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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At their most recent gathering of the first virtual chapter*, members spontaneously surfaced the thought that maybe there are just too many words attached to almost everything these days… dishonest political words, manipulative marketing words, sanctimonious religious words, ego words that compare, compete, connive, contrast, contrive and, perhaps the biggest offenders, all those unsettling words and scenarios that incessantly play out in our heads. Understandably, some of you reading this might be feeling that this article is itself quickly becoming an offender in this verbosity plague.
Words are important. Poetic, truthful words, and others like, thank you, forgive me, I love you, whoops, and, for carnivores, medium rare, surely have a place. Still, we haven’t done very well at sticking to the good words. How can we best get hold of all this?
Over-explanation separates us
from astonishment. – Eugene Ionesco
As the conversation evolved, we talked (admittedly, in words) about those wordless spaces – walking in the forest, standing by the ocean, listening