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.
I’m not at all sure what prompted it, but on a phone call yesterday afternoon, a close friend asked me if, simply by association, “Maryknoll” had become for me a vicarial way of convincing myself that I was living out a committed life of service in a global world. Now, this friend is a smart person (who else uses vicarial these days?) who knows and loves Maryknoll. Still, his question initially disturbed me. What prompted him to ask? What did he mean by it?
We talked for some time. Unfortunately, the glass of wine poured earlier was out of reach from the chair next to the phone. While the question could have rather complex psychological and theological implications, I simply understood it to mean that I shouldn’t allow my connection to Maryknoll, most especially in those days of past glories, to become a vicarious substitute for all the commitments in and around me (some global and some domestic and rather unexciting) that I needed to attend to.
In 2004, My husband and I went on a FAB (Friends Across Borders) trip to Kenya. We knew in advance that this would be a special trip but went with no idea about how this would affect our lives.
When we arrived in Nairobi, it was early morning and the city was awakening. The ride from the airport was a wake-up to life in a developing country; the smell of burning garbage filled the air, and street children were wandering through the outskirts of the city to begin their day, alone and in search of their daily bread. People were everywhere, walking or waiting for the small crowded buses—matatus—to take them into town for their business of the day.
I knew nothing about this country and her people but was anxious to learn about everything we were going to experience as we were immersed in the work of Maryknoll in the bustling city of Nairobi. I truly was in awe as the day progressed. We settled into the Maryknoll House and began our friendships with our drivers—Paul, Rashid and Simon, and with the Maryknoll priests and lay missioners.
Everyday life and all it takes are holy.
Every single breath is & gift of God. Every exhale is an act of trust.
How close am I to God?
“As the Father is in me, so also am I in you.”
—From the jottings of Bob Maxwell,
A review of
AT PLAY IN THE LIONS’ DEN, by Jim Forest, Orbis Books, 2017
Mary Ryan-Hotchkiss – Portland Chapter
This biography and memoir of Daniel Berrigan, recently released by Orbis Books, has justly received much good press. It was reviewed by both America (https://www.americamagazine.org/arts-culture/2017/11/01/daniel-lions-den-berrigan-biography) and NCR (https://www.ncronline.org/news/people/my-friend-dan-berrigan-another-daniel-lions-den).
As I began reading, I was impressed that there are pictures on almost every page, and that the book has an extensive index, notes, and a bibliography. Pertinent quotes fill frequent sidebars, and readers are treated to snippets of his poetry.
In just the first few pages, I learned that three former Maryknollers were included in the Catonsville Nine, who were tried with Berrigan for their 1968 burning of draft records that earned him and several others a prison term. Some stories added insights into Berigan’s close relationship with Phil Berrigan, his activist priest/brother.
My uncle’s vim and vision and vitality crackle out of the pages of Jim Forest’s book.
Dan Berrigan, Presente!
I kept reading, enjoying the personal stories, his connection with prominent authors such as Thomas Merton and Dorothy Day, and his evolving consciousness about the Viet Nam War, war in general, and nuclear weapons. Since I have lived through some of the same evolutions and times, his memoir allowed me to see with a new perspective and to better acknowledge the troubling positions of the Catholic Church and our country with respect to war. Orbis and Jim Forest have done it again—bringing us great stories and insights. I thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend this book!
Note: Affiliates, don’t forget to ask for your special 40% discount!
When the opportunity has presented itself, I have enjoyed being physically present to engage in short-term mission work. However, this time the call came as a request for “someone to help update our website” in Chicago Affiliate Renate Schneider’s Haitian Connection newsletter. My husband and I had twice volunteered at the university she spearheaded after the 2011 earthquake, and we knew of some of the various programs Renate shepherds through her NGO. Having learned how to post articles on our Maryknoll Affiliates’ website and not having an overloaded schedule, I thought I could help support her efforts in this way.
