Not So Far Afield is a bimonthly publication of the Maryknoll Affiliates. The name is a play on the title of the original Maryknoll Magazine: The Field Afar.
You may subscribe to Not So Far Afield by email or to be notified when it is posted on our website.
You may also download PDF versions of Not So Far Afield here.
A big part of my work is helping people process and relate to encounters with social and economic inequality, and to do so with the intentionality necessary to develop nuanced, respectful responses that engender authentic solidarity. This requires my own continued examination of common reactions by privileged people to encounters with people in more marginalized positions, and to develop intentional language to preempt, challenge, and reframe those reactions.
In that vein, I’ve been thinking a lot about the all too common takeaway, “They’re poor, but they’re joyful.” I’m not unique in feeling that this language is problematic (to paraphrase Paul Farmer in regard to impoverished Haitians: they may have nice smiles and good senses of humor, but they still know they’re living in desperate conditions). But I am finding it necessary to more thoughtfully reflect on what accounts for this reaction, what truths are present within it, and, more importantly, why we need to challenge others (and ourselves) to think and speak differently.
If you attended MAC 2017 in Guatemala, you will enjoy reading about the Greater Los Angeles Maryknoll Affiliates Chapter’s recent visitors. We learned that Daniel Caño, the Mayan spiritual guide who presented about Mayan spirituality and led a ceremony at the MAC, would be in the Los Angeles area in February, and after much communication, Tim Moffett, Sr. Kathleen Shannon, Kathee Bautista, and I, and a few others, spent an afternoon with Daniel Caño, his wife Teresa, and his sister-in-law Ana.
We gathered at Olvera Street, the location of the early Mexican founders of Los Angeles. After walking among the various booths, we returned Daniel’s hospitality to those of us at MAC with an enjoyable, tasty lunch at an Olvera Street restaurant. Over lunch we had rich conversation with Daniel, Teresa, and Ana about Mayan spiritual practice.
After lunch, some of us took Daniel and Teresa to Our Lady Queen of the Angels Cathedral, a few blocks away. We enjoyed the tapestries of John Nava and saw an exhibit of Catholic high school students’ artwork in a variety of mediums. We were all impressed that those young people had produced such interesting art. Daniel had his camera with him and took photos throughout the day.
Kimberly and Andres helped with translations. Kimberly Nuvem Bautista, who is bilingual, has lived in Guatemala, and Andres Garcia is an intern at the nearby Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers LA office. Daniel and Teresa thanked us frequently. The Caños’ connection with Los Angeles continued as Kimberly, who has friends who are spiritual leaders from indigenous traditions in Mexico, prepared dinner for Daniel and Teresa and her friends.
Revive your spirit of Buen Vivir by getting together:
Earth Day is Sunday, April 22.
We’re raising a united Catholic voice to make the most of this moment. The Global Catholic Climate Movement (GCCM) is creating a complete resource kit for Earth Day to help your community celebrate, advocate, and educate for creation. The kit ncludes:
Register now (http://catholicclimatemovement.global/earth-day-2018/) to receive GCCM Earth Day updates, first-look materials, and more.
Last November Pope Francis pointed out four perverse attitudes to avoid. First denial and indifference, but also resignation—that temptation to decide some of what is needed is impractical or not possible—and trust in inadequate solutions!
Laudato Si 165 says we must shift off of fossil fuels without delay, in our electricity/utilities and transportation. Now it’s time for moral action inspired by Pope Francis, Maryknollers, and the Global Catholic Climate Movement. Come Holy Spirit!
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” —Mary Oliver
My wife, Jane, and I joined 21 Maryknoll jubilarians, who were marking 65th, 60th, 50th, or 40th anniversaries of ordination last June. The two-day celebration involved small gatherings of families and friends, as well as a huge and colorful liturgy in the chapel. Representatives of the four Maryknoll expressions—the Society, Congregation, Lay Missioners, and Affiliates—attended, and the chapel’s walls and windows reverberated with the sounds of brass horns, basses, and drums in full accompaniment.
