Change is good news, and possibly bad news. We rejoice with the native peoples who are standing up to protect the water. We are inspired by a Guatemalan Affiliate who received national recognition for her work for human rights. We are excited by Pope Francis’s recent message on nonviolence. But we are also concerned to see a backlash against reforms and programs that some may feel have threatened them and their needs. We regret the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II and fear the current threats against refugees and immigrants. We agonize about the escalating conflicts that we seem to have no control over.
David vs. Goliath: Competing at Standing Rock – "It is a learning experience for me—a white middle class man used to organizing, to be in the minority; to be quiet, to follow, to listen." – Kyle Chandler-Isacksen
MAC 2017 Update – January/February 2017 – Forms for registration and many more conference details will be available soon.
Retreat at Watch Hill – " 'The Wine Never Runs Out' ... drawing on the Biblical promise of the fullness of life and the symbolism of nuptial radiance." – Bob Short
Claudia Samayoa Speaks – "I have faced the powers that do not want to change, not with aggression but with respect." – Claudia Samayoa
Nonviolence 2017 – "Nonviolence is sometimes taken to mean surrender, lack of involvement and passivity, but this is not the case." – Pope Francis
Days of Infamy: 75th Anniversary – The woman had said, ”Maryknoll gave me a home when I needed one, so now I will give them my house.”
Learning About Immigration and Refugees – ...they are planning an evening presentation on these topics with the hope that the parish may sponsor a refugee family.
Table Talk – "It is difficult, as one grows older, to make new relationships, and yet it is necessary ..." – Kris Neufeld
Virtual Coincidence – Since the first virtual chapter attempts will be considered pilot projects, there is still a great deal of flexibility.
Seattle Chapter: Working Together – For fun, the Seattle Affiliates helped decorate the Seattle Maryknoll House in preparation for the Maryknoll Christmas party.
Connecting in Claremont – The Sierra Club has revived its midwinter, midnight walk among the homeless of Skid Row ...
A celebration of Maryknoll Affiliates' 25 years: 25 Years Ago
A book review: Living in Bubbles
A place to learn: Maryknoll Mission Institute 2017
A few announcements: January/February 2017
To view this issue in its print form, download the January/February 2017 PDF.
The Chandler–Isacksens run the Be the Change Project in Reno, Nevada. They live in voluntary poverty, grow lots of food, serve in their community, are war-tax resistors, and attempt to live their lives in alignment with their values. They attend the Reno Friends Meeting and have frequent contact with the Reno Affiliates. (See two previous articles in the NSFA: July/Aug 2015, p. 5, and Sept/Oct 2014, p. 6.)
We reached the Dakota Access Pipe Line construction site at about noon on September 27th. This was an hour after prayers and reminders from native leaders at the frontline camp and after driving 30 dusty miles over empty North Dakota back roads. The front line camp is just a mile up from the large Oceti Sakowin camp, home to a couple thousand people while we were there. “We have many warriors with us today who will protect the elders, the women, the children. Remember, this is a nonviolent action.”
One hundred packed vehicles made it to the action that day: overflowing pickup trucks with masked youth from the Red Warrior camp (those willing to get arrested and in it for the long-haul) sitting alongside gray-haired elders holding signs that say “Protect the Water,” horse trailers with horses, license plates from across the country, our family in a rental car getting dustier by the mile.
MAC 2017: The international Maryknoll Affiliate Conference to be held from November 9-12, 2017, at a retreat center outside Guatemala City
Registration. Forms for registration and many more conference details will be available soon. The Conference Committee—members of the Guatemala Chapter—are putting the final touches on their conference website and expect to have it up and running by the third week in January. Watch your Monday Morning Website Update emails for an announcement of its opening date.
Conference Fee and Travel Grants. To encourage representation from as many as possible of the over 50 Affiliate Chapters worldwide, the Maryknoll Affiliate Board is again offering Conference Fee and Travel Grants for MAC 2017. Because funds are limited, applicants should first explore and consider all possible funding sources. For example, their chapters might help with either funds or frequent flyer miles. In 2014, over 15 attendees benefited from grant assistance; we hope that as many or more will be assisted through the 2017 program.
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.”
Translated and condensed from No Tan Lejos del Horizonte Special Edition, November 2016.
On November 3, 2016, Claudia Samayoa, a Maryknoll Affiliate of the Guatemala Chapter, received the Myrna Mack Chang Order from Human Rights Ombudsman Jorge De León Duque on November 3, 2016. He established the Order in 2014 to honor Myrna Mack Chang, a Guatemalan anthropologist murdered by Guatemalan military forces for her investigative work and commitment to the population displaced by the Internal Armed Conflict in Guatemala.
Recognizing Claudia as an activist who raises her voice to defend the human rights of Guatemalans, Duque praised Claudia’s concern for her fellow man and her placing her academic training at the service of the cause of human rights. He said, “Today is an auspicious day to deliver this recognition because attacks on human rights defenders have increased. And today there is also an inappropriate use of criminal law to imprison defenders. Being a human rights advocate is a high-risk job.”
