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.
For the sixth consecutive year, we carried out the March of Nonviolence on October 2. Marchers included the Lima, Peru, Chapter of Maryknoll Affiliates, lay people of the parish, area residents and college students, Father Jose Fedora, MM, Maryknoll Sisters Rosemary McCormack and Analyn Manauis, and the Ambassador from India in Peru.
This march celebrates the birth of Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of India’s Independence, and renews our commitment to follow in his footsteps. Historically, Gandhi’s actions demonstrated that pacifism was a valid instrument for achieving political objectives. Gandhi maintained his struggle through peaceful resistance and seeking concord, and gained India’s independence without bloodshed, in a century convulsed by two world wars and a number of tragic events.
During the March of Nonviolence, we are sensitized against using violence toward children, men, women, animals, or Mother Earth, and we are reminded that peace should lead us to love each other, no matter what religious creed each person practices. We pray to God that with the passage of time the March will take us to take us further along the path of nonviolence where we create an atmosphere of respect and harmony between the population to the south of Lima and Mother Earth.
*Translated from “Marcha por la No Violencia en Perú,” in No Tan Lejos del Horizonte #35, Nov-Dec 2018.
On Friday noon, after four and a half days of restoring a house with the Houston Chapter Mission project, two of the facilitators, Bob & Ruth Kleeman, took the Affiliate mission members on a trip to give us a taste of rural Texas. We hopped into three cars and headed out on a two-hour ride across the vast, flat landscape of southeastern Texas to a little town called Nada.
For those with even a cursory knowledge of Spanish, “Nada” initially seemed like a perfectly fitting name. The town-folk we spoke with estimated that there were a little over 300 people in town. However, the last available census in 2000 counted only 165. The discrepancy is probably attributable to genuine local pride. Reportedly, Nada boasts a grocery store and US Post Office. All any of us could see that day along Highway 71, which cuts through the center of town, were an auto garage and Leo’s Place, a bar and restaurant. Checking on Facebook for “Things to do in Nada, TX” brings up a photo of an open crop field with a John Deere combine and a truck in the distance. No other photos or text appear on the page.
Have you ever wondered, as I do, what caused the miracle of Caminando Por La Paz to continue? In the nearly ten years since Father Tom Goekler's death, we at Caminando have received an unbelievable amount of support from our fellow Affiliates. We believe that God has used the Affiliates to continue the miracle of Caminando.
When I first became involved with the Caminando Por La Paz Catholic Worker House, the Catholic Worker House in New Haven, CT, sent us some money for our educational efforts. I was not sure how I could communicate sufficiently with the folks at Caminando, so I arranged a meeting with the Affiliates of the Guatemala Chapter. That Guatemala Chapter continues to be in strong solidarity with us, giving encouragement to us and all our activities. Rosa Beatriz (Guatemala chapter and Affiliate Board member) says, “Our meetings make us feel as one community.” She also says it is such a joy to see our red truck coming with the people from “Zone 18,” as they refer to us from Caminando.
An exciting exploration of new ways to be Affiliates is blossoming in Kenya. Fourteen prospective Affiliates from Mombasa, Nairobi, California, Chicago, Florida, and Germany have been coming together for formation, discussion and prayer, in person and virtually, since 2017. Interfaith collaboration is a guiding principle of their chapter. Members include Catholic and non-Catholic Christians and a Muslim. The chapter has a strong interaction with various Maryknollers. The Affiliate Board accepted their application in January. We look to learn much from this new chapter.
As Executive Director for Maryknoll Lay Missioners since December 2017, I also serve on the Maryknoll Affiliate Board as its liaison with the Maryknoll Lay Missioners. In this position, I am discovering ways that all Maryknollers can work together in mission.
My mission background started when I was “ruined for life” with a little help from the Jesuits. After my B.A. at Loyola University, Maryland, and M.A. from Bucknell University, I volunteered with Jesuit Volunteers for two years in education and youth empowerment programs in Belize and Guatemala.
Since then, I have served in parish ministry, Catholic high school education, and archdiocesan leadership development for more than three decades. My most recent position was as Catholic Relief Services’ Relationship Manager for Youth and Education and coordinator of the agency’s youth outreach in the US. I’m humbled that the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry awarded me a national award for leadership in youth ministry in the area of gospel values of peace and justice.
Fun Facts: My favorite pastimes include time with my niece and two nephews, following the Baltimore Orioles, and swimming, camping, and hiking, the latter fueling my passion to work for climate justice.
The new year beckons. Are we open to change? Will our actions and words change us, or others?
On our cover, Evelyn Brush experiences Radical Hospitality and says she is forever changed. Seattle Affiliates learn that racism cripples all of us, but that the words and actions of the transformational values of abundance, transparency and collaboration could change unjust systems.