The updating became a matter of starting a new website from scratch with a WordPress format, partly because I don’t know how to “write code,” the way her original website had been developed. I had to learn new skills even to do this, but no one else had offered to help, and Renate was extremely patient. After only about six months, off and on, we were able to launch the new website. From now on, my volunteer job will be only to post occasional updates.
Although I sat on my couch to do this volunteer work, I felt it was a worthwhile offering. My frequent struggles reminded me of one bible scholar’s comment that God asks us to perform from our weakness, not our strength. Maybe that’s so we’ll realize God was helping us when we succeed.
Besides sharing this experience to encourage you to be open to new ways of doing mission, I want to invite you to visit Renate’s new website:
Learn about the many initiatives she has developed—building homes for women, microcredit, small business startups, mental health programs, and more. Maybe you will see a way that you can help!
I’m writing to you, but feel free to share it with anyone.
I think it’s due to all the crap going on in the world, or here in our once wonderful country, but when I read the latest issue of the Not So Far Afield, it just lifted my heart in a beautiful way that I desperately needed.
Although I know there at many people doing wonderful things around the world, these articles helped to put things in a better perspective so that I can try to look at things in a different way. It really made a difference in my attitude—at least until the next ... fiasco.
So thanks to you and all the Affiliates for your great contribution to the disadvantaged in this world.
*Kathy Wright served the Maryknoll Lay Missioners for over 30 years, in the role of
Admissions Co-coordinator for a good part of that time.
Why focus on inter-cultural and inter-religious dialogue? Maryknoll has always included finding and crossing the borders, the boundaries, to encounter the “other,” that which is foreign, different. Inter-cultural and inter-religious dialogue are necessarily an integral component of our mission. We, as Affiliates, reflect that charism, and these offerings are valuable resources for both reflection and action.
Words to Live By: Sacred Sources for Interreligious Engagement, edited by Rose, Ziad, and Hessler
This collection of essays by authors from various religious backgrounds is very readable and gives flesh and blood to the notion of dialogue. The stories convey a sense of the oneness that people experienced in developing relationships with those of different backgrounds and faiths. This is a really good source book for personal reflection in preparation for interreligious dialogue activities.
A Christology of Religions, by: Gerald O’Collins, SJ
Just as I began to tire of what was becoming too academic or remote in this readable but scholarly text, another gem would jump out. O’Collins placed the traditional elements of Christology in the context of today’s’ emerging understanding of Church. His Christological framework, well within traditional teachings, helps on my journey to move from an ego-centered to an eco-centered theology.
The Risk of Hope: How to talk about God in the World Today, by Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle
This book proclaims all that Maryknoll stands for in a most humble, caring, and truly loving manner. Cardinal Tagle shares himself in a series of anecdotes which illustrate that this man “gets” servant leadership. People who have endorsed his writings say that he has to be on a very short list for successor to Pope Francis at the next conclave. I sure hope so.
Note: Affiliates receive 40% off at Orbisbooks.com.
Action is a key pillar of the Affiliate Movement, as are Spirituality, Community, and Global Vision. We Affiliates are action-oriented, loving and concerned about the world—the whole world. But sometimes we struggle to know how best to pursue our concern, even outrage, at the issues of the world. This NSFA provides ideas on some of those issues: climate change, racism, massive incarceration, detention of immigrant children, and separation of children from their parents. Affiliate chapters provide a home where we can share our outrage, incubate our ideas, and develop an action plan.
The Northwest Regional mini-conference, Mission Nonviolence, to be held Sept. 21-23 in Portland, Oregon, will provide tools to follow the nonviolent Jesus into Action. [See Mission Nonviolence for more information.] We hope you will join us for training in nonviolent methods and an opportunity to meet others who also practice active nonviolence.