Human rights have always been part of my being. I had a problem with the dogma that only Christians are saved; If God created us all equal in dignity, we should all be recognized as equal and respected. I did not accept the terrible reality in which I grew up: the exiles of my parents’ friends, the murders of doctors known to my father, images of massacres collected in Amnesty International magazines and surreptitiously shared with my father by the priest of Chimaltenango.
Nonviolence is the theme of Pope Francis’s Peace Message.
Pope Francis recognized the 50th annual World Peace Day, January 1, by sending us the first Catholic document on nonviolence, entitled: Nonviolence: a Style of Politics for Peace.
Francis’s concise and readable seven-page message has sections on:
Find Pope Francis’s document on nonviolence at Vatican.va or with additional resources at usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/war-and-peace/world-day-of-peace.cfm .
More than 120,000 people of Japanese descent were infamously rounded up and sent to Internment Centers in various western states, by Executive Order from the President, February 19, 1942, 75 years ago.
Immediately after Pearl Harbor, Seattle’s Japanese community found a staunch supporter in Bishop Gerald Shaughnessy. In a pastoral letter read in every church in the diocese on December 14, 1941, the bishop called for a whole-hearted support of the war effort—and of people of Japanese descent: “Our Catholic heritage especially inculcates upon us in these momentous hours that we embrace our fellow American citizens of Japanese extraction in a special bond of charity.” (See www.stjames-cathedral.org/history/holythings/18maryknoll.aspx )
Marie Wren, of The San Francisco /North Bay Chapter, shared that in past years their chapter has organized presentations at the parish where they meet. These included a three-part series on Catholic social teaching, and a “Meet Maryknoll” evening. Other parishes in the diocese and schools and colleges were invited.
For 2017, the chapter members are educating themselves regarding immigration and refugees, and they are planning an evening presentation on these topics with the hope that the parish may sponsor a refugee family.
The Maryknoll Affiliate Board has been investigating and has approved having virtual chapters. Some Affiliates, like Kris Neufeld (see her article, "Table Talk,"), have moved away from their original chapter and have not found a similar community in their new homes. Other folks, strong Maryknoll and social justice supporters, may not have a chapter in their geographic area. Virtual chapters could help unite them to each other and to other Affiliate Chapters.
Since the first virtual chapter attempts will be considered pilot projects, there is still a great deal of flexibility. Contact Bob Short at rshort@maryknollaffiliates if you have ideas, want to be involved, or to get more information.
One of my favorite books is Kitchen Table Wisdom, by Rachel Naomi Remen, a medical doctor who, as she puts it, listens to people’s stories. She writes, “Everybody is a story. When I was a child, people sat around kitchen tables and told their stories. We don’t do that so much anymore. Sitting around the table telling stories is not just a way of passing time. It is the way the wisdom gets passed along. The stuff that helps us to live a life worth remembering… Real stories take time. We stopped telling stories when we started to lose that sort of time, pausing time, reflecting time, wondering time.”
I am now in a new life phase. In the last three years, I have moved that many times, including a frustrating eight months in a furnished house which was intended to be a 2-3-month stop between selling my house and moving back to Minnesota. I sat on furniture and slept in a bed that weren’t mine, surrounded by cardboard boxes that contained the familiar things of my past life. What had been intended as a short-term fix turned into an isolating, frustrating year.
Now I live in what will likely be my last home—a small rental cottage in a senior community in Rochester, NY. It is a city where I know a few people and where I hope to be able to pay the rent if I happen to live as long as my ancestors. However, it is an additional two hours away from old friends in the New Jersey Affiliate Chapter, whom I have tried to see once a year for the last 15 years, and six to seven hours away from happenings at Maryknoll.
So, in many ways it feels like my “telling-stories-time” is on the back burner, but not because I don’t have the “pausing time, the reflecting time, the wondering time” of which Remen writes. The task now is to seek like-minded people who are willing to sit around kitchen tables to tell me their stories and to listen to mine.
It is difficult, as one grows older, to make new relationships, and yet it is necessary, given the steady loss and erosion of long-time friends whose stories I knew so well and whose lives had intersected with mine for so many years.
These are some of my musings when I read in NSFA that Affiliates have been discussing a book they have read in common. I must confess this doesn’t hold much appeal for me. A virtual community, however, could be another matter—a sharing with others of my clumsy attempts to integrate into a new space and a new and confusing city, and of my attempts to be of service to others in a new way. I might like to tell them about my four Syrian women refugees who speak only enough English to respond to “What is your name?” (How I hope, someday, to listen to their stories!) And I’d like to hear others’ stories about how they continue to find ways to feel, and be, relevant—not just as a person but particularly as an older Affiliate.