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.
Ten men clamber out of the creaking van,
Their sweaty bodies meeting a kiss
Of cool night air.
They drift, silently, sullenly
Toward the darkened church.
Mattresses lie, two or three to a room,
Along walls decorated with children’s
Drawings and almost casual crucifixions.
Carl, Eddie, Jake and the others
Throw their worn packs and bags
Onto the makeshift beds, and John,
It’s always John, is first to ask
If he can have his sack lunch now,
Not in the morning as we had planned.
“Sure,” I say, almost as anxious as he
To assuage this remediable hunger.
Several echo John, and soon all
Are feasting on pb and j; apples, celery,
And other healthy fare remains on the table,
But they’re happier now, even communicative.
One thanks me for setting a new pair of white socks
On each mattress. Another offers a juice cup
To a friend. “Lights out!” Rick calls at ten,
And no one argues, no one hesitates. Sleep
Knits once more the raveled sleeve of care,
Obliterates the hurt, soothes the jangled nerves.
Tomorrow will be another day,
Another cheerless day embroidered
With small triumphs, fragile dreams.
Every page of this book contains inspiring revelations about the Christian call to peace and nonviolence. The book’s key points are:
Rynne describes a theology based on the life and teachings of Jesus, one that puts the just war theory in its appropriate subordinate place. “Just war theorists too often engage when war is looming…blissfully unaware of the larger and broader task to cultivate a peaceful world.” Rynne quotes Pope Benedict XVI, who described nonviolence for Christians as “not a mere tactical behavior but a person’s way of being ... [a person] who is not afraid to confront evil with the weapons of love or truth alone.”
The book quotes ancient and modern writers and has an extensive bibliography and index. Jesus Christ Peacemaker would be ideal for a book club.
What issues should the Maryknoll Affiliate Board discuss? What actions do you recommend?
What do Laudato Si, BDS, and No to Gun Violence have in common? They are the nonviolent themes of some Campaign Nonviolence actions, Sept. 18 to 25, 2016. What issues in your community could you or your chapter address during the campaign? See hundreds of planned actions at http://www.paceebene.org/programs/campaign-nonviolence/campaign-nonviolence-week-of-actions/
on Nonviolence and Just Peace!
Saturday, September 24, 2016
The major presenter, Marie Dennis, Co-President of Pax Christi International, is a former director of the Maryknoll Office of Global Concerns. She helped to organize the recent Vatican Conference on Nonviolence and Peacemaking.
Sponsors include JustFaith local leadership, Intercommunity Peace and Justice Center (ipjc.org), local Pax Christi groups, and the Missions Office of the Archdiocese of Seattle.
It seems many people are accepting a negative political and international atmosphere that leads to fear, prejudice, and withdrawal. In contrast, several Affiliates have provided articles for this issue which highlight their efforts to move towards wholeness. Their positive ideas, advocating for peace and nonviolence, having environmental discussions, participating in interfaith groups, and performing service work are all in the direction of wholeness.
The Maryknoll Affiliate Book Group is reading Ilia Delio’s book which discusses wholemaking. In an article in this issue Lenore Smith-Aman asks, “Since we are connected to each other as Affiliates, how can we consciously and creatively work to transform the present political climate from extreme divisiveness to wholeness?”
Affiliates Work for Wholeness – "As people of faith and hope, imbued with the values of Maryknoll, what can we offer?"—Lenore Smith-Aman
Book Group Divides – "It’s exciting to have this opportunity to build community among far-flung Affiliates and other Maryknollers as well."—Paula Schaffner
Calls to Mission – "As a member of the Maryknoll Affiliate Leadership Board, I invite you to consider accepting our call to serve on the Board."—Mary Massaro
You’re All Invited – "For the first time ever, our global vision takes us outside the US for our international Maryknoll Affiliate Conference (MAC). "—Rosa Beatriz Castañeda de Larios
On the Sultan and the Saint – "There are no barriers except those we put up ourselves."—Penny Robinson
Spotlight on the Sacramento Chapter – "We do not have any one project that all of our members are involved in, but individuals participate in many ministries throughout Sacramento and the world."—Patty Symkowick
Albany Chapter Event – "On a pleasant May weekend, Affiliates from the Albany Chapter visited the Maryknoll Sisters in Ossining."
Laudato Si: Care for our Common Home—A Day of Reflection – "As an older person and a grandmother, a compelling question for me was, “What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us?”—Mary Moritz
A Mission of Accompaniment – "The theology of accompaniment doesn’t require any grandiosity."—Kris Neufeld
Are You a Teacher? – Southern Poverty Law Center surveyed approximately 2,000 teachers, asking them how the presidential campaign was affecting their students and their teaching.
Remembering Kerrigan: Priest, Poet, and Prophet – The Washington County, Oregon, Peace Vigil noted his passing and honors him by continuing his work for peace and nonviolence.
Calling All United States Christians – We hope that you will read the statement carefully and join those who have already signed their names.
Nonviolence Conference – Nonviolence and Just Peace, a new global initiative launched at the conference, reaffirms the centrality of active nonviolence to the vision and message of Jesus...