A Journey – "Our world is bigger and more complicated than was our experience before the journey."—Kathy Ress, Pam Cibik, and Gerry Mullaney
The State of My Heart – "Did I have enough experience as a Maryknoll Affiliate to be an asset and an effective board member?"—Roxanne Hughes-Wheatland
Continuing Buen Vivir – "We can each share what we are doing personally..."—Kitty & Roger Schiltz
Amazing Affiliates – "Rudy often spoke of Maryknoll values, especially compassion for others."—Dan Heuer
This Land Is Your Land – "Are we Americans who value all other Americans or are we not?"—Tom Hastings
Active NE Ohio Chapter – "They were quick to advocate for immigrants and refugees, gun control and concern about shootings, and the poor and hungry."—Mary Ryan-Hotchkiss
North Carolina Chapter – "Blessings from all of our Chapter."—Gloria Tan
Doing Mission in the 21st Century – "Thus, we must continue to go where we are needed—at home or abroad; perhaps wanted, perhaps not."—Ron Covey
News from the Board and Executive Coordinator:
Events you should know about:
If you prefer to see the NSFA in its printed form, you may download a pdf of the July/August 2018 Not So Far Afield.
The present-day consensus among biological and social scientists is that race is a social construct, not a biological (genetic) one. It is estimated that as a species, we humans share 99.9% of our DNA with each other. The few differences that do exist reflect variances in environments and external factors, not genetics.
We might assume that the advances in human genetics and the evidence of such trifling differences (0.1%) between all people would put an end to racist arguments. On the contrary, genetics has been used to further racist and ethnocentric views and, for those so inclined, offer justification for discriminations and atrocities. As we know more than ever in these times, for many in power, facts and solid evidence are of little consequence when it comes to behavior and policy. What is it about race (primary eye and skin color and height) that has so very deeply tarnished our history and our relationships with each other?
This is a story of three friends and a journey. The friends are Kathy, Pam and Gerry. The journey begins in 2003 and continues—it spans four continents and 9 countries. The backdrop is Maryknoll. Who were these friends when we embarked? Who are we now? What happened in between? Where are we now?
Kathy, Pam, and Gerry knew each other for some years before the journey. We shared traditional Catholic, Christian roots. We shared professional identities as mental health clinicians. We were good people who cared for our families and provided service to our clients in American society.
Then we encountered Maryknoll. Kathy had a head start as the sister of Judy, a Maryknoll Lay Missioner, who served in Chile. Kathy and Judy hosted us on a visit to Chile over the new year in 2004. There, we learned some important history—including the darkness in our Church’s history of complicity in the abuses of colonialism and in our country’s foreign policy which provided comfort to Augusto Pinochet with his abuses of human rights in the 1970s and 1980s. We saw light as well in the challenging and healing posture of Maryknoll.
Following this adventure in Chile, we became intrigued with Maryknoll. We began a series of Friends Across Borders visits—to Tanzania in 2007, to Cambodia in 2010, and to Bolivia in 2012. These were not the mission trips of “doing for others” that family and friends expected. We enjoyed a richer experience of walking with sisters and brothers of different cultures and sharing and learning.
We colored and played with the street boys of Mwanza, Tanzania. We experienced the exuberant music and an African blessing extended through the outstretched hands of the entire Sunday Mass congregation. We witnessed Liz Mach’s loving and healing touch for her fistula girls at Bugando Hospital.
In contrast to Tanzania, in Cambodia was the quiet serenity of Hindu and Buddhist history and culture. We learned of darkness again—the cruelties of Tuol Sleng prison and the killing fields during the Khmer Rouge terror. Again Maryknoll showed us light in the work of Father Charlie Dittmeier, who is bringing the previously unserved and rejected hearing-impaired population into connection with Cambodian society. Father Kevin Conroy is establishing psychological healing in a country in so much need of these services.
Bolivia provided an opportunity for contact with the indigenous—the Aymara and Quechua—and their gifts of welcome with blankets full of food, woven goods, and dance. The personal encounters provided deeper meaning: the old man on the shore of Lake Titicaca expressing his happiness that we visited his village to be with him; the prisoner in Cochabamba showing his appreciation for our attendance at Easter Mass with the community of prisoners.
