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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Thursday, 27 June 2019 18:44

Maryknoll Lay Missioner/Lawyer

Written by

Mary Ryan-Hotchkiss – Portland Chapter

On our annual road trip, I met briefly with Heidi Cerneka, a Maryknoll Lay Missioner, in El Paso.

Heidi said she was inspired to join the Lay Missioners while she was still in college and heard about the church women being martyred in El Salvador. Rather than being frightened, their dedication excited her. As a Lay Missioner, Heidi worked many years in Brazil with women in prisons, but at 50 years of age she decided to go to law school. Now she works for a nonprofit, Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center in El Paso, as an immigration lawyer. Most of her work involves asylum cases. In this part of Texas only about 3% of asylum applicants are successful. She said that in other jurisdictions, e.g., parts of New York or Portland, Oregon, about 50% of asylum applicants are eventually granted asylum.

The Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy center needs volunteers and interns. Besides the obvious need for workers with legal expertise, Heidi specifically mentioned that social workers or counselors could interview clients. The organization’s website—Las-Americas.org—includes two pages requesting interns and volunteers and listing needs.

I asked Heidi her message for Affiliates. She emphasized, “Walls and detention centers are not the answer. Central America needs to be a place where people can stay if they want, with job opportunities, fair wages, and security. The US needs to be a place where people can come with fair immigration policies. … All the people that leave the government’s detention centers are now documented; they’re not undocumented or illegal!”

 

Thursday, 27 June 2019 04:52

Wishing for More Excitement?

Written by

A little preparation can lead to a lively meeting.

In preparation for a chapter meeting just before Earth Day, Matt Rousso, New Orleans Chapter contact person, sent two questions to the members  of the Gulf South New Orleans Area Chapter:

  • What is one thing you do to combat Climate Change?
  • What is something you could do that challenges you?

Since they’d been discussing and studying Laudato Si and Care for Creation, these questions resonated with the members. Sixteen people attended the meeting and everyone had something to say.

 

Thursday, 27 June 2019 04:41

Boston Affiliate Working with Rotary

Written by

Jim Comes – Boston Chapter

Left to right: A Rotary colleague, the HELP technician, and Jim Comes present the Guatemalan family their new stove. 

I recently had the opportunity to work with a local Rotary Club to install wood-burning stoves in two villages on the shores of Lake Atitlan, Guatemala. 
My local Rotary Club in Westborough, Massachusetts, and Rotary clubs in Guatemala City and Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, received a grant from Rotary International to install the stoves.

I worked with another Rotarian from Massachusetts and a local technician from HELP International.  HELP identified 100 families and provided the basic parts needed to install a stove.  Each family agreed to not sell the stove and to purchase eleven cinder blocks which would act as the base for the stove. (Google “Onil stoves Guatemala” to see the stoves.)

The goal of the project was to change the practice of cooking with open fires on the floor, eliminating exposure to smoke and reducing health issues.  Mayan families traditionally cook with open fires on the floor in rooms with little or no ventilation. Several health problems are associated with smoke exposure: acute respiratory disease, chronic bronchitis, asthma, tuberculosis, lung cancer, cardiovascular disease, and others.

With continued support from the grant, local health clinics will be monitored for health issues related to smoke exposure, and some families will be visited to measure air quality in the room where the stove was installed.

In four days, our group of ten Rotarians installed 100 stoves in homes and one larger wood-burning stove in a school. The Mayan families receiving the stoves are very poor—they live in two or three rooms and have none of the basic conveniences we take for granted. The taxi driver who drove us around to different houses told me he makes five dollars a day. In addition to reducing the Mayan family’s exposure to smoke, the stoves burn wood more efficiently, saving trees and money. The families were overjoyed to have the stoves, which will enable them to spend less for wood and hopefully more on food.

Thursday, 27 June 2019 04:29

Meeting Maryknoll in St. Louis

Written by

Mary and Manny Hotchkiss – Portland Chapter

Left to right: Manny Hotchkiss and Mary Ryan-Hotchkiss join Patty
Hinton, Debbie Perotta, and Vicki Simon at lunch to learn more
about Midwestern Maryknoll actifiities.

Patty Hinton, Vicki Simon, and the Hotchkisses talked about their connections to Maryknoll over lunch in May. The Hotchkisses were passing through Missouri on their way home to Portland, Oregon, from an Affiliate Board meeting at Maryknoll, NY. Patty Hinton is the Regional Coordinator for the large Midwest region that includes Missouri, Minnesota, Illinois, Ohio, and other nearby states where there currently are no Affiliate chapters. She arranged for Vicki Simon to join us.

