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.
John Moritz – SE Regional Coordinator & Ann Carr – Board Chair
In the life of every Christian, after baptism there is also another “Galilee”, a more existential ‘Galilee’: the experience of a personal encounter with Jesus Christ who called me to follow him and to share in his mission. In this sense, returning to Galilee means treasuring in my heart the living memory of that call, when Jesus passed my way, gazed at me with mercy and asked me to follow him.—Pope Francis
As Holy Week approached, the Affiliate Board and Regional Coordinators (RCs) gathered for our annual joint meeting. This time embraced both the somberness of Lent and the joyous anticipation of Easter. Like the disciples returning to Galilee, we reflected on important moments of our history as a means of welcoming new Maryknoll entity members —Russ Feldmeier, MM, Norie Mojado, MM, and Teruko Ito, MM—to the Affiliate Board and our most recent Regional Coordinators—Jerrie Drinkwine and Patty Hinton. We also shared our hopes and dreams for the future of the Maryknoll Affiliates.
Opening session. Patty Symkowick led the Migrant’s Way of the Cross, a prayerful reminder that we are intimately connected to the crucified peoples of our modern world. Then, reflecting on our shared orientation to the Affiliate movement, we identified the core concepts that have shaped us as Affiliates. We are a movement rather than a program: an expression, not an entity of Maryknoll; a network of small mission communities that relates to all three entities; Chapters living out the four pillars with emphasis upon building relationships and promoting local mission. Our 24-year-old movement, influenced by challenges within and beyond Maryknoll, is growing more international, responding to the wider prophetic voices of our Church and world.
Latin American Trip. Executive Coordinator Bob Short and Board Latin American liaison’ Patty Barneond Garcia Tres, reported that on their December trip they were deeply moved by the Latin American Affiliates’ level of commitment to mission, communal life, and spirituality, as well as their incredible hospitality. Repeatedly, the Affiliates spoke of having been deeply influenced and formed by Maryknollers who have worked among them over the years and of their commitment to carrying on Maryknoll mission legacy.
Maryknoll Affiliate Conference (MAC). Convening the next MAC in Latin America had been suggested at MAC 2014, and the Guatemalan Chapter has offered to host MAC 2017. Some Board members explored this possibility with the Guatemalan Chapter, and many positive developments have emerged. The Board and RCs have gratefully and enthusiastically accepted Guatemala’s offering! Please stay tuned for more details.
New Chapters. We also moved to recognize two new Bolivian Chapters—Misión Vida (Cochabamba 2) and Renacer Misionero (Santa Cruz). To help us welcome these latest members of the Affiliate movement, you can send a message via Facebook at www.facebook.com/maryknollaffiliates or www.facebook.com/centromisioneromaryknoll (Spanish).
Asia. Russ Feldmeier, MM, told of his February visit with the Korean Affiliate Chapter and his participation in their covenant recommitment ceremony. Norie Mojado, MM, and Russ described their accompaniment during the Chapter’s formation history and were grateful to now bring the voice of the Asian Affiliates to our Board in a special way.
Formation. Reflecting on this wonderful growth, we felt an even greater need to help fulfill the regional coordinator’s aspirational job description. How do we strengthen regional connections? How do the RCs encourage and support this? The RCs shared their challenges and discoveries, noting the diversity of the regions, strategies for connecting and serving the Affiliate movement, and the essentially pastoral focus of their work. John Moritz commented on his ongoing work in formation and proposed that we consider a Maryknoll-wide resource center for formation materials.
Collaboration. Collaboration, within and beyond Maryknoll, has been an Affiliate priority for several years, but we are now being invited into collaboration within the Maryknoll family in a new way, as was strongly affirmed in the recent Society Chapter and Congregational General Assembly. We now have standing representation on the Maryknoll Joint Meeting of Leadership (JML). Affiliates have been invited to participate in such activities as the Maryknoll Sisters’ Mission Institute Planning Committee. And all four expressions of Maryknoll and the MOGC participate in the ongoing partnership with JustFaith.
Survey. We also finalized the Affiliate survey. Going out to all on May 1st, it will “take the pulse’’ of the Affiliate movement in order to discern together where the Spirit is leading us in this new moment.
New Board Member. Bill Murphy, a longstanding Boston Chapter Affiliate who brings a wealth of mission experience and is gifted in group discernment, was selected as the latest member of our Affiliate Board.
Building Community. Several activities nourished our bodies and spirits: We remembered Jim Madden, MM, in prayer at his gravesite. We socialized with the local Maryknollers, enjoying lively conversation and robust singing with Paul Masson, MM, and Bob Short on guitars. And we celebrated Palm Sunday with the Sisters, a sharing in the outpouring of the Spirit and at the Eucharistic table that led us into Holy Week.
At the close of our meeting, it was clear that we had spent important time together. We were grateful to learn more about the organic unfolding, along with the many challenges, of our Affiliate movement.
May we all be inspired by the words of Pope Francis and go back to our own Galilees.
May we open ourselves to the beauty of the resurrection in order to see the gift of mission fire that is very much alive in the Maryknoll Affiliates.