Beginning in 2014, our journey continued with travels to Latin America with the assistance of two other organizations—GATE (Global Awareness Through Experience), and the School Sisters of Notre Dame. These stops included Guatemala, El Salvador, Cuba, and the United States border with Mexico. Again, we were witnesses to darkness—the decades- long genocide in Guatemala with US government complicity, the cruelty of the Cuban embargo, and the ongoing suffering of Mexican migrants who seek a share of God’s gifts across their border with the United States despite US “keep out” efforts. Again, there was light—the Saints—Stanley Rother in Guatemala and Oscar Romero of El Salvador—the migrant outreach of the interfaith border ministry in Douglas, Arizona and Agua Prieta, Mexico, the universal education and health care in Cuba. Most of all, again, the brightest light was that provided by the people who welcomed us and appreciated our witness to them and their experience.
So here we are now—what are we to make of all of this? Our world is bigger and more complicated than was our experience before the journey. It is filled with pain and darkness, both past and present. It is also filled with light. We—Kathy, Pam, and Gerry—agree that the most memorable and meaningful light has been our encounters and connections with our fellow human beings—indeed our sisters and brothers—across different cultures and life experiences who share our humanity—who live and love and suffer as we do—and who can appreciate and share with us as I hope we do with them. In this journey, the spiritual connection among the three of us has deepened as well. We continue this journey through the establishing of a Maryknoll Affiliate chapter in Northeast Ohio.
Finally, as we found God present in these cultures and people, in their struggles, in their gifts to us, and in the loving and healing works of saints, we can conclude that God is bigger and better than we imagined, bigger and better than the darkness and pain of life. We are challenged to live believing this. We are challenged to contest walls and to continue living lives of encountering and connecting with all of our sisters and brothers.
*This article was first published in Maryknoll Lay Missioners’ Voices of Compassion as “A Memorable Journey,“ p. 22, Volume 18, Issue 1.
Are you ready to plan your own immersion experience? Find out about
upcoming trips at: http://www.friendsacrossborders.org/
Our Affiliate Global Vision helps us to see immigrants as brothers and sisters in need of our care and understanding. We are all members of families and cannot imagine the horror that families separated at the border are experiencing, the newest chapter in their migration tragedy.
The fate of Marco Antonio Munoz (find on https://www.washingtonpost.com), who was found dead in his cell after being forcibly separated from his 3 year old son at the US border tears at our hearts.
The Maryknoll Office of Global Concerns provides some concrete actions we can take. See Maryknollogc.org. We urge you to join the many organizations demonstrating in the streets, to advocate to the government officials for immediate compassionate immigration reform, to provide physical and emotional support to refugees in our communities, and to lift up our united voices in prayer in our churches for our detained sisters and brothers.
This is an invitation to continue in the spirit of “Buen Vivir”. (We miss you. How are you doing?) We can each share what we are doing personally globally, spiritually, and in action in this beautiful Maryknoll community.
Our sharing: Maimuna is a lively young girl living at St. Agnes Chipole Children’s Home, Tanzania. We met her in 2012 when she was an infant brought to the orphanage because she wasn’t expected to live. Since then, when visiting the children, we have been charmed by Maimuna’s sense of fun and spirit. She is always at the center of activities playing with the other kids her age, peeling peanuts, and carrying wood, a smile always on her face. She is just beginning elementary school with life ahead of her.
I attended the most recent Maryknoll Affiliate Board meeting at Maryknoll, NY, as a new board member. It was a wonderful opportunity to become acquainted with the other board members and see firsthand the level of dedication and hard work that is required to support the Affiliate members who carry out the Affiliate mission in their individual communities. Prior to arriving at the meeting, I certainly had many questions. What could I contribute to the board? Did I have enough experience as a Maryknoll Affiliate to be an asset and an effective board member? It is through this lens that I viewed my trip up to Maryknoll, NY, from just outside Baltimore, Maryland, on Thursday, April 19, 2018.
I arrived at Maryknoll on a cool and cloudy afternoon, and later that evening, after the other new board member—Rosa Beatriz Castañeda de Larios from Guatemala—and I received a warm welcome, the work of the board was underway. The meeting began with reflections from every board member regarding salient events and people who shaped their lives.