Vicki Simon is a returned Maryknoll Lay Missioner who served in Kenya. Since returning, Vicki is on the Maryknoll Lay Missioners’ Board and has served in various Jesuit-related roles in the St. Louis area. She commented that the JustFaith program had been active for over 12 years at St. Francis Xavier “College” parish, St. Louis. Racism and white privilege are discussed in many area churches. She recently volunteered at a migrant refuge affiliated with the El Paso Annunciation House of Hospitality. Having studied Latin American culture and taught Spanish for nine years, she said, “I felt called to do something!” She plans to work at the border again in August.

Thursday, 27 June 2019 04:22

Bird Lessons

Written by

Bob Short - Executive Coordinator

In mid-April, a female robin began constructing a nest on the flower trellis just outside our back door. Completed in a few days, the nest looked perfect. To the best of my knowledge, the robin had no access to YouTube or Building a Bird Nest for Dummies to help her with the construction. I spent the next four weeks observing Robi (naming creativity not being my strong suit) several times each day. Though Robi never gave any indication she wanted to become a Maryknoll Affiliate, what I observed over those weeks was an inspiration to me.

Day and night, she spent ninety percent of her time maintaining the nest, often through long periods of cold and rain. Then the eggs came and her motherly resolve grew stronger. Robi was acutely vigilant, as birds need to be, but in time she came to trust and allowed me to get very close to the nest. On each visit I carried on a conversation, essentially the same one every time. Many would say that’s all we humans ever do anyway. I also assured her that I’d do my best to protect her from the neighborhood cat that frequently visited our yard. Robi appeared attentive and receptive but never uttered a peep in return. Even so, I convinced myself that we had become friends.

Then, on the morning of the eleventh day of incubation, a day or two before the eggs were ready to hatch, I opened the back door to ask Robi how her night had been, but she was gone. In her place, inches from the nest, was a squirrel rotating a blue egg, the last one of the clutch, in its front claws – just as squirrels do with an acorn before biting into it.

I couldn’t begin to process all this. How must Robi feel!? Was she distraught, defeated, filled with revenge? Do birds feel, think, have a hidden belief-system or life philosophy to help them deal with such terrible losses? Did she stamp her tiny claws and ask, ‘Why me?!’ Did she just accept it as one of nature’s inevitable cruelties? I wondered too if on some instinctual level birds have a built-in moral code about murder and ornithological injustices; or, perhaps a batch of existential questions around sin, redemption, and an afterlife. Admittedly, these are almost assuredly the entirely wrong questions emerging from a small, inchoate human mind. I had to check myself. Were all these queries and projections simply yet another example of anthropomorphic excess that we humans apply to so much else in the cosmos, including God?

Yet, I couldn’t let go of the possibility that there must be a lesson in this for me. Robi, like everything in nature except us humans, never left the confines (and freedom) of life’s natural rhythms. She knew in a different, non-cerebral way without needing to ask either existential questions or the tedious ones that often consume our lives. She knew in a different way—perhaps much like the monk who, after forty years of searching for ‘the answers,’ came around the bend on a mountain trail one early spring morning, saw a peach tree in full bloom, and proclaimed to himself, “Now I understand!”

Last week a robin built a new nest; this time on the door ledge of the porch outside the entrance door of our house. Squirrels could never get to this one. I have to believe it’s Robi. We’ve resumed our conversation.

Thursday, 27 June 2019 04:13

Welcoming Maryknollers

Written by

The Affiliate Hospitality Initiative core group—Patty Hinton, Roxanne Hughes-Wheatland, Manny Hotchkiss, and Bob Short—are compiling a list of Affiliate households that are available to offer hospitality to Maryknollers traveling for work or pleasure. Once the list is completed, we will post the number of potential hosts by geographic area (e.g., Boston, Saint Louis, Los Angeles, Washington, DC, etc.) but no names or addresses. Maryknollers, including Affiliates, requesting hospitality in a given area would contact Bob Short, who will assess the request. If an Affiliate host is available, Bob will have the host contact the interested Maryknoller.

Hospitality Data Gathering – If you are interested in participating, please respond to HospitalityForm. Don’t forget to fill out the anti-robot code box. When completed, hit SUBMIT. 

If you have any questions, contact Bob Short at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

Thursday, 27 June 2019 03:50

Staying Connected

Written by

Santa Orlando – Albany Chapter

One of the most important things we can do as Affiliates is to stay connected—to our local communities, to Maryknoll Sisters, Fathers, Brothers, Lay Missioners and to other Affiliate chapters. It is through these connections that we experience the charism of Maryknoll. Proximity to Maryknoll in Ossining, New York, has allowed many of the Albany chapter members to form ongoing relationships with Maryknollers who reside there, but proximity is only one aspect of forming relationships.