Pope Francis’ new peace prayer urges communication with new words and actions as the way to peace. Our executive coordinator, Bob Short offers the possibility of a deeper knowing with wordless contemplation, as does a new virtual chapter.
Articles in this issue:
Border Crossing - "I had been truly out of my element."—Evelyn Brush
Building the Beloved Community: Racism and Beyond - "As Christian Americans seeking justice, we need to face up to our role in racism."—Kitty Schiltz
The Inspiration for Chapter Companions - "Now we are working to get the word out to all chapters, wherever they are, that they can have a Maryknoller as a companion."—Mary Moritz
The Blessings of Companionship - "There is such potential in the Companions program to add to the richness of the Affiliate experience."—Gerry Mullaney
Houston Chapter’s Maryknoll Affiliate Mission - "It was obvious that the Holy Spirit sent the right people with the right skills to get the job done."—Judy Horstman
Sustaining Huruma - "So many awe-inspiring developments in the past year!"—Bertha Haas
Easy Meeting—Global Vision – "Over our meal, we had many conversations with each other about our global connections."—Mary Ryan-Hotchkiss
Nicaragua: Speaking Truth to Power - "No one could have imagined the catastrophic changes about to emerge."—Kitty Madden
Learn more about your Maryknoll Affiliate Board and Executive Coordinator in these articles:
Knowing in the Wordless Spaces - Jim Coady insightfully added that almost always, “We learn more from experiences than from documents.”
A Presence with Past Connections – "Because of my interest in our Affiliate movement, I am happy to be one of the liaisons to the Maryknoll Affiliates."—Sr. Norie Mojado, MM
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 January/February 2019 issue.
A presentation on human trafficking I attended was both informative and disturbing. Thankfully, the presenters included a list of actions and opportunities if we wanted to be more involved. One opportunity was at Rahab’s Sisters.
Rahab’s Sisters, a safe space for women to gather each Friday night, offers dinner, time off the street or away from ‘boyfriends,’ and needed supplies: socks, underwear, and hygiene items. It operates out of Sts. Peter and Paul Episcopal Church in Portland, Oregon. Volunteers serve the female guests (and those who self-identify as female), most of whom are unhoused and over 45 years old. Some are prostitutes; many are addicts, and many are women of color.
Rahab’s Sisters emphasizes Radical Hospitality. Their vision is a city where all women are safe from physical and sexual exploitation. They offer a warm, safe environment with nutritious food, hot coffee, and conversation. From 7-10 in the evening, it is a place for women helping women, whatever the guest’s condition. Actively using drugs is discouraged, but “Our sisters are welcomed without judgment, no strings attached.” (https://rahabs-sisters.org)
The Affiliate Book Group resumes April 2019!
Come join us. We suggest reading and discussing ~
edited by Marie Dennis
and time for a weekly telephone conversation, and any
additional books or authors you’d like us to consider.
How do you participate in your chapter?
Your chapter appreciates your involvement!
In November, instead of their usual meeting, seven Seattle Affiliates attended the Intercommunity Peace & Justice Center’s workshop by that name. It was presented by two Notre Dame Sisters who work with Pax Christi: Patricia Chappell, Executive Director, and Anne Louis Nadeau, Director of Programs. This dynamic duo presented a fast-paced exposé of racism—its history and effects. They defined racism as America’s original sin against people of color, including those of African, African-American, Caribbean, Latino, or Middle Eastern ancestry.
In groups, we discussed why talking about racism is taboo among white people and how we identify ourselves as white. Our group had a mixture of people of color and white. It came down to the belief that white people, mostly in denial of their role in racism, feel shame, fear, or pain when discussing it. White privilege is both conscious and unconscious. Racism combines personal racial prejudice and the misuse of power by systems and institutions.
Come - move your feet,
Take that step
subdue that fear of being
different uncomfortable vulnerable.
Being a stranger goes both ways –
through the threshold of this hut/home
new worlds open
Karibu, calls -
what do you hear?
what do you do?
*a Swahili greeting of welcome in East Africa
At their most recent gathering of the first virtual chapter*, members spontaneously surfaced the thought that maybe there are just too many words attached to almost everything these days… dishonest political words, manipulative marketing words, sanctimonious religious words, ego words that compare, compete, connive, contrast, contrive and, perhaps the biggest offenders, all those unsettling words and scenarios that incessantly play out in our heads. Understandably, some of you reading this might be feeling that this article is itself quickly becoming an offender in this verbosity plague.
Words are important. Poetic, truthful words, and others like, thank you, forgive me, I love you, whoops, and, for carnivores, medium rare, surely have a place. Still, we haven’t done very well at sticking to the good words. How can we best get hold of all this?
Over-explanation separates us
from astonishment. – Eugene Ionesco
As the conversation evolved, we talked (admittedly, in words) about those wordless spaces – walking in the forest, standing by the ocean, listening to music, sitting in a chapel, holding a newborn – wherein peace washes over us and we come to know in a different, peaceful and compelling way. You too might be tempted to add to the list. Hopefully, neither Chardonnay nor Merlot would get many honest votes in this regard.