Each of us
has a Red Sea
Problems so terrifying
no exit we see
When placing our requests
on wings to Thee
Then trusting God,
He parts our sea
Providing safe passage
for you and me
No need to fear
the pounding waves
of life’s problem sea
Upon placing our lives
in the hands of Thee
Pope Francis, asking us to pray with him, has suggested these special intentions:
That, rejecting the culture of indifference, we may care for our neighbors who suffer, especially the sick and the poor.
That immigrants and refugees may find welcome and respect in the countries to which they come.
Prior to January 2015, few people in the Philippines had heard of Mamasapano, a small municipality on the southern island of Mindanao...
Read the complete article at: http://www.maryknollogc.org/article/philippines-mamasapano-clash-threatens-peace.
*A returned Maryknoll Lay Missioner who served for several years as the Executive
Coordinator of the Maryknoll Affiliates, Fred has returned to the Philippines
and now works with the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute Foundation, Inc.
For Sister Madeline Dorsey, it was a day in which she and another Maryknoll Sister were placed on the front lines of that march, representing the Black doctors who worked with them at Queen of the World Hospital, the nation’s first interracial hospital, located in Kansas City, MO.
Read the back story of her involvement in the May/June issue of Maryknoll magazine, page 20.
After my volunteer assignment in San José, Costa Rica, I traveled by bus to visit Kitty Madden, a Maryknoll Affiliate in Matagalpa, Nicaragua. She has lived there for 29 years, putting her heart and soul into serving the needs of high-risk pregnant women. Casa Materna, established in 1991 as the very first maternal care center in Nicaragua, offers food, shelter, education, medical care, transportation and support for high-risk pregnant women from rural areas for one to two weeks before and after childbirth.
I had met Kitty Madden at a Maryknoll Conference and become a Friend of the Casa Materna. Later she traveled to Portland, and visited my Solo group and Portland Affiliates. During her last visit, over lunch I learned of the new developments at the Casa. I thought it would be wonderful to actually see for myself the operation of this wonderful Maternity Home.
Kitty greeted me warmly at the local bus station and installed me in the Casita, a very comfortable hotel across the street from Casa Materna. The $15 per day cost goes directly to support the Casa. Soon we were welcomed by the staff and pregnant women at the Casa. Charming murals, brightly painted interior spaces, and wonderful rocking chairs, made for a very friendly atmosphere. After a lunch of rice and beans, I joined Kitty at a meeting with the staff, who were planning an outreach program—additional education and training that women have requested. The follow-up and outreach programs are becoming a more important part of the mission of the Casa Materna as the number of Casa Maternas has increased; now over 100 are located in every department in the country.
The next day we walked with the women up some very steep hills to the hotel gardens for calming exercises led by Kitty Madden. Then we were treated to some fruit punch and flan at the hotel. I learned the women’s ages, how many children they already have, their due dates, and the reason for their stay at the the Casa. They ranged in age from 17 to 42; this would be first child to eighth; and they were expecting that very day or week, or were overdue.
I had a chance to ask them questions and they asked me about my children. Our second walk a few days later was also very enjoyable and just as calming. The sense of calm, the companionship of the women, and the dedication of the staff are what impressed me the most. I met the whole Casa Materna staff when I joined them at the end of their monthly meeting, just in time for their fun fundraising raffle (to raise money for their 13th month salary – their bonus), and I was certainly impressed by their desire to serve the women in Matagalpa with high-risk pregnancies.
While I was in Matagalpa, several women went to the regional hospital to deliver their babies or for appointments in the new ambulance that was purchased a few years ago. Marvin, one of two Casa drivers, was taking a women for an appointment in the ambulance and gave me a ride as well, dropping me off at the bus station when I had to leave Matagalpa.
This NSFA issue urges you to consider new ways of seeing. Executive Coordinator Bob Short introduces the new Affiliate web site, which provides new ways of seeing and learning about the Affiliate movement. Check it out! Bob also shares his evolving perceptions from his recent time with Affiliates in Bolivia and Peru.
Fr. John Martin, MM, writes that interfaith dialog has expanded his perspectives. Several Affiliate gatherings, regional and local, featured in this issue, will bring an expanded view of the Affiliate world. Indeed, the Maryknoll Affiliate pillar, Global Vision, is a new way of seeing, a way of seeing that includes everyone, especially the marginalized.
The new www.maryknollaffiliates.org is up and running! Opening the site, you will see that it looks and feels significantly different from the old website. The Affiliate Four Pillars: Spirituality, Community, Global Vision and Action, are prominently displayed on the home page. Visually, the formatting—
multi-colored layers and many more photos—engages the viewer from the outset. Navigating the new website is simpler and more intuitive. Our Affiliate site is bilingual and will carry copies of both newsletters, Not So Far Afield and No Tan Lejos del Horizonte, on both the English and Spanish home pages.
