About every other edition, the co-editors of NSFA ask me (I kiddingly claim with some arm-twisting going on) to consider writing an article. Sometimes they suggest a theme and provide leading questions to do so. Here are the fluffy-soft questions they came up with this time: What signs of hope do you see among us? How have we been connecting with the rest of Maryknoll? What is our biggest challenge? All any of us would need to effectively address these questions is a lifetime plus a few more weeks. Of course, these are very worthy questions for where we find ourselves today. With that in mind, and with unawareness of my limitations, some thought on those questions follows.
The Greater Boston Affiliate Chapter held their annual retreat in mid-November at the Maryknoll Sisters’ retreat/vacation house in Watch Hill, RI. The retreat followed the 2016 election by only a few days, and the 14 Affiliate participants from five New England states arrived feeling rattled, despondent and holding emotions not felt in a long time. Thankfully, retreats, if they are good, have a way of opening our minds and souls to deeper, more hope-filled realities. This retreat surely did that. What’s more, the physical setting, with expansive views of the Atlantic Ocean accessible from many vantage points within the spacious house; and, outside, a leaf covered pathway that led one to that ocean shore in just minutes, politely colluded to usher in a sense of, “It’ll all be ok.”
Somewhere in his writings, Saint Francis of Assisi wrote that the Lord “…wants me to be a new kind of fool in the world…” Just a few minutes into gathering together as Maryknollers—seeing how the New Orleans Chapter welcomed all of us, the global and local issues that consumed us (and the consumer issues that didn’t), the wholehearted laughter that filled us, and maybe even the simple dress that clothed us—gave some evidence that we too were aspiring towards the new fool in the world classification. The advanced levels of insight, education, creativity and life experience don’t disqualify in this regard.
Seeking Global Community is our Affiliate vision statement. “Seeking” might not be the perfect verb (up until a few years ago, it was “Creating,” but that seemed a touch grandiose). Nevertheless, global community was and is at the heart of our intention.
So, we ask if the world today is more unified or less unified than it was yesterday? Is there a sense, if still faint, that we are a part of a wondrous whole, an integral, connected global community? The evidence for and against this supposition is abundant.
This year we celebrate 25 years as an Affiliate movement. There are over 700 active Affiliates in 55 Chapters in 9 countries – Bolivia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Korea, Mexico, Peru, Philippines, Tanzania and the US. I wonder if the founders of the movement, Jim Madden, MM, and Ellen McDonald, MM, could have imagined such expansive growth in such a short time. These numbers only hint at how many hearts have been moved, how much solidarity felt, and justice realized as we live out the Maryknoll charism that inspired the movement
Adapted from Bob Short’s presentations at the 2015 Western and Midwest Regional Affiliate Conferences.
A phone conversation with Celine Woznica, the Chicago Central Chapter contact person, inspired this title. She and her husband Don are my friends from our days as Maryknoll Lay Missioners in Latin America. When asked if the Affiliate movement was beginning to wind down, she immediately replied, “No! It can’t wind down; so much in the world needs people with our vision and commitment.”
Join me in examining the impact of the Affiliate Movement from three perspectives: (1) the outer reality, (2) the inner reality, and (3) the Affiliate Pillars.
For two weeks in mid-December Patty Barneond de Garcia Tres, Affiliate Board member and liaison to Latin America, and Bob Short traveled to Bolivia and Peru to meet with Affiliates and Maryknollers in those two countries. This is Bob’s second article on that trip.
Within two days after arriving in Cochabamba and meeting with the Affiliates there, it became apparent that something was different; that, in several ways, a different calculus was applied to how life is lived and mission embraced. As Patty and I continued our trip, visiting Santa Cruz and the Peruvian populations of Lima, Arequipa, and Chiguata, a small village in the mountains outside of Arequipa, that perception stayed with me.
The new www.maryknollaffiliates.org is up and running! Opening the site, you will see that it looks and feels significantly different from the old website. The Affiliate Four Pillars: Spirituality, Community, Global Vision and Action, are prominently displayed on the home page. Visually, the formatting—
multi-colored layers and many more photos—engages the viewer from the outset. Navigating the new website is simpler and more intuitive. Our Affiliate site is bilingual and will carry copies of both newsletters, Not So Far Afield and No Tan Lejos del Horizonte, on both the English and Spanish home pages.
In early November, I participated in the Latin American Maryknoll Society’s Regional Assembly and Retreat. Also invited were Sr. Jane Buellesbach, representing the Maryknoll Sisters, and Sam Stanton and Fr. Bill Voss for the Lay Missioners. It was an especially positive meeting wherein Maryknoll hospitality, genuine collaboration and easy, unadorned camaraderie were manifestly present every day. We can’t know for sure if this was a foretaste of things to come within Maryknoll, but it was very encouraging.