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.
“Who do you say that I am?”
Have you met the thems? Did they speak another language? Do they have AIDs? Do they observe another faith? Are they mentally ill, immigrants, disabled, homosexual, felons, or a different race or economic class?
The Maryknoll Affiliate Mission Statement asks us to cross borders, geographic and otherwise. The Maryknoll Lay Missioners say they build bridges connecting us to others.
During our brief time with Bertha Haas in Mwanza, Tanzania, she told us that when she was a Lay Missioner through 2011, she saw disabled children being regarded as them. That treatment inspired her to found the Huruma Centre School for handicapped children. David and Caitlin Rosser, MKLM, carry on her work.
Some parents from an adjacent school asked Caitlin, “Will my child get sick if he plays with them?” A principal at a public school was incredulous when she saw that a young girl with misshapen arms was not only able to type on a keyboard but could actually read what she typed. Some other Tanzanians doubted that any teachers would be willing to work with disabled children not their own.
These are just a few of the highlights of my Friends Across Borders (FAB) journey to Kenya with the Maryknoll Lay Missioners in September 2013. I think I have always wanted to visit Africa because I feel African music and dance express all the best emotions of life with the whole body. This trip immersed us in the lives of the people of Kenya in Eastern Africa and the ministries of the Maryknoll Lay Missioners.
What was the magic of their secret?
Was it the memory of the busy and noisy, strange City?
Was it the color and beauty of exotic flowers and sunsets?
Was it the unbelievable sweetness and richness of wines grown and ripened on the other side of the globe?
Was it the aftertaste of the spices which strange foods had left on their tongues?
What was it all about?
Was it the laughter echoing through their souls?
Was it a song, a melody?
Was it just a memory of the face they could not forget?
Was it a smile that had warmed their hearts?
Who will ever know?
So they returned to their cobblers’ benches and broken shoes...
To their trading stores and wares...
To their oxen, ploughs, and farms...
To their sick-houses and their dying...
To their schools and books and students.
And it followed them.
Because now it had gone to their very center.
Somehow they lived on. But...sometimes they still wondered...and
THEY WERE NEVER THE SAME AGAIN!
We offer these pages as a quick meeting format or for you to enjoy by yourself.
In early November, I participated in the Latin American Maryknoll Society’s Regional Assembly and Retreat. Also invited were Sr. Jane Buellesbach, representing the Maryknoll Sisters, and Sam Stanton and Fr. Bill Voss for the Lay Missioners. It was an especially positive meeting wherein Maryknoll hospitality, genuine collaboration and easy, unadorned camaraderie were manifestly present every day. We can’t know for sure if this was a foretaste of things to come within Maryknoll, but it was very encouraging.
Being Maryknoll Affiliates has connected us with peace-building, so we were primed for the new JustFaith module, Just Peacemaking. Karen Bortvedt, who was back home visiting her parents and recuperating from a broken foot, also joined the group.
Our chapter was blessed in November by a visit with Maryknoll Lay Missioners Kathy Bond and Flavio Rocha. We learned how they live in mission in Brazil and were inspired to find new ways to be missionaries in our own area. During and after a potluck dinner, they shared their experiences.
Kathy and Flavio are long-time Maryknoll Lay Missioners in Sao Paolo. Kathy has been a Lay Missioner for 20 years and Flavio for 10. Meeting in Brazil, Flavio’s native country, they married 13 years ago, and have a daughter, Maya, 8.
After arriving in Tanzania in early 2013, I began assisting at the Kirumba Vocational School at St. Joseph Parish, Mwanza, for teenagers who are not able to pursue further academic studies. They learn cookery, tailoring, knitting and embroidering, as well as hospitality, hotelier, and wait service, hoping these skills will help them get a job. Some students may intern as a hotel maid or wait staff person while continuing to take English and mathematics classes.
The Call to Action Conference (C2A) in Milwaukee was a profound renewal of our baptismal call.
From Nancy Sylvester’s pre-conference session on compassionate conversing, to Miriam Therese Winter’s final keynote reminding us that though we have to live institutionally, we must never think institutionally, we were challenged to remember, “We are the Church.” Therefore, although we can rejoice in the freshness of Pope Francis, it is we who will bring the changes we want to see in the church. There is no stopping the Holy Spirit if we will just align ourselves with her.
Like many Affiliates, I have an indelible memory of hearing that President Kennedy had been shot. On November 22, 2013, in commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of Kennedy's assassination, we and people across the country, including some at the SOA Watch Vigil in Columbus GA, attended Readers Theater performances of Project Unspeakable. ProjectUnspeakable.org was inspired by the Orbis hardcover book, JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters, by James W. Douglass.
Special Prayer Request
Fr. Jim Madden, who founded the Maryknoll Affiliate Movement with Sr. Ellen McDonald, has notified us that he has cancer and asks for our prayers. Father Jim has remained in close contact with the Affiliate family since stepping down from his leadership position and has continued to offer support to us on many, many levels. It is difficult to find the words to express our gratitude to Jim or our concern in learning of this diagnosis. Our thoughts and our prayers are with you, Father Jim, throughout this time.
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Share Your Skills?
Order this one now! (By L. Susan Slavin and Coralis Salvador, Orbis, 2013.) And while you’re at it, order copies for your family and friends! You’ll want to share it without losing your copy.