At our May chapter meeting, the Albany Chapter Skyped with the Guatemala Chapter. This had been previously arranged via a series of emails to coordinate a common meeting time. Both groups were looking forward to this meeting to reconnect with Affiliates we had met at MAC 2017 or at other times. Laughter was shared together as we adjusted the cameras to focus on the Affiliates, not on the ceiling! We prayed together and wished the Guatemala Chapter a Happy 10th  Anniversary by providing them with a cake and candles—which we enjoyed for them. We briefly shared what our chapters do throughout the year, acknowledging differences and commonalities. It was a joyful meeting and we plan on continuing this practice in the future.

 Without consciously planning to, most of the articles in this issue mention ways to strengthen chapters and the Affiliate Movement. You could solidify your chapter by having a Covenant renewal, as was done by Misioneras Hispanas Santa Maria in North Carolina. To help recruit new members, Seattle will distribute information about their chapter when they help at Maryknoll events. Sharing your meeting minutes with your regional coordinator, the Executive coordinator, and the NSFA will keep you and them in the loop. Individually you can strengthen your connection with other Affiliates by responding to the Question of the Month. Hosting a regional conference would allow you to meet and be inspired by Affiliates outside your chapter. Bringing a Quo Vadis presentation to your area would also introduce you to new people and deepen your dedication to mission.

Chapters and Affiliates can be animated by working together on a project such as serving at the Border, as described by Roger Schiltz. The Las Vegas Chapter picks local nonprofits to support financially or with a special event. Las Vegas also suggests using Skype to connect with another chapter. Inviting visitors, as Northeastern Florida does, can enliven your chapter meetings.

Did I miss any? Share your other ideas with us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Articles in this issue:

Promoting Maryknoll and Your Chapter – We encourage your chapter to customize and utilize a handout about your chapter...

Why Quo Vadis? – "Why might Quo Vadis be important for the Maryknoll Affiliate Movement?'—Bill Murphy

Maryknoll Leads Them to Action –  "We try to take the positive from each group we meet.”—Punch Fermin

One Woman’s Missions – "On December 3rd, I took my Vow of Nonviolence* at Carmel of Reno for the 31st straight year."—Ellie Hays

Greetings from Peru "A group of us collaborates at Casa Bartimeo, which is directed by Maryknoll Father Kyungsu Son, MM."—Hugo Castro Campos

Covenant Continues – "...these women were walking in the footsteps of the 'Tar Heel Apostle'—Father Thomas Price."—Gail Kelley

A Special Visitor from Tanzania – "Do you know how many houses that could buy where I live?”—Sister Mariana Clemence

Water, Water, Everywhere? "I have been thinking a lot about how blessed I am to have such easy access to clean water..."—Matt Rousso

Border Volunteers from Kirkland, WA – "What a beautiful experience we had working together cleaning the filthy toilets and washing towels and clothes."—Roger Schiltz

Learn more about your Maryknoll Affiliate Board and Executive Coordinator in these articles:

Share the Joy   

Question of the Month 

Introducing Roxanne Hughes-Wheatland

And be sure to enjoy the Features in this issue:

Appalachia Immersion 

Maryknoll Mission Institute 2019

 If you are more comfortable reading the Not So Far Afield in its print form, you may download a pdf of the May/June issue. 

Saturday, 27 April 2019 17:27

Promoting Maryknoll and Your Chapter

Written by

Affiliate chapters often lend a hand when visiting Maryknoll missioners give a talk or say Mass in their area. They often hand out Maryknoll magazines and donation envelopes. Affiliates could use this as an opportunity to tell people about the Affiliates and to invite them to visit their chapter.

Knowing that they will be assisting visiting Maryknollers this summer, the Seattle Maryknoll Affiliate Chapter has drafted a handout which could be attached to the Affiliate brochure, or perhaps tucked into the Maryknoll magazines they will distribute. First they discussed and drafted a meaningful description of their chapter and designed it to match the dimensions of the Maryknoll Affiliates’ tri-fold brochure (about 3 ½” by 8 ½”). Before finalizing it, they asked the entire chapter to review the draft. Here is the April 18 draft of Seattle’s description:

Saturday, 27 April 2019 17:14

Why Quo Vadis?

Written by

Bill Murphy – Maryknoll Affiliate Board

Quo Vadis? Where Are You Going? ... The Next Step is a Board-supported program which a team of Maryknoll Affiliates designed to complement already existing immersion programs. It is a time for people returning from immersion experiences to consider how to integrate significant cross-cultural insights into their life choices.

Why might Quo Vadis be important for the Maryknoll Affiliate Movement? Quo Vadis:

  • Provides a practical platform for our charism/gift to the world. While hyper-individualism, as well as nationalism and tribalism, are valued by many, we know and proclaim the benefits of cross-culturalism and community.
  • Provides access to expanding numbers of people, both young and older, who are committing to a variety of immersion experiences. This is where the action is.
  • Provides an opportunity for Affiliates to serve in the context of global vision.
  • Provides a wellspring for possible future Affiliates.

Can you think of some other reasons? Share your thoughts with me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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