After filling up on the spirit in the liturgy, we feasted on that special Maryknoll hospitality, a picnic with no end to the variety and quantity of food. People may not live by bread alone, but food is a good place to start.
Ask and you shall receive.
1. Read through this whole Easy Meeting. If your chapter is exploring a particular issue or concept, you could substitute your own issue.
2. Plan to have a practice run at the beginning of your meeting, asking questions on a general interest concept or issue.
3. Decide who will read the prayers and who will lead the discussions.
4. Have available some large pieces of paper and markers to record the group’s questions, and paper and pens for individual use.
5. If you wish, you may download a pdf of the print version of this meeting plan at:
Ask and it will be given you; search and you will find; knock and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks, receives, and everyone who searched finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Matthew 7:7-8
This Easy Meeting will use questions to help your chapter explore and unpack two issues or concepts. First practice the questioning process.
Hawaiian Maryknoll Affiliate Patti Shannon emphasized: “We need to be bringing more young folks into our Maryknoll Affiliate Movement. They are our future.” Others added that the Affiliates need to reconnect the students of the Maryknoll School in Honolulu to their Maryknoll roots.
Hawaiian Maryknoll Affiliate Roseyn Devlin showed visitors Mary Ryan-Hotchkiss and Manny Hotchkiss the Maryknoll School in Honolulu, Hawaii, where she served as librarian for 22 years before retiring. Maryknoll School graduate Yvonne Morris was happy to talk about the school. Yvonne, who works with the Maryknoll Foundation which supports the Maryknoll School, emphasized that the school is “a loving place. That’s what the Maryknoll Sisters taught us.” The school’s motto is Noblesse Oblige: To whom much is given, much is expected. Yvonne said the Maryknoll Sisters taught them this responsibility by their example: after teaching all day, the sisters went out to help others.
Hitchhiking across the country in his twenties, Sebastian Unger, author of Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging, carried a tent, sleeping bag, cookpots and stove, and a week’s worth of food. As he waited on the highway, a dirty, wild-haired man walked up the ramp and studied him. “Where you headed?” he asked. “California.” “How much food you got?” Nervous and afraid of being robbed, Unger lied. “Oh, I just got a little cheese.” The man shook his head and said, “You need more than that to get to California.”
He said he lived in a broken-down car and every morning walked three miles to a coal mine to see if they needed fill-in work. This was one of the many days that they didn’t. “So, I won’t be needing this,” he said, opening his lunch box. “I saw you from town and just wanted to make sure you were okay.” With that he gave him a bologna sandwich, apple, and bag of chips, probably from a local church.
What kept Unger thinking about this all his life was not that the man had been generous; many people are. But that this fellow had walked half a mile out of his way to make sure he was okay. He had treated the hitchhiking stranger like a member of his tribe.
A minor victory cheered the more than 30 supporters attending William Gonzalez’s hearing at the Portland Courthouse this January. Some feared that the president’s removal of Temporary Protected Status for Salvadorans who came to the US decades ago might already be impacting people in our community.
William, a permanent resident, came to the US 38 years ago as a 12-year-old, with his mother who was granted asylum because of threats against her life in El Salvador. He has been harassed by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) since he applied for citizenship. In 2017, ICE required him to wear an ankle bracelet though he has not been a flight or security risk and has only had one DUI infraction since about 2001. William has worked 10-12 years as a cook at the famous Benson Hotel and has been involved in the union. He says the bracelet has to be recharged about every 8 hours, making it hard to get a full night’s sleep. Sometimes ICE can’t detect its signal from the basement kitchen where he works. When ICE can’t detect it, they can come to his house to question him.
William and his lawyers said the support of 40 letters and over 30 people at the hearing positively influenced the judge who ruled that the bracelet was to be removed and the harassing visits to William’s home to stop. William still had to pay a bond and further hearings will determine his immigration status.
