish congregation, Quakers, the Benson Hotel, and Unitarian and other churches. A representative from IMIrJ said it’s gratifying to see so many people at the hearing, but what is really needed is passage of compassionate Immigration Reform and the Real Dream Act.
Our fourth Book Group session will begin soon after Easter. We need your help to determine good times to meet and to select a book to read and discuss. The committee has come up with four possible titles:
• Faith in the Face of Empire
• A Sense of Wonder
• Thomas Berry, Selected Writings
• Flannery O’Connor, Spiritual Writings
If our telephone book group doesn’t work for you, an alternative is available. Robert Ellsberg, Orbis Books publisher, has recently announced:
For those who enjoy Orbis books, and look forward to the type of spiritual and theological engagement reflected in this month’s new titles, we invite you to join our new Orbis Book Club.
Next month we’ll be launching this new reading club on our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/orbisbooks), beginning with Jim Forest’s acclaimed work, At Play in the Lions’ Den: A Memoir and Biography of Daniel Berrigan.Members will receive a discount and an opportunity to interact with the author and other readers. Help us spread the word!
Most Maryknoll Affiliates know that our organization began in 1991 under the guidance of Fr. Jim Madden, MM, and Sr. Ellen McDonald, MM. However, members may not really know or fully appreciate how the founders’ vision for its growth and future influenced the formation of the Affiliates Movement.
On June 28, 2000, Mary J. Murphy, Westchester Chapter, conducted and taped an interview with Fr. Jim and Sr. Ellen at the Maryknoll Center in Ossining, New York. It provided a forum for them to discuss the Affiliate Movement from their unique perspective; they were specifically asked to discuss the concept behind its formation, their hopes/vision for the organization, and their reflections on the Affiliates’ development to that point. The interview was captured as a video entitled, “The Early Moments,” with Fr. Jim Madden and Sr. Ellen McDonald.
Our Albany Chapter first viewed this video in 2011 when we decided to review the history of the Affiliates Movement and the Four Pillars. Since 2011, we have added several new members, and so we decided to review the history and the pillars again. After much searching, we were able to find and to view the video at our January meeting; we were pleased by our members’ reactions. The general consensus was that this film is a valuable piece of Maryknoll Affiliate history, especially in light of the passing of Fr. Jim in 2014. Our members thought that the film was inspiring, moving, and heart-warming. The abounding joy, love, and enthusiasm of Fr. Jim and Sr. Ellen for the Affiliates and for the Maryknoll charism were so clearly evident as they spoke. We hope that other Chapters will consider viewing this important piece of our Maryknoll Affiliate history.
A few months ago, the Affiliate Board asked Chapters to consider our future--where do we want the Affiliates to be in five years? Where do you think that we will actually be in five years? Viewing this interview may be extremely helpful and valuable to us as we contemplate our responses to those questions. Knowledge of our past and of the vision of the founders may serve as a beacon to guide our future course, to keep us true to their ideals, to keep us from straying too far afield of their intentions and dreams.
I have been connected with Maryknoll in one form or other since my high school days: first, as a seminarian, then as an ordained missioner in Tanzania. After I left and married my wife, Jane, I continued my connection as an alumnus through the Maryknoll Joint Committee and ultimately in 1992 was part of the founding group of the Maryknoll Affiliate Chapter in Boston. The simple truth is I have always liked the people I find in Maryknoll—they tend to be inquisitive, reflective, positive, and serious about Gospel values, but with a sense of humor. I find these qualities in all the men and women in Maryknoll and throughout all the four entities. I am especially grateful for the way I was treated when I left the Society – namely, with respect and graciousness as well as genuine compassion and practical help. This was not the typical response of religious orders at that time to those leaving the priesthood.