Beth Begley, a very active Affiliate, exemplifies the partnering of Affiliates with other organizations. As a Pax Christi International UN Team member, she recently wrote, “Pax Christi International’s Vibrant Presence at the UN,” for the Pax Christi Winter 2014 newsletter: https://paxchristiusa1.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/winter2014newsletterweb.pdf. The article discussed the NGO Committee on Disarmament, Peace, and Security and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review.”
When asked what value she sees in partnering, Beth commented: “What I’m seeing are ever more converging and interwoven networks. Maryknoll Global Concerns is a member organization of Pax Christi International and there is a collaborative group in DC of Pax Christi International–USA, the DC Maryknoll Office, Sisters of Mercy, Columbans, and more who work together to inform and to help shape US policy. At the UN, committees of NGOs collaborate as well. I hope in our upcoming survey of ourselves as Affiliates, we will explore our various involvements and passions. This seems to be very much a sign of our times as we evolve...I have often thought, ‘How can we collaborate in terms of organizational structure and relationships?’ I think now that it is a matter of staying loose and flexible enough to respond to the opportunities and the challenges as they appear. What is your experience and your hope?”
Being Missionary Disciples in the spirit of Pope Francis drives Affiliates of the New Orleans Chapter in our many activities.
September: We gathered 16 strong at Mary Ann Becnel’s home on the Jordan River in Bay St. Louis for an end-of-summer day of prayer and planning. Symbols of the Maryknoll Affiliates pillars provided the backdrop for our day together. In this context, we set goals for the coming year.
This year, from October 15-19, the grand-daddy of all inter-faith assemblies will convene in Salt Lake City to celebrate “Reclaiming the heart of our humanity: Working together for a world of compassion, peace, justice and sustainability.” This Parliament of World Religions has quite a history, and I have gained much from my association with it.
The first Parliament of World Religions (http://www.parliamentofreligions.org/) took place September 11-27, 1893, and was a resounding success, with 4,000 participants and representatives from forty churches and traditions. With its goal to bring together in one place the many religious traditions of the world, it was hailed as a pioneering event. The goal was to express the harmony that can and should prevail among believers in God, despite our different garbs and tongues, traditions and rituals. Some established Christian churches were repulsed by the idea that leaders of non-Christian traditions would be included. Still the organizing went on.
Despite the bias toward European and North American Christian presence and organization, the breadth of topics and the extensive participation of believers of many traditions from many lands accounted for the very positive reactions to this event. It was perhaps the largest and most influential interfaith gathering among peoples of the world to date.
This Parliament resulted in the founding in 1900 in Boston the International Association for Religious Freedom (https://iarf.net), the first-ever international interfaith group. In 1936, Sir Francis Younghusband founded the World Congress of Faiths and in 1960, the dream of Judith Hollister came true in the Temple of Understanding. 1970 saw the birth of the World Conference on Religion and Peace (now Religions for Peace – http://www.rfpusa.org/). Their present secretary general is former Maryknoll Lay Missioner William Vendley, and our John McAuley, MM, worked there also. This legacy includes countless groups organized within many religious traditions dedicated to the dream of religious harmony and collaboration among all believers.
Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902) from India was an instant success from the start of his speech addressed to “Sisters and Brothers of America.” His guru Swami Ramakrishna was a reclusive renunciant in Calcutta, West Bengal, whose lineage has been propagated by the organizing efforts of his most famous disciple in the West as well as in India. I had the privilege of visiting his ashram and being the guest of the Ramakrishna Order while in India myself.
Swami Paramananda (1884-1940), an early disciple of Vivekananda, came to the United States in 1906 and established an ashram in Cohasset, Massachusetts. He later selected his niece Mataji Gayatri Devi (born in Barisal, Bangladesh) to direct the community at his passing. I had the privilege of knowing her; she initiated me as a sannyasin (renunciant). I maintain my contact with this inspiring community.
I attended the congress in Bangalore, India, organized by the four interfaith groups cited above. I had lived in Bangladesh from 1975 through 1981 and had been living since 1991 in West Bengal, so I already knew the Bengali language. The long discussions on the proposal from Hans Kung, “A Global Ethic,” were a salient feature of this congress.
Increasingly, I see how these events and encounters have enriched my life. My mind and heart and spirit have been expanded to become more tolerant, less inclined to judge. My perspective has become one of universalism, of respecting others as true believers in the one god of all. I see religious diversity as a gift helping us all to live by our faith traditions.
Several JustFaith groups and the Portland Maryknoll Affiliates, inspired by our concern for social justice, combined efforts to educate about the death penalty in Oregon. We hoped to touch people emotionally and help them think in a new way about the death penalty.
For two weeks in mid-December Patty Barneond de Garcia Tres, Affiliate Board member and liaison to Latin America, and Bob Short traveled to Bolivia and Peru to meet with Affiliates and Maryknollers in those two countries. This is Bob’s second article on that trip.
Within two days after arriving in Cochabamba and meeting with the Affiliates there, it became apparent that something was different; that, in several ways, a different calculus was applied to how life is lived and mission embraced. As Patty and I continued our trip, visiting Santa Cruz and the Peruvian populations of Lima, Arequipa, and Chiguata, a small village in the mountains outside of Arequipa, that perception stayed with me.