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.
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You may also download PDF versions of Not So Far Afield here.
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.
In Seattle, Fr. Tom Marti, MM, and Anna Clarke Johnson,
Team Leader for the Western Region,
Maryknoll US Mission Education
Connections. The Seattle Chapter makes a point of maintaining contacts with missioners in the field and contributing to mission efforts. Ralph Maughan (Western Region Co-coordinator) will be connecting with Br. Tim Raible, MM, and Br. John Beeching, MM, in Bangkok, Thailand, in early 2017. For many years, Br. Tim was assigned to mission promotion from the Seattle Maryknoll House, where the Seattle Chapter meets.
On their way to visit family, Affiliate Board Chair David Schaffner and his wife, NSFA co-editor Paula, enjoyed a newsy lunch with California Regional Coordinators Hugh and Jean Menton and other Los Angeles Chapter Affiliates. Kathee Bautista is working on a human trafficking project, and Richard Perez talked of his long-time ties to Maryknoll.
The Sierra Club has revived its midwinter, midnight walk among the homeless of Skid Row, and many LA Chapter members plan to join them. As a new member of the Los Angeles Chapter, Jean Minton had written about the walk in the March/April 2013 NSFA article, “LA – Sierra Club Skid Row Walk,” p. 5.
A review of Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right, by Arlie Russell Hochschild, The New Press, New York, 2016.
For the last five years, Arlie Russell Hochschild, a sociology professor from Berkeley, listened to, observed, and became friends with the people in the Louisiana bayou—Tea Party country. Her sociological study provides insight into the almost inevitable election of Trump. In her words, the political climate was “like a pile of dry kindling waiting for a spark to ignite it.” Hochschild’s stories flesh out her exhaustive study of the Louisiana bayou people who live in a very petrochemically polluted, poverty-riddled area.
We may feel really good living in our little isolated bubble. But there are many bubbles, large and small. How big is our family? We feel good when we are within our bubble, but Professor Hochschild’s study asks us to go outside our comfort bubble and be with others.
Strangers in Our Own Land speaks to a missioner’s approach when entering another culture. Quoting Max Warren, of The Church of Ireland Missionary Society, “Our first task in approaching another culture, another religion, is to take off our shoes, for the place we are approaching is holy. Else we may find ourselves treading on other peoples dreams. More serious still, we may forget that God was here before our arrival.”
Fr. Russ Feldmeier, MM, is on the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers’ General Council and represents the Society on the Affiliate Board. He reminisced that in 1992, as the Affiliates were forming, he was named to the Affiliate Board, even before there was an Affiliate on the Board! After many years on mission in Korea, he has returned for visits. In 2015, Fr. Russ was able to be present at the Covenant signing of the Korean Affiliate Chapter.
Were you associated with the Maryknoll Affiliates 25 years ago? We’d like to share your reminiscences during our year of celebration!
If your copy of the appeal letter has disappeared, it is available here: Appeal Letter - 2017
The last day to sign up is January 7. See Book Club Session 2 SIGN UP SHEET
As a powerful way to start the new year, consider taking Pax Christi’s vow of nonviolence, available at: https://paxchristiusa.org/resources/vow-of-nonviolence/
The Mission Institute will offer a dozen programs during 2017, beginning with the following:
May 7-12 Michael Morwood, MA
(Sun – Fri) Whatever Happened to Jesus?
May 14-19 Barbara Fiand, SNDdeN, PhD
(Sun – Fri) Come, Drink Deep of Living Waters
May 21-26 Edwina Gateley, MA
(Sun – Fri) Mystics, Rebels, Prophets and You!
June 4-9 Janet K. Ruffing, RSM, PhD
(Sun – Tue) Nature and Poetry as Openings to the Mystical
June 11-16 Gail Worcelo, CP, MA
(Sun – Fri) Momentum of Grace: The Deepening of Being in a World of Becoming
June 18-23 Elias Omondi Opongo, SJ, PhD
(Sun – Fri) Structures of Sin and Personal Conversion Towards Social Transformation
The complete 2017 schedule is available at https://maryknollsisters.org/maryknoll-mission-institute-2/.
You may register online, or to obtain application forms—
Write: Maryknoll Mission Institute
P.O Box 311
Maryknoll, NY 10545-0311
There are times when all we can do is walk with someone in need. There may be nothing we can do, nothing we can change, but we can be there.
Especially after the rancorous US political campaign, we Affiliates must be there. We can reemphasize our mission, our counter-cultural, intercultural eagerness to walk with our brothers and sisters, and with the earth.
In this issue we see many facets of accompaniment:
Working for Change – "The idea is for organizations to be accountable for their work by assuring that their projects create real change in the lives of people..." – Fred Goddard
¡Buen Vivir! – "LIFE is a gift from God that we must care for and defend every day of our existence; we respect and enjoy being happy and making others happy. " – Claudia Samayoa
State of the Heart—Fall 2016 Board Meeting – "In my short time as Board chair, it is clear to me that it takes a small village to keep the Affiliate Committee
Korean Affiliates Share News – "I want to keep in touch and let other Affiliates know what we are doing."
Read, Discuss, Grow! – "We’re looking forward to the second Maryknoll Affiliate Book Group, which begins in January."
Tisquantum: A New Tale from the Old World – "Our remembrance of Thanksgiving is upside down." – David Stocker
"Walking Each Other Back Home: Mission As Accompaniment" – "...a day center for the homeless in New Orleans can be a mission when folks get to know the homeless while they provide them service." – Matt Rousso
What Happened at the Southern Region Conference—A Deeper Look – "... it was clear from the start that we were connected by and committed to the Maryknoll charism of accompanying those who have little or no voice in our clamorous, disjointed world." – Bob Short
Mission Is about Walking Each Other Home – "I have often been moved when I realize this is how God in Jesus has been with me all during my life —slowly and lovingly walking me home."
Long-Distance Accompaniment – "...Mwanza Affiliates sent colorful cloth bags from one of their women’s projects..."
Building Abrahamic Partnerships – "The highlight for me was a small group experience led by a Jewish rabbi, a Muslim woman, and a United Church of Christ woman minister." – Dan Heuer
Call for Nominations – "Are you dedicated to serving the Affiliate movement and committed to building a strong and sustainable organization? " – Mary Massaro
Coming Soon to Your Mailbox! – "Working together we can do it!"
A blessing: The Gift of Enough
A book review: Just Water - A Right to Life Issue
To view this issue in its print form, download the November/December 2016 PDF.