Notices – Conference, Guatemala Immersion Trip, and more!
South Central Region Affiliate Conference
New Orleans - September 30 to October 2, 2016
Registration for the upcoming Maryknoll Mission Immersion Program in Guatemala, October 9 - 17, closes on August 15th.
Check Guatemala Immersion for full information.
Has your chapter planned an action for Campaign Nonviolence week, September 18-25? In the past, several chapters have joined the hundreds of other groups around the world who take action nonviolently to abolish war, end poverty, reverse climate change, and challenge all violence. See http://www.paceebene.org/ for ideas or to find a local action to join.
The Mission Institute offers six-day programs (Sunday-Friday) May-October, 2016. Upcoming programs:
July 10-15 Robert Ellsberg, MA
Saints, Prophets and Witnesses for Our Time will challenge us to think more creatively about being faithful and active in our own historical context.
July 17-22 Maria Teresa Davila, PhD
Embodying the Option for the Poor explores the theological insights in the context from which the phrase sprang and in our current contexts.
July 24-29 John F. Haught, PhD
Religion and the Cosmic Story: A Look Inside studies the new framework for understanding our species’ ageless religious quest, in conversation with both Christian Theology and contemporary scientific naturalism.
Sept. 25-30 in Monrovia, CA and Oct. 3-6 in Los Altos, CA: Margaret Silf, MA
Living God’s Dream
Online registration is available, or write for forms:
Maryknoll Mission Institute, Maryknoll Sisters
P.O Box 311, Maryknoll, NY 10545-0311
Tel: 914-941-7575 @ 5671
Emusoi Center in Arusha, Tanzania (http://emusoicentre.co.tz/), founded by Sr. Mary Vertucci MM, continues to help Maasai girls get an education and delay marriage and child-bearing until they’re ready, but needs scholarships for fees and books for secondary school and college. Donations should be sent through the Maryknoll Sisters.
Caminando Por La Paz – Guatemala (http://www.caminandogua.org/) needs angels! $500/year or $50/month supports the education of one student. Angels receive periodic information from the student they sponsor. Your contributions in any amount will assist greatly in Caminando’s efforts to continue the wonderful work initiated by founder Father Thomas Goekler, MM.
An Appeal to the Catholic Church to Re-Commit to the Centrality of Gospel Nonviolence
The May–June 2016 issue of NewsNotes from the Maryknoll Office of Global Concerns (MOGC) contains the full statement affirmed by participants at the Nonviolence and Just Peace conference held in Rome, April 11-13, 2016. Working and planning for many months beforehand, Pax Christi International, the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, UISG/USG, and many other international Catholic organizations, including MOGC, co-convened the landmark conference on nonviolence and just peace in the Catholic tradition.
Maryknoll Sister Teresa Hougnon represented the Maryknoll Sisters’ African peace-building team. Her reflection on the conference, “Nonviolence and Just Peace: The way of Jesus,”* also appears in NewsNotes.
Nonviolence and Just Peace, a new global initiative launched at the conference, reaffirms the centrality of active nonviolence to the vision and message of Jesus, to the life of the Catholic Church, and to the long-term vocation of healing and reconciling both people and the planet.
The web site https://nonviolencejustpeace.net/ gives further background and notes that the conference’s final statement calls on the Church to:
*The statement is also available online at http://www.paxchristi.net/document/5856.
The statement—“An Appeal to Christians in the United States”—reflects a growing alarm that our country is entering a very dangerous period in which some political leaders and some media are directly challenging our most fundamental Christian convictions. The statement is consequently a theological affirmation. We hope that you will read the statement carefully and join those who have already signed their names.* The full text is available at goo.gl/rqcO1Q.
An Appeal to Christians in the United States
Because of fear we too easily caricature or condemn those who are different from us. Politicians and too many in the media stereotype African Americans, Asian Americans, people from Hispanic background, and followers of Islam. If we follow their lead, we slander our neighbors and blaspheme against the one God of all peoples. We resist such stereotypes and pledge to work for laws and practices that honor the dignity of all people.
We …... pledge that we will seek to limit the proliferation of guns in the U.S.
We ……pledge to be advocates for laws that regulate in a just and orderly manner the flow of refugees and immigrants.
We …... pledge to work for systems of security that guard human dignity and protect the vulnerable as well as the strong.
Let us help shape the character of our much loved land not by an abandonment of our most cherished Christian convictions but by following the counsel of the Prophet Micah--to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with our God.
Remembering Berrigan: Priest, Poet, and Prophet
Fr. Daniel Berrigan, SJ, died on April 30th. He had taught theology at Le Moyne College and Fordham University, New York, and was known for opposing the Vietnam War and later criticizing US nuclear policy. The Washington County, OR, Peace Vigil noted his passing and honors him by continuing his work for peace and nonviolence. Peace Vigil participants included Mary and Manny Hotchkiss, Barbara LaCombe, and Gerald Osacho of Holy Trinity Parish.