Mostly, our time together focused on how each of us has come to a place of deeper knowing. Jim Coady insightfully added that almost always, “We learn more from experiences than from documents.” Although not physically present in this virtual community, Richard Rohr helped us out when he wrote that, “Knowing is the empty space around the words, allowing God to fill in all the gaps in an ‘unspeakable’ way.” That could serve as a definition for faith.
From a distance, all this might seem a bit fuzzy and/or dense. Even that characterization will be euphemistic for some. Still, as 2019 begins to unfold and all of us in Maryknoll strive to live with integrity, love, and groundedness in these very uncertain, noisy times, we can gain strength and courage by visiting these wordless spaces. I think that those in the Contemplative Virtual Chapter would concur.
*Currently, three chapters meet virtually: one of Affiliates who've moved, the Contemplative Virtual Chapter, and an international chapter.
Lord, make us instruments of your peace.
Help us to recognize the evil latent in a communication that does not build communion.
Help us to remove the venom from our judgements.
Help us to speak about others as our brothers and sisters.
You are faithful and trustworthy; may our words be seeds of goodness for the world:
where there is shouting, let us practice listening;
where there is confusion, let us inspire harmony;
where there is ambiguity, let us bring clarity;
where there is exclusion, let us offer solidarity;
where there is sensationalism, let us use sobriety;
where there is superficiality, let us raise real questions;
where there is prejudice, let us awaken trust;
where there is hostility, let us bring respect;
where there is falsehood, let us bring truth.
On a Friends Across Borders (FAB) trip in Tanzania, we listened to Maryknoll Lay Missioner Liz Mach and those being helped at Bugando Medical Center in Mwanza. After hearing their stories and the wonderful work of Liz and others at the hospital, my friend Kathy turned to me and said, “We are with saints.”
The new Maryknoll Affiliates Companions program can provide Affiliate chapters and companions an opportunity to be with saints over time and space far exceeding a short FAB visit and a single hospital tour. And, by the way, the saints can also include our sisters and brothers worldwide with whom Maryknollers walk.
There is such potential in the Companions program to add to the richness of the Affiliate experience. This can take the form of spiritual wisdom, support, and guidance from a Father, Brother, Sister or Lay Missioner. It can also expand our global awareness of the struggle and the witness in Maryknoll mission sites worldwide. Then there is the potential for larger action on the part of Affiliate chapters, whether locally or globally, as we continue to do our best to advance God’s kingdom in the world.
As an Affiliate Regional Coordinator, I travel to Maryknoll in Ossining, NY, at least once a year to attend a joint Regional Coordinator/Board Meeting. Every time I go there, I am struck by the wisdom and grace that I find in the Maryknollers who are there. Just one example of this is my second cousin, Fr. Frank “Pancho” Higdon, a Maryknoll Priest now residing there. It is always a joy for me to spend time with him. We both get energized by the sharing of our ideas and experiences.
At the Affiliate Board Meeting that I attended in October, we split into small groups for discussion and planning purposes. Each small group was invited to develop an idea to test—a prototype–that might bless the Affiliate movement. In our small group, I shared that I would like to develop a program that might allow all Affiliate chapters to benefit from the great wisdom that Maryknollers have. Some chapters, like mine in Florida, didn’t have any such connection. I believed that both the Maryknollers and the chapters would benefit greatly from more frequent sharing.
My hope is that connections will be made around the world between Maryknoll Affiliates and the missioners with whom we share the Maryknoll charism.—Paula Schaffner
My group—Ralph Maughan, Jean Menton, Gerry Mullaney, Paula Schaffner, and I—drafted a plan for a Chapter Companions Program, for which we agreed to be the core team. This program allows chapters to ask for a Maryknoller to be their companion. A chapter and its companion could communicate by email, phone, mail, WhatsApp, or Skype. If possible, the companion could visit the chapter.
Depending on their time and energy, a chapter companion could provide a chapter with an opening or closing prayer, or give them information on a topic to discuss at a meeting. Perhaps the companion could sometimes join the meeting, possibly by Skype. The chapter coordinator might want to ask the companion for advice relative to a chapter issue. The companion could pray for the chapter, and the chapter could pray for the companion. The hope would be that this mutual relationship would bloom and grow, and be meaningful and enriching to all concerned.
As of mid-December, the Sisters, the Priests and Brothers, and the Lay Missioners have all agreed to participate. We are excited about the positive response we have received! Now we are working to get the word out to all chapters, wherever they are, that they can have a Maryknoller as a companion. Some chapters already have a Maryknoller who is actively involved with them. We hope that these chapters will “sign on” also, and just let us know about their existing chapter companion.