A funny thing happened on the way to the Forum! Not the Broadway musical; this Forum is a room in the Maryknoll Sisters’ Center House in Maryknoll, NY—where our Board gathered in October, and I was elected Chairperson of the Affiliate Board! I would never have imagined myself as chairperson when I began as a Maryknoll Affiliate 11 years ago.
On my way home that day, I reflected on my life as an Affiliate, and about how best to positively impact the Affiliates. So, by way of introduction, I am sharing some thoughts as I begin this new endeavor with you.
What Do You Think?
* Does your Chapter want new members?
* If so, who is most likely to be interested in Maryknoll Affiliates?
* How would you find these people?
* What would you say to them?
* What activities would attract them?
* What image or photo would attract them?
We want to hear your ideas. Drop a note or email to a Board member, your regional coordinator, or our executive coordinator,
Three years ago, Pope Francis released Laudato Si (Praise Be to You), his encyclical on “Care for Our Common Home,” to “communicate above all a sense of deep urgency and profound concern for the precarious state of our common planetary home.” [P. Francis - 1]
Nine months ago—at MAC 2017 in Guatemala—the Buen Vivir cosmovision helped us realize that we are citizens of different countries, belonging to one world that urgently needs love and care!
“The cosmovision shared by indigenous communities tells us that we are interdependent with one another. Harming any natural resource is harming us”.—Quechua, Peru Native
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.
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?
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.
I have been involved with the Affiliate Movement since it began. The first Affiliate Board, begun by the Maryknoll Fathers with Jim Madden as Coordinator in September 1991, was very different from the present one, with only representatives of the Society. In April of 1992, I joined Sr. Ellen McDonald, MM, at the third Board meeting, in Chicago. Following this meeting, Sr. Ellen became Co-Coordinator of the Affiliate Movement, and I represented Full Circle. In June of 1994, I resigned and moved to Florida to take care of my mother who was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. At that time, there were thirteen Board members—seven were Affiliates and six were Maryknoll members, two from each entity. The present Board, with four Maryknoll entity members and eight Affiliates, has space for more Affiliates if you are interested in becoming a member.
When I first served on the Board, I belonged to the Westchester Affiliate Chapter. However, when I returned from Florida, Ronnie Gilligan invited me to join the Long Island Affiliate Chapter. There I have had the opportunity to help plan meetings, to create prayer services, to enter into community at our chapter meetings, and to engage in a short-term trip to Zimbabwe. This has enriched me, deepened my spirituality and enabled me to bear witness to the gift of Maryknoll in my life. This group supported me as I coordinated the first Memorial Mass for deceased Affiliates held at Maryknoll on March 4, 2017, an event that I hope will be repeated at Maryknoll or at a regional meeting.
In April of 2016, with the encouragement of the Long Island Affiliates, I was accepted as a member of the current Affiliate Board. The Affiliate Board is, I feel, the nucleus of the Affiliate Movement; a unique representation of Affiliate chapters who gather from all over the world together with members of the other Maryknoll entities. Membership in local chapters can be insular. Belonging to the Board is an opportunity to engage in the ongoing projects of Affiliates at both the national and the international level. It enables me to connect with other groups, renew my commitment to Maryknoll, and enter more fully into the movement that I helped to start more than twenty-five years ago.
The May/June 2018 Misioneros Magazine of Maryknoll features MAC 2017 and also tells of an Affiliate in Peru. See the articles online:
I first got to know the Affiliates when I was doing formation work in Chicago (1990-94) and was asked to join the founding Affiliate Board to help with the beginnings of the Affiliate Movement. It was a time of great excitement as this new Expression of Maryknoll came into being.
To share a bit about my background, I was born in Boston, raised in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, and spent many of my early years in St. Paul, Minnesota. I joined the Peace Corps after college and graduate school, and as a volunteer and staff member in Korea, I got to know Maryknoll Missioners there. I joined Maryknoll in 1975 and after ordination in 1980, I was sent back to Korea on mission.
