News from and about Maryknoll Affiliate Chapters
"First do what is necessary. Then do what is possible and the impossible will happen" Francis of Assisi
Its a long way to Tombo, Tanzania home of Sr. Margaret Mkenda, Maryknoll Sister in Bolivia. Today we are celebrating with her as she is making her final vows as a sister.
Dear Family and Friends
“If you don’t see me at the back of the bus, and you can’t find me nowhere…come on over to the front of the bus. I’ll be riding up there. I’ll be riding up there. I’ll be riding up there. Come on over to the front of the bus, I’ll be riding up there.”
We are in Chipole, sleeping in a small room with a bed and a bathroom surrounded by about 52 orphans. Some are very young and many in pre-school and first grade. Can you imagine 25 two and three year olds and one teacher for a whole morning. I’ve been helping in this pre-pre- school and Kitty and Judy hold babies and help in the nursery. In the afternoon we teach reading and math to the first grade. They know their sounds and are a pleasure to teach. They bring hope to Tanzania with their eagerness to learn.
I was fortunate on Mondays in June and July to be able to “shadow” various field workers in a Maryknoll program called Little Folks. Little Folks are the children without HIV/AIDS, but who have a family member who does have the virus. Often one or both parents, and perhaps siblings, are infected. The whole family however is affected by the ramifications of the virus. Parents often are too sick to work or care for the children, or die before the child is grown up. These children receive financial assistance for school fees and for extra nutrition, have available supplemental education classes and are visited every other week by their fieldworker. These dedicated men/ women check up on all areas of the child’s life and are supportive to the parent/aunt/grandparent/foster parent – whoever cares for the child. As education is given to families and the community regarding HIV, there is less stigmatization, and the schools are more easily taking these children into the classrooms now compared to five years ago. Occasionally assistance is given to other family members or close friends.
We had a very informative day at the St. Joseph Center in Orange. There were quite a number of parishes from several dioceses in So. Cal. present at the Pax Christi Assembly Day. Maryknoll was well represented: Sister Kathryn, Irma, Tim, Veronica, Sister Marge, Sister Kathleen and myself.
We set out to visit with the contact persons and members of five northern and Central California Affiliate Groups. Our agenda:
You were wearing a bright pink outfit. Your little body was burning up with fever. I even used pink washcloths as cool compresses to soothe you.
Baby powder, a clean diaper and a brand new white smock now cover your little body. I have dressed you in your burial clothes.
You were so sick that your parents brought you here to the Sisters and left you. They did not stay with you, nor did they ever return.
An event of this size, including eight presenters, six meals, five spirituality segments and seven, or more, additional activities started Friday evening, September 11, and concluded with Sunday lunch, September 13. Clearly, this event can only be experienced, in a way appropriate for regional gathering on Maryknoll Affiliates, by a team of amazing leaders. That is exactly what we in the Chicago area were gifted, not only on these conference days, but also for the prior eight months in planning, reorganizing, throwing out, restating, expanding, contracting and many other stages of the bewildering conference planning and execution. The people participating in these creative stages with me were Celine Woznica, Dan Driscoll-Shaw, Liz Lebron from the Chicago Central chapter, Father Carl Meulemans MM from the Appleton Wisconsin Chapter and Fred Goddard the Affiliate Executive Coordinator. This path to success was often not clear.
However, the experience of fulfillment during and after the conference seems clear, to me, as an outpouring of gifts from our Creator-Savior-Provider.
If memory serves me correctly, there was a point in a childhood game that told you “go directly to Jail, do not pass Go, do not collect $200….” I have not had any messages about the money, and can’t recall why I needed to pass Go. ! Today however, I do need to go directly to the jail…do not know exactly where it is and thus had to look it up on Mapquest…..Fortunately I shall not be an inmate, just inquiring about a friend who is there as one.
As I understand the arrangements, his memorial mass is Tuesday evening at St. Alsphonse Rock Church. Check the Catholic Charities message for details.
Whenever we mourn the loss of someone whose values are admirable, we have a legacy to take with us in this life: continuing the cause of peace in this case, and making that vision clear and urgent and possible for all the people we know. In following Jim's example, I urge you to share the Insitute for Peace and Justice website and teaching materials with others, especially kids. He and Kathy did a great job of making the cause of peace something that kids can work on in very real ways in daily life. May that work continue.
Perhaps others in our chapter have memories of Jim to share as well. May God grant him eternal rest, comfort his family, and keep the cause of peace alive in our lives and work.
When I left the Missionaries of Charity on Monday, July 20th..I asked the superior, Sr. Genova if I could bring anything back from the states when I returned next week. Was there anything they wanted or needed? Sister mentioned diapers but that would take up a lot of space in my two bags...Then she mentioned an electric machine for the oxygen...I'd see what I could do even though I was not quite sure just what I was looking for.
As we near the end I realize that I only have 19 rosaries and there are twenty coffins. I ask Father Rick to wait a minute while I go back to the truck to get mine that are always either in my purse, my pocket or my bed. He says "Aren't they good one?" I joyfully reply "yes" all the more reason for me to want to place them with the last body. Thank You, Lord for that special opportunity . Someone lights a match and I recall that the last song I played before I left for Haiti was CHRIST BE OUR LIGHT. I start to sing it and Father Rick joins me. Oh what an honor for me to be able to share this task with this holy priest. Thank You, Lord. Please bless him over and over again.
Thursday morning ......up early thanks to the roosters, squealing pigs, barking dogs, shrieking cat, and always the sound of the babies crying.. ...oh how I wish I could pick them up and hold them close. Mass was at 6am with Fr. Tom...he talks about give us this day our daily bread and comments that sometimes it might be really good French bread, but often times it is an old dried out crust with a few bugs on it...yet it is what we need to sustain us for the day, not excess, so there it is!
From 8:15am until 11:35am
These were the most unusual three hours and twenty minutes that I have ever spent. Father Rick pulled up with a pick up truck filled with coffins to the Visa Lodge Hotel where I was staying. I am sure that it was a most unusual sight for other guests. I climbed into the truck and we went through the streets of Port-au-Prince to the general hospital's morgue! The first thing we witnessed as we pulled up into the hospital's property was a wheelchair being pushed across the yard. It looked like just a bunch of blankets piled on it but upon closer inspection we saw about four pair of tiny legs hanging down. Father Rick picked up the blanket and we saw another baby. These had all died during the night. He blessed them and we proceeded to the morgue area to perform our task of love. As we started to unload the coffins, Father Rick cautions me to watch where I place it,...make sure it is a dry spot, for the area where we are standing has a nearby puddle filled with blood and water. I immediately think of blood and water pouring out of Jesus's body on the cross.
Last March 7, Maryknoll Affiliates in Florida tabled at the Leaven Conference once again. The 15th annual Leaven Conference was at Our Lady of Light Parish in Estero. The theme was “Hunger – A Faith-filled Response.” Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, archbishop of Milwaukee and chairman of Catholic Relief Services, delivered the keynote address.
Bishop Frank Dewane of Diocese of Venice, Florida visited the Maryknoll Affiliate exhibit during the Leaven Conference in Fort Myers, Florida