The Guatemala Chapter of Maryknoll Affiliates
Is very thankful for the commitment, love and expressions of solidarity from the Maryknoll family during the current crisis and resulting consequences from the volcano. Your thoughtful concern for our brothers and sisters brought to mind Jesus’ words: “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these, you did for me.” (Mt. 25, 40)
We formed the Fire Volcano Committee that will study which project will best bring a sense of dignity to those who are most vulnerable. The donations sent by you will make possible the relocation of many people who have lost their homes. Once we determine the specifics of the project, we will be in communication about the process from beginning to end.
Your solidarity keeps alive our HOPE!
Below is a letter, slightly abridged, from Julio Martinez, nephew of Robert Ellsberg, publisher of Orbis Books. Kitty Madden provided the initial paragraph in italics.
As a Maryknoll Affiliate who has been living and working in Matagalpa, Nicaragua for the past 32+years (3 of those years as a Maryknoll Lay Missioner), I totally concur with Julio’s letter of concern and am grateful for the careful documentation he provides as a way of helping to educate the Maryknoll community about the desperate situation of Nicaraguans today. Please also keep us in your daily prayers. (Kitty Madden)
As mentioned on the phone, the situation in Nicaragua hasn’t improved over the past 2 months, and the latest death toll has reached 285 since April 18th. I won’t describe the circumstances much, since you’ll read that in the articles, but I’ll at least mention that these deaths have occurred almost exclusively among unarmed protesters who were met by heavily-armed government forces.
While international press seems to be reporting fairly, we are seeing an unexpected response from progressive groups with historical ties to the Sandinista Party (because of what this party used to be during the 1980s), some of which go as far as touting government talking points and blaming the situation on a right-wing, CIA-funded campaign, rather than a popular uprising against government authoritarianism. This has us in Nicaragua very worried since the situation seems to be getting worse, and it is important for this government to be isolated internationally if it is expected to back down. This is why I was hoping that I could ask you for help. An important objective now is to get as many international progressive groups as possible, especially those that have historical ties to the Sandinista party, to denounce this government repression in Nicaragua, and where applicable, publicly cut ties with the party. If any of you had ties to these kinds of groups, and could help me get this message to them, i would be extremely grateful. I could facilitate any information that they would need in order to clarify, including getting them in touch with former Sandinista leaders (virtually all of whom are now against the regime) if that would help.
Please let me know if you would have any comments or questions and thank you so much for your help.
The Atlantic: The Unraveling of Nicaragua (June 6)
Amnesty International: Shoot to Kill: NICARAGUA’S STRATEGY TO REPRESS PROTESTS. (May 29)
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.
Rudy Cypser, an extraordinarily gifted visionary and longtime Maryknoll Affiliate, passed on to New Life in February. He was 94 years old and is survived by Betty, his wife for seventy years. Together they led extraordinary lives of service to others. They were passionate in promoting restorative justice policies in many prison systems throughout the world, and they directly impacted the lives of many in prisons.
Rudy understood complex problems on many levels and then developed effective approaches to improve human service systems. He and Betty conducted bible study groups in prisons for 30 years and also conducted Alternatives to Violence training for inmates for many years. Rudy, working together with others, spread the Alternatives to Violence program to sixty countries in the world. He was deeply motivated by compassion for others and by his Christian faith in the goodness of the human person.
Rudy and Betty traveled to 26 countries in Asia and Europe and studied prison systems in Canada on a quest to learn about restorative justice programs in those countries. Then they took on an advisory role with a Committee of the Catholic Bishops of New York State and were effective in assisting the bishops in bringing about improvements in New York prisons.
This year is the 50th Anniversary of the Campaign started by Martin Luther King, Jr. and thousands of Americans, alarmed at their government’s blindness to human need. As his Poor People marched, Dr. King paused to answer a plea for support from sanitation workers on strike in Memphis. There an assassin snatched his life on April 4th. Dr. King was assassinated before the March, but others took the lead. Now a new campaign continues his legacy.
The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival
is uniting tens of thousands of people across the country to challenge the evils of systemic racism, poverty, the war economy, ecological devastation and the nation’s distorted morality.
Campaign Nonviolence, Sojourners Magazine, and Richard Rohr’s Center for Action and Contemplation have all endorsed and joined with it.