This spring, Teaching Tolerance, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, www.splcenter.org, surveyed approximately 2,000 teachers, asking them how the presidential campaign was affecting their students and their teaching. The results indicated that the campaign is having a profoundly negative impact on schoolchildren across the country, producing an alarming level of fear and anxiety among children of color and inflaming racial and ethnic tensions in the classroom. The full report and survey responses are at www.tolerance.org/.
As Affiliates, many of us have found ways to answer the call of Maryknoll—“to welcome the stranger and to walk with the people.” Members of the Sisters, Fathers and Brothers, and Lay Missioners often answer this call in the “field afar,” whereas most of us find the stranger, the deprived, the needy and lonely right here among us. Sometimes our answer to the call is short-term, like teaching English to new immigrants who then move on to self-sufficiency. Sometimes it’s visiting the incarcerated or working in a food pantry or offering rides to those without transportation.
Whatever form our answer to this call takes, it is a special way of accompaniment. Kitty Madden, whom many of us know and support, calls accompaniment a “bridging work.” For the past 30 years, she has been a bridge between Nicaraguan women who need care in their pregnancies and friends in the North who help her in this work by financially supporting Casa Materna or, as some Affiliates have done, by going to Nicaragua on short-term mission. Imagine the power of the accompaniment that has been given to over 17,000 mothers since the beginnings of this outreach.
On May 7, the Northeast Florida Maryknoll Affiliates, in collaboration with the Society’s mission education efforts, were happy to host a day of reflection on the encyclical, Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home. Maryknoll Mission Educator Matt Rousso led the day of reflection. He and his wife, Janet, long-time Maryknoll Affiliates, traveled from New Orleans for this special program.
At dinner the night before, where Matt and Janet informally met with our Chapter members, we discussed practical ways to be better stewards of the earth and its resources, including steps as simple as using real plates vs. paper ones (we used real!). Matt and Janet shared how they had invested in solar power for their home as a result of their concern for the environment.
Sixteen of us, both Affiliates and guests from the local community, gathered for the Saturday program. We invited our guests to consider joining us for a future Affiliate meeting and have heard from three of them that they plan to do so.
Fr. Ed Shellito, MM, introduced Matt and his important topic, and Matt began by talking about how Laudato Si differs from other encyclicals. He noted that the Pope used everyday (vs. “Churchified”) language. Also, the encyclical is addressed to every person living on this planet, whereas the first encyclical of Pope Francis had been addressed to all the members of the Church. Matt pointed out that Pope Francis was only the latest Pope to speak about the need to take care of our planet—we can hope that the message is finally being heard more widely.
One important point is the harmful effect that climate change has on the poor. For example, the poor are much more likely to lack clean water than are people of means. Matt said his mission trips to Guatemala have shown him firsthand that many people there lack clean water. Closer to home, the water challenges in the city of Flint, Michigan, came up in our discussion.
We watched the video, “The Gospel of Creation” and a short video on Pope Francis’s February Prayer Intention. The Pope reminded us that the earth is our common heritage and that we should become free of “the slavery of consumerism.” The Pope made a special prayer request: “That we may take good care of creation, cultivating and protecting it for future generations.”
As an older person and a grandmother, a compelling question for me was, “What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us?” In our discussion, one person said he felt the need to re-dedicate himself to ecological educational efforts, and another shared her desire to become free of an excessive need to shop.
We were left with much to ponder about the conversion to which God is calling us. We are very grateful to Matt, who was God’s instrument and enriched us by his willingness to share his understanding of Laudato Si with us.
On a pleasant May weekend, Affiliates from the Albany Chapter visited the Maryknoll Sisters in Ossining. The occasion was a presentation and discussion led by Archbishop Michael L. Fitzgerald, a Missionary of Africa and one of the leading experts on Islam, Muslim-Christian relations and Interreligious dialogue among the senior hierarchy of the Catholic Church. Previously the head of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Archbishop Fitzgerald has been the papal nuncio to Egypt and a delegate to the Arab League.
Our chapter began 14 years ago with six members. Two of us, Ernie Gillogley and Patty Symkowick, had traveled to Kenya with Maryknoll Friends Across Borders, where we learned about the Affiliate movement. When we returned we joined Kaz and Joan McFarland and Alma Paige who had been spending about three months every year in Thailand teaching English to Buddhist monks with Brother John Beeching, MM. Since some in our chapter were involved in the California State University, Sacramento, Newman Center, we recruited mainly from that community and opened our meetings to all who were interested in community, prayer, reflection, action, and global vision. Since that time we have grown to over 14 members. We have combined most of our activities with a very strong JustFaith Graduate community, and currently 19 people, most of them Maryknoll Affiliates, are participating in the JustFaith module on the Ecological Crisis.
What’s it going to take for different cultures/faith traditions to co-exist peacefully?
What’s it going to take for people to get past their biases and fears of the “other,” to accept and live peacefully with each other? Participants may have found one answer in a JustFaith Ministries eight-week study, The Sultan and the Saint: Muslims and Christians Working Together for the Common Good, based on a book by that name. The springboard was a meeting between St. Francis of Assisi and the Sultan around 1219, during the Fifth Crusade.