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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Monday, 02 March 2015 00:00

Meeting the World in Salt Lake City

Written by

John P. Martin, MM*

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 ( 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 (, 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 – 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.

My passion for returning to inter-religious events has continued to be an element of my life to this day.  This year’s Parliament in Salt Lake includes keynote presenters: the Dalai Lama, Oscar Arias, Rajendra Pachauri, Mairead Maguire, Tariq Ramadan, and Karen Armstrong. You can register as participant or presenter at:   I will attend and invite my fellow Maryknollers to also attend. Please feel free to contact me: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; my address at the Center is: Box 305, Maryknoll NY 10545. Tel. 914-941-7636, extension 2705.

*Fr. Martin is a strong supporter of the Maryknoll Affiliates, attended the 2015 Maryknoll Affiliate Conference, and fostered the formation of the Merida Mexico chapter of Maryknoll Affiliates.



Monday, 02 March 2015 00:00

 Dead Man Walking

Written by

Mary Ryan-Hotchkiss – Portland Chapter

Marshall LaCombe sounded just like an Irish priest.

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.  

Monday, 02 March 2015 00:00

Visiting Bolivia & Peru—The Sequel

Written by

Bob Short – Executive Coordinator

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. 

Monday, 02 March 2015 00:00

Breaking the Chains

Written by

Nancy Davies – Lay Missioner, Cambodia

They found him in chains—he and another boy who was also deaf. Someone brought the boys here to our Deaf Development Programme (DDP) in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where deaf students 15 years old and up learn sign-language, as well as basic education and life skills. By all indications, these two boys had been abused, traumatized, and isolated for a long time. Often, in remote villages, people do not understand deafness. The deaf person is thought to be mentally deficient, possessed, or even being punished for their or a parent’s wrongdoing.

Monday, 02 March 2015 00:00

A Holiday “Family” Visit 

Written by

John Moritz – NE Florida Chapter

The NE Florida affiliate community had a brief but joyous visit, which can most accurately be described as a holiday family visit, by a part of our extended Maryknoll family. On Dec 18, 2014, Sister Margarita Jamias, MM, shared with local affiliates and the wider community her passion for cosmology and the environment. Our chapter hosted a gathering where Sr. Margarita showed the video, Journey of the Universe, followed by a discussion of what moved and challenged us in the video.

Monday, 02 March 2015 00:00

Peace Choirs

Written by

Mary Ryan-Hotchkiss – Portland Chapter

Is there a Peace Choir in your area? After seven years of organizing Search For Peace art events and participating in a weekly peace vigil, I thought I’d sought out everything peace-full in the Portland area. Last fall I was surprised to find the Portland Peace Choir on-line and then in person. Luckily, we were allowed to join the 50-person group without an audition. Since then, they have performed at a Martin Luther King, Jr., commemoration highlighting nonviolence and have sung African songs at Taste of Tanzania, a fundraiser for the Huruma school for disabled children. 


The Peace Choir is clearly secular and has a repertoire that includes popular, ethnic, traditional civil rights, and even a few religious songs. They all highlight love, peace, nonviolence, and cooperation. We recently participated in a concert where five peace choirs, consisting of about 200 people from western Oregon, harmonized beautifully in sound and thought. We we told that peace choirs are a movement that is spreading across the country. What better way to make peace than to think peace, listen carefully, and live harmoniously in solidarity with your neighbors, wherever they may be. Sing out your gift of peace to the community.

Monday, 02 March 2015 00:00

Students Report on U-Lab

Written by

In the Jan/Feb NSFA, Fr. Gene Toland, MM, invited Maryknollers to enroll in U-Lab, a Massive Online Open Course (MOOC), offered by MIT and the Presencing Institute.

Thus several Affiliates, and 25,000 of our closest friends from around the world, signed up for the free six-week course based on Otto Scharmer and Katrin Kaufer’s book, Leading from the Emerging Future: from Ego-System to Eco-system Economies, Applying Theory U to Transforming Business, Society and Self. Ideally, participants met in small groups to watch the course’s videos, to prototype, and to receive coaching on their own projects face-to-face or by Skype. 

Monday, 02 March 2015 00:00

A Community of Compassion

Written by
Nicole Kephart of Portland Peace Choir accepts quilt she won in the raffle from Bertha Haas (left), who sewed it of cloth from Tanzania.

After leaving Africa, Bertha Haas, now a Portland Affiliate, envisioned a compassionate community that would continue to support Huruma. Huruma is the school for disabled children that she founded in Tanzania ten years ago as a Maryknoll Lay Missioner.  After she and Lay Missioners David and Caitlin Rosser of Seattle left Tanzania, no Maryknollers remained to work at the school, so Maryknoll can no longer provide support.

The involvement of the Maryknoll Affiliates and numerous other groups in the Portland area made Taste of Tanzania, a special dinner/fundraiser, very successful both financially and in forming community. 

Monday, 02 March 2015 00:00

Maryknoll Overseas Experiences

Written by

Michael J. Snyder, MM

Do you hear the call of far-away places? Here are a few volunteer opportunities:

Study in Africa

Through the Maryknoll Institute Of African Studies – St. Mary’s University, Minnesota, and Tangaza College, Nairobi, participate directly in the contemporary cultures and religions of Kenya.  These graduate courses combine lectures, directed professional field research assisted by a personal tutorial assistant, a 15-page research/ integration paper, and pastoral reflection. All courses are intensive, immersion-style and completed in three weeks. Courses are registered at St. Mary’s University as four-credit graduate courses.

Maryknoll Institute also runs full semester programs for non-East Africans and other foreigners who come for a sabbatical of three months. 

Rev. Michael C. Kirwen, Mm, Director and Associate Dean at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

China Teachers Program 

Ever consider spending a year in China teaching English as a second language? The Maryknoll China teachers program offers a unique opportunity to share and live out your Christian calling educating young Chinese university students.


China Teachers’ Summer Program 

From mid-July to mid-August at Jilin Medical College, Jilin City. Help third-year Medical and Nursing students with spoken English through small group discussions and oral drills in four class periods per day. Eight to fourteen teachers live in community on the campus of Jilin Medical College. Program requirements and benefits are the same as the full year program.

Fr. Brian Barrons, MM, Asia Regional Superior
at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Bookmark this special Maryknoll Society website: Visit it frequently to discover the latest opportunities not only for short-term service but also for immersion and study programs. For further information, please contact:


Rev. Michael J. Snyder, MM, Short Term
Volunteer Coordinator, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 Telephone: 888.627.9566 

Monday, 02 March 2015 00:00

Lenten Fast for Climate Justice

Written by

Maryknoll is one of nearly 100 Catholic national and international member groups in the newly formed Global Catholic Climate Movement (

This coalition of laity, religious, clergy, theologians, scientists, and activists agree with scientific findings that humanity’s greenhouse gas emissions contribute to widespread and mostly harmful changes to planetary systems. Its focus is on the moral and spiritual issues involved, and to raise awareness of Church teachings on the care of creation.

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