I am now a member of several Affiliate Chapters. Presently I live in Chicago and attend the Chicago Affiliate meetings. I also attend the meetings of the Contemplative Affiliate Group and the Kenya Affiliate Chapter, both of which meet virtually using Skype. And I have been connected with the Korea Affiliate Chapter for years, so that when I visit Korea, I attend their chapter meetings. In addition, I am the Society General Council member who relates to the Affiliates, and therefore I am again on the Affiliate Board.
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).
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.
After the 2017 Maryknoll Affiliate Conference in Guatemala, I reconnected with my former mission site and renewed my life energy and hope in mission. I was able to visit San Marcos, a beautiful town in the Western Highland of Guatemala near the Mexican border located about five hours northeast of Guatemala City, at an altitude of about 3000 feet. Another Maryknoll sister and I, as members of the Diocesan Pastoral Team for Women, visited many of the parishes, empowering their women’s teams.
Many women, mostly Mayan, shared their joy at being able to see the bigger world more clearly, as though being led out of the smoke in their kitchens. Besides themes from the Bible, we discussed women’s health, women’s rights, ecological projects, and managing profit-generating handcrafts. Many women shared their struggle to find safe places.
Until a few weeks ago, there were two Affiliate virtual chapters. The first has six members crossing three U.S. time zones and has met three times. The second is a contemplative virtual chapter that focuses on reflective conversation and prayer. Members from both of these chapters have spoken very positively about how meaningful the experiences have been.
On Sunday, October 1st, a third, hybrid Affiliate chapter entered the virtual Maryknoll Affiliate world. Approximately 15 members from three continents and as many countries: Kenya, Germany, and the US—crossing too many time zones to count—held their first meeting. This hybrid virtual chapter evolved from the creative vision and organizational acumen of Gerald Grudzen, PhD, and Marita Grudzen, who have been connected to Maryknoll in several capacities for many years.
Meet Gerry Mullaney
Gerry hales from the Northeast Ohio Maryknoll Affiliate Chapter and was part of the original core group that sought recognition as a chapter. After a lengthy application/preparation period, they were recognized in March, 2014. The Northeast Ohio Chapter proudly focuses on the Global Vision pillar with multiple travels and subsequent connections with missioners in Tanzania, Cambodia, and Bolivia. The Northeast Ohio Chapter also goes local with efforts to support a parish hunger program and more recent activity to address the cruelty of US immigration policy.
Gerry became an Affiliate Board member in the spring of 2016. Now working only part-time as a mental health therapist, Gerry has more time to devote to Affiliate matters. He is on the Nominating Committee of the Affiliate Board and says, “Keep those nominations coming!!!” Beyond this, Gerry has a strong interest in furthering the connections between individual Affiliate chapters and missioners in the field. This is consistent with the Northeast Ohio Chapter’s emphasis on Global Vision and with the Maryknoll Affiliate call to “go beyond borders... to walk with the poor and excluded, and to strive for peace and justice for all of God’s creation.”
* Affiliate Board Topic *
Meeting in Guatemala before MAC 2017, the Board will discuss Board, Regional Coordinator, and Affiliate ideas on our 5-Year Vision. Chapters and individuals are encouraged to help develop our 5-Year Vision, possibly using the “ Easy Meeting” in the Sept/Oct 2017 NSFA, and share their thoughts with their regional coordinators.
Rich, a Maryknoll Affiliate in the Albany Chapter since 2006 and a Board member since 2013, loves being in the company of other Affiliates and Maryknollers. His wife Denise and two young adult children, bring him much joy as he adjusts to retirement.
On the Affiliate leadership team, Rich meets regularly with Lay Missioners, Sisters, and Fathers and Brothers to discuss present challenges and to help plan for the future. To advance the Affiliate movement, Rich wants to:
Rich’s personal desire is to be in mission overseas when the opportunity presents itself. For now he looks forward to spending time with Affiliates and other Maryknollers in Guatemala at MAC 2017.