When I was invited to join the Maryknoll Affiliates’ Board, I thought, how can I not? I was confident I would be working with extraordinary people with Gospel values at a unique time in history. So many people, younger and older, are struggling with institutional religion and yet becoming increasingly involved in justice and peace at home and abroad. I have found in the Maryknoll Affiliate movement a very practical and meaningful connection of spirituality, community, global vision, and actions for justice and peace. So why not pay it forward and challenge the present day fishermen of Galilee to: “Come and and see.”
At their April 2018 meeting, our Board will be discussing:
On Saturday of their weekend at Ossining, they will attend the NE Regional Conference (see page 2).
Once again, the Maryknoll Sisters are offering a full slate of pertinent workshops. Does one of these topics offered in May-June have your name on it? Register soon to obtain a space. (A limited number of tuition scholarships are available.)
In this issue we have tried to transmit what transpired in Guatemala at the 2017 Maryknoll Affiliate Conference (MAC)—Harmony, Unity, Love—all that Maryknoll is to us. We hope that the Pillars of the Affiliate Movement: Spirituality, Community, Global Vision, and Action, will be reinvigorated in you as you travel through this issue with the Affiliates who visited various mission sites of the Sisters, Fathers and Brothers, Lay Missioners, and Affiliates in Guatemala and El Salvador after the Conference. Mission has planted many seeds. So much is coming to fruition. So much remains to be done. We hope to share in a later issue our visits to the sites of the Salvadoran martyrs, recognizing what mission can demand.
Articles in this issue:
From the Board:
To read the print version of this issue, download the January/February 2018 Not So far Afield here.
Kitty sent her reflection as she and Roger were preparing to leave for Africa to attend the graduation of one of the children they have been helping with school since they were Maryknoll Lay Missioners in Tanzania.
Harmony seems like a stretch in these days of super egos and partisanship, but I saw it develop and flourish over the four days of the MAC 2017 in Guatemala. The deepest feeling I have about the conference is oneness. It wasn’t an invasion of North Americans telling Central Americans; it was complete sharing. The celebration of Mayan spirituality brought us together as a sharing in the cosmos. We arrived as individuals and left as one.
All the ceremonies/liturgies, group work and celebrations brought us together. Language was not a problem—there were words spoken in Spanish translated into English and English into Spanish but no need to translate the smiles and good will of all. Singing, dancing, walking, eating together blossomed into a unity of purpose and engendered a new Maryknoll Affiliate essence. At 25 years, we are still beginning.
We will aspire to “be of one heart”
...to be at peace, in harmony and in balance
with ourselves, with others, with Mother Earth, and with the Cosmos.
the oneness of all Maryknoll:
Lay Missioners, Fathers & Brothers, Sisters, and Affiliates.
At MAC 2017, 120 Maryknollers came together to reflect, analyze, and dream about the present moment and the future for Affiliates, for all of Maryknoll. Read the results (in Spanish or English) at http://afiliadosmaryknoll.wixsite.com/guate/post-mac-2017.
Here we are.
I am the corn
and you are the bean plant.
Your roots intertwine
we flourish together
in this field
that is life.
Originally published in Daniel Caño’s Spanish/Mayan/English book of
poetry, Savage Prayer. Reprinted with permission.
We are thankful for 2017’s many good memories: chapters hosting Maryknoll missioners, marching for the homeless in Los Angeles, working tirelessly for immigrant rights, and more.
Affiliates also gathered in Guatemala for MAC2017, our triennial international conference. The Capítulo de Afiliados Maryknoll of Guatemala superbly organized our first one held outside the US. The Affiliate Board appreciates their creativity and hard work in bringing a conference to us that will become a highlight of Affiliate history.
The various post-conference mission trips also deserve special mention: three in Guatemala and one in El Salvador, in which I participated. Fr. John Spain, MM, who lived through the years of the Salvadoran Civil War, brought history alive for us. We visited diverse and inspiring mission projects, particularly those of the Lay Missioners, who are led by Peter Altman, MKLM Regional Coordinator for El Salvador.
I had the good fortune to travel with three other Affiliates—Susan Porrovecchio, Jim Comes, and Gerry Mullaney—on our post-MAC tour to the Coatepeque region of Guatemala.
First, we spent time with Sister-Doctor Dee Smith, MM, and saw her tremendous accomplishments—finding and treating those diagnosed with HIV in and around Coatepeque. Most of those infected live in extreme poverty and also must deal with the stigma of this disease and rejection by their families. With a caring and dedicated staff, Sr. Dee has developed an outreach program to educate not only those in schools, but also families dealing with an infected family member.
Sr. Dee began the Santa Maria center in 2004, where attention is given to improving not only physical but also emotional care. They provide counseling, spiritual support, nutrition education, and physiotherapy as those inected continue their anti-retroviral treatment. Part of their holistic approach is to encourage the families to establish gardens with vegetables and healing herbs, as nutrition is key to strengthening immune systems. The center needs two new exercise bikes to help counter the various degrees of paralysis the disease can cause.
Then we were on our way to Catarina, San Marcos, to visit Sister-Doctors Jane Buellesbach and Mary Lou Daoust, MM, at their clinic where they see patients on Mondays. The rest of the week, they travel to 15 pueblos in rotation. They have a pharmacy and lab as well as a diabetic clinic which offers testing, treatment, and monitoring. While there, we also met a group of health promoters who were having a training session. They are educated by the sisters to diagnose through observation and treat common illnesses. They can dispense the basic medication the pharmacy provides.
Several of the outlying clinics are associated with fincas (large farms), where the workers, usually with several children, live in substandard housing and work under deplorable conditions, making about $7/day. Despite working long hours, they volunteer their time to staff the clinics one day a week. The sisters also have a vented woodstove project, as well as a water filtration project, where the families pay half and the Maryknoll Sisters pay the other half of the cost of home water filters. These projects help alleviate a variety of lung and parasite problems.
As with all mission trips, I discovered the connections that exist between all of us, and that even though we are many, we are one!
CONTRASIDA* was the mission of Maria Recinos and Irma Ventura de Ábrego years before they began attending the Maryknoll Affiliate gatherings. Dr. Mary Annel, MM, founded the CONTRASIDA Center in the 1990s in one of the poorer districts of San Salvador, El Salvador. Sr. Gloria Ardenio Agnes, MM, is now the only Maryknoll sister at the CONTRASIDA Center, but several other of the Salvadoran Maryknoll Affiliates also volunteer there. Affiliates and CONTRASIDA volunteers Norma Araujo de Orellana and Luis are in the photo. Affiliate Irma, not pictured, said she had worked with Sr. Mary (who only recently returned to the US due to illness) at CONTRASIDA for 13 years.
Sister. Mary initially wanted to elevate the dignity of the AIDS patients, to prepare them to die, but now the center prepares the patients to live fully. Their 170 patients range in age from 2 to 74 years. After receiving retrovirals, one patient has now survived 22 years.
Following MAC 2017, 11 of us journeyed via the Pan American Highway into the western mountains of Guatemala. Our trip took us first to the beautiful volcanic area of Lake Atitlan and the towns around the lake, where one of our guides, Sr. Bernice Kita, MM, spent many years in pastoral ministry. We traveled by water taxi from San Antonio Palopó across the lake to the town of Santiago Atitlan, where we saw the location of Fr. Stanley Rother’s martyrdom, and, perhaps more poignantly, the massacre of many indigenous peoples with whom he lived in solidarity. This was a prayerful and meditative time for all of us. Because of her close association with Fr. Stan, Sr. Bernice made this experience come alive for us.
Then we visited the mission site of our second guide, Maryknoll Affiliate Steve Barrett. in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala’s second largest city. There, street children who work in the marketplace from a young age are provided with onsite learning opportunities that complement rather than conflict with their necessary work time. This ecumenical effort offers fundamental educational opportunities as well as vocational training, within an incredibly holistic approach to becoming a fulfilled human.