People at the hearing were from The Immigrant Support Network, Interfaith Movement for Immigrant Justice (IMIrJ), ACLU, Havra Shalom Jewish congregation, Quakers, the Benson Hotel, and Unitarian and other churches. A representative from IMIrJ said it’s gratifying to see so many people at the hearing, but what is really needed is passage of compassionate Immigration Reform and the Real Dream Act.
Our fourth Book Group session will begin soon after Easter. We need your help to determine good times to meet and to select a book to read and discuss. The committee has come up with four possible titles:
• Faith in the Face of Empire
• A Sense of Wonder
• Thomas Berry, Selected Writings
• Flannery O’Connor, Spiritual Writings
If our telephone book group doesn’t work for you, an alternative is available. Robert Ellsberg, Orbis Books publisher, has recently announced:
For those who enjoy Orbis books, and look forward to the type of spiritual and theological engagement reflected in this month’s new titles, we invite you to join our new Orbis Book Club.
Next month we’ll be launching this new reading club on our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/orbisbooks), beginning with Jim Forest’s acclaimed work, At Play in the Lions’ Den: A Memoir and Biography of Daniel Berrigan.Members will receive a discount and an opportunity to interact with the author and other readers. Help us spread the word!
Most Maryknoll Affiliates know that our organization began in 1991 under the guidance of Fr. Jim Madden, MM, and Sr. Ellen McDonald, MM. However, members may not really know or fully appreciate how the founders’ vision for its growth and future influenced the formation of the Affiliates Movement.
On June 28, 2000, Mary J. Murphy, Westchester Chapter, conducted and taped an interview with Fr. Jim and Sr. Ellen at the Maryknoll Center in Ossining, New York. It provided a forum for them to discuss the Affiliate Movement from their unique perspective; they were specifically asked to discuss the concept behind its formation, their hopes/vision for the organization, and their reflections on the Affiliates’ development to that point. The interview was captured as a video entitled, “The Early Moments,” with Fr. Jim Madden and Sr. Ellen McDonald.
Our Albany Chapter first viewed this video in 2011 when we decided to review the history of the Affiliates Movement and the Four Pillars. Since 2011, we have added several new members, and so we decided to review the history and the pillars again. After much searching, we were able to find and to view the video at our January meeting; we were pleased by our members’ reactions. The general consensus was that this film is a valuable piece of Maryknoll Affiliate history, especially in light of the passing of Fr. Jim in 2014. Our members thought that the film was inspiring, moving, and heart-warming. The abounding joy, love, and enthusiasm of Fr. Jim and Sr. Ellen for the Affiliates and for the Maryknoll charism were so clearly evident as they spoke. We hope that other Chapters will consider viewing this important piece of our Maryknoll Affiliate history.
A few months ago, the Affiliate Board asked Chapters to consider our future--where do we want the Affiliates to be in five years? Where do you think that we will actually be in five years? Viewing this interview may be extremely helpful and valuable to us as we contemplate our responses to those questions. Knowledge of our past and of the vision of the founders may serve as a beacon to guide our future course, to keep us true to their ideals, to keep us from straying too far afield of their intentions and dreams.
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).
Once again, the Maryknoll Sisters are offering a full slate of pertinent workshops. Does one of these topics offered in May-June have your name on it? Register soon to obtain a space. (A limited number of tuition scholarships are available.)
In this issue we have tried to transmit what transpired in Guatemala at the 2017 Maryknoll Affiliate Conference (MAC)—Harmony, Unity, Love—all that Maryknoll is to us. We hope that the Pillars of the Affiliate Movement: Spirituality, Community, Global Vision, and Action, will be reinvigorated in you as you travel through this issue with the Affiliates who visited various mission sites of the Sisters, Fathers and Brothers, Lay Missioners, and Affiliates in Guatemala and El Salvador after the Conference. Mission has planted many seeds. So much is coming to fruition. So much remains to be done. We hope to share in a later issue our visits to the sites of the Salvadoran martyrs, recognizing what mission can demand.
Articles in this issue:
From the Board:
To read the print version of this issue, download the January/February 2018 Not So far Afield here.