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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Sábado, 29 Junio 2019 16:31

Poetic Response  to Contemplative Action

Written by

Bill Murphy – Maryknoll Affiliate Board

It was my turn to prepare a “State of the Heart” report at the conclusion of the May 3-5, 2019 meeting of the Maryknoll Affiliate Board. The meeting’s central theme was contemplative action, and my response to what I heard and experienced took the form of the poem below.

Fracking the Heart

How do I turn my heart of stone into a heart of flesh?

I used to think the waters of baptism were sufficient:

Gentle, flowing waters can soothe but rarely awaken;

Still waters warm and calm but hardly get me moving.

Maybe knowledge was the answer?

Theology or the facts and figures of science and computers 

Would guide me to a meaningful life and best solutions.

 

Slow down

Sit with the darkness; it becomes light

Listen in the silence

Share stories of life:

accompanying gospels of struggles, pains, joys -

compassion for ourselves as well as others

breaks open my heart.

Don’t just move, stand there

Then

move in the direction that beckons me.

 

Sábado, 29 Junio 2019 16:17

Maryknoll Nuns at the Border

Written by

Mary and Manny Hotchkiss – Portland Chapter

Maryknollers, including Affiliates, have been attending to the needs of migrants at the US-Mexico border. (Affiliates have written about helping at McAllen, TX, and on page 8, Don Gonzalez tells about El Paso.) Sr. Lil Mattingly, MM, responded graciously to our email when we arrived in El Paso in April. She arranged for us to meet the Maryknoll sisters working at the US Border near El Paso and hear their stories. Sr. Lil and Sr. Maggie Sierra are both working with immigrants in El Paso. Sr. Susan Nchubiri, MM, who is based at Maryknoll, NY, is working with them for a month responding to the massive increase in refugees from Central and South America.

Sábado, 29 Junio 2019 16:09

At the El Paso Migrant Refuge

Written by

Don Gonzalez – Hawaii Chapter

Last November I volunteered at the refugee center located within the grounds of the Diocese of El Paso. It is a good-sized room with its own kitchen and eating facility. The bishop of El Paso and seminarians reside nearby, and most volunteers stay in the seminarians’ sleeping quarters, where they are comfortable and have a regular bed unless there is a lack of space; then volunteers might sleep on a cot.

Volunteers learn how to perform a number of functions, then do what is requested as needed.

Sábado, 29 Junio 2019 16:04

Deepen Our Compassion, O God

Written by

By Heidi Cerneka

Deepen our compassion, O God.
You are the judge, not us.

Our sister left behind home, family, culture, language
When she fled to protect her life,
     her children, their future,
As greed and power ravaged her nation.

Our brother asked for refuge,
A refuge promised by the UN and the US,
But we welcomed him with detention,
Separation from loved ones.

Teach us to walk a mile in their sandals
And be moved to indignation and action.

Stretch our compassion, O God,
To embrace those
Who see this reality differently.

Move us beyond entrenched beliefs,
Inspire us to creative responses
And justice that restores relationships
And hope for all.

May those who knock at our door
Seeking refuge and hope,
Who are met with condemnation and walls
     by this nation,
May they challenge us
To live our baptismal promise to the Gospel,
And may they judge us with compassion
     when we fail. 

Amen

Note: This prayer first appeared in the Maryknoll Lay Missioners’ Voices of Compassion, Spring 2019. Reprinted with permission.

 

Jueves, 27 Junio 2019 18:44

Maryknoll Lay Missioner/Lawyer

Written by

Mary Ryan-Hotchkiss – Portland Chapter

On our annual road trip, I met briefly with Heidi Cerneka, a Maryknoll Lay Missioner, in El Paso.

Heidi said she was inspired to join the Lay Missioners while she was still in college and heard about the church women being martyred in El Salvador. Rather than being frightened, their dedication excited her. As a Lay Missioner, Heidi worked many years in Brazil with women in prisons, but at 50 years of age she decided to go to law school. Now she works for a nonprofit, Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center in El Paso, as an immigration lawyer. Most of her work involves asylum cases. In this part of Texas only about 3% of asylum applicants are successful. She said that in other jurisdictions, e.g., parts of New York or Portland, Oregon, about 50% of asylum applicants are eventually granted asylum.

The Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy center needs volunteers and interns. Besides the obvious need for workers with legal expertise, Heidi specifically mentioned that social workers or counselors could interview clients. The organization’s website—Las-Americas.org—includes two pages requesting interns and volunteers and listing needs.

I asked Heidi her message for Affiliates. She emphasized, “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. The US needs to be a place where people can come with fair immigration policies. … All the people that leave the government’s detention centers are now documented; they’re not undocumented or illegal!”

 

Jueves, 27 Junio 2019 04:52

Wishing for More Excitement?

Written by

A little preparation can lead to a lively meeting.

In preparation for a chapter meeting just before Earth Day, Matt Rousso, New Orleans Chapter contact person, sent two questions to the members  of the Gulf South New Orleans Area Chapter:

  • What is one thing you do to combat Climate Change?
  • What is something you could do that challenges you?

Since they’d been discussing and studying Laudato Si and Care for Creation, these questions resonated with the members. Sixteen people attended the meeting and everyone had something to say.

 

Jueves, 27 Junio 2019 04:41

Boston Affiliate Working with Rotary

Written by

Jim Comes – Boston Chapter

Left to right: A Rotary colleague, the HELP technician, and Jim Comes present the Guatemalan family their new stove. 

I recently had the opportunity to work with a local Rotary Club to install wood-burning stoves in two villages on the shores of Lake Atitlan, Guatemala. 
My local Rotary Club in Westborough, Massachusetts, and Rotary clubs in Guatemala City and Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, received a grant from Rotary International to install the stoves.

I worked with another Rotarian from Massachusetts and a local technician from HELP International.  HELP identified 100 families and provided the basic parts needed to install a stove.  Each family agreed to not sell the stove and to purchase eleven cinder blocks which would act as the base for the stove. (Google “Onil stoves Guatemala” to see the stoves.)

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.  Mayan families traditionally cook with open fires on the floor in rooms with little or no ventilation. Several health problems are associated with smoke exposure: acute respiratory disease, chronic bronchitis, asthma, tuberculosis, lung cancer, cardiovascular disease, and others.

With continued support from the grant, local health clinics will be monitored for health issues related to smoke exposure, and some families will be visited to measure air quality in the room where the stove was installed.

In four days, our group of ten Rotarians installed 100 stoves in homes and one larger wood-burning stove in a school. The Mayan families receiving the stoves are very poor—they live in two or three rooms and have none of the basic conveniences we take for granted. The taxi driver who drove us around to different houses told me he makes five dollars a day. In addition to reducing the Mayan family’s exposure to smoke, the stoves burn wood more efficiently, saving trees and money. The families were overjoyed to have the stoves, which will enable them to spend less for wood and hopefully more on food.

Jueves, 27 Junio 2019 04:29

Meeting Maryknoll in St. Louis

Written by

Mary and Manny Hotchkiss – Portland Chapter

Left to right: Manny Hotchkiss and Mary Ryan-Hotchkiss join Patty
Hinton, Debbie Perotta, and Vicki Simon at lunch to learn more
about Midwestern Maryknoll actifiities.

Patty Hinton, Vicki Simon, and the Hotchkisses talked about their connections to Maryknoll over lunch in May. The Hotchkisses were passing through Missouri on their way home to Portland, Oregon, from an Affiliate Board meeting at Maryknoll, NY. Patty Hinton is the Regional Coordinator for the large Midwest region that includes Missouri, Minnesota, Illinois, Ohio, and other nearby states where there currently are no Affiliate chapters. She arranged for Vicki Simon to join us.

Vicki Simon is a returned Maryknoll Lay Missioner who served in Kenya. Since returning, Vicki is on the Maryknoll Lay Missioners’ Board and has served in various Jesuit-related roles in the St. Louis area. She commented that the JustFaith program had been active for over 12 years at St. Francis Xavier “College” parish, St. Louis. Racism and white privilege are discussed in many area churches. She recently volunteered at a migrant refuge affiliated with the El Paso Annunciation House of Hospitality. Having studied Latin American culture and taught Spanish for nine years, she said, “I felt called to do something!” She plans to work at the border again in August.

Jueves, 27 Junio 2019 04:22

Bird Lessons

Written by

Bob Short - Executive Coordinator

In mid-April, a female robin began constructing a nest on the flower trellis just outside our back door. Completed in a few days, the nest looked perfect. To the best of my knowledge, the robin had no access to YouTube or Building a Bird Nest for Dummies to help her with the construction. I spent the next four weeks observing Robi (naming creativity not being my strong suit) several times each day. Though Robi never gave any indication she wanted to become a Maryknoll Affiliate, what I observed over those weeks was an inspiration to me.

Day and night, she spent ninety percent of her time maintaining the nest, often through long periods of cold and rain. Then the eggs came and her motherly resolve grew stronger. Robi was acutely vigilant, as birds need to be, but in time she came to trust and allowed me to get very close to the nest. On each visit I carried on a conversation, essentially the same one every time. Many would say that’s all we humans ever do anyway. I also assured her that I’d do my best to protect her from the neighborhood cat that frequently visited our yard. Robi appeared attentive and receptive but never uttered a peep in return. Even so, I convinced myself that we had become friends.

Then, on the morning of the eleventh day of incubation, a day or two before the eggs were ready to hatch, I opened the back door to ask Robi how her night had been, but she was gone. In her place, inches from the nest, was a squirrel rotating a blue egg, the last one of the clutch, in its front claws – just as squirrels do with an acorn before biting into it.

I couldn’t begin to process all this. How must Robi feel!? Was she distraught, defeated, filled with revenge? Do birds feel, think, have a hidden belief-system or life philosophy to help them deal with such terrible losses? Did she stamp her tiny claws and ask, ‘Why me?!’ Did she just accept it as one of nature’s inevitable cruelties? I wondered too if on some instinctual level birds have a built-in moral code about murder and ornithological injustices; or, perhaps a batch of existential questions around sin, redemption, and an afterlife. Admittedly, these are almost assuredly the entirely wrong questions emerging from a small, inchoate human mind. I had to check myself. Were all these queries and projections simply yet another example of anthropomorphic excess that we humans apply to so much else in the cosmos, including God?

Yet, I couldn’t let go of the possibility that there must be a lesson in this for me. Robi, like everything in nature except us humans, never left the confines (and freedom) of life’s natural rhythms. She knew in a different, non-cerebral way without needing to ask either existential questions or the tedious ones that often consume our lives. She knew in a different way—perhaps much like the monk who, after forty years of searching for ‘the answers,’ came around the bend on a mountain trail one early spring morning, saw a peach tree in full bloom, and proclaimed to himself, “Now I understand!”

Last week a robin built a new nest; this time on the door ledge of the porch outside the entrance door of our house. Squirrels could never get to this one. I have to believe it’s Robi. We’ve resumed our conversation.

Jueves, 27 Junio 2019 04:13

Welcoming Maryknollers

Written by

The Affiliate Hospitality Initiative core group—Patty Hinton, Roxanne Hughes-Wheatland, Manny Hotchkiss, and Bob Short—are compiling a list of Affiliate households that are available to offer hospitality to Maryknollers traveling for work or pleasure. Once the list is completed, we will post the number of potential hosts by geographic area (e.g., Boston, Saint Louis, Los Angeles, Washington, DC, etc.) but no names or addresses. Maryknollers, including Affiliates, requesting hospitality in a given area would contact Bob Short, who will assess the request. If an Affiliate host is available, Bob will have the host contact the interested Maryknoller.

Hospitality Data Gathering – If you are interested in participating, please respond to HospitalityForm. Don’t forget to fill out the anti-robot code box. When completed, hit SUBMIT. 

If you have any questions, contact Bob Short at: Esta dirección de correo electrónico está siendo protegida contra los robots de spam. Necesita tener JavaScript habilitado para poder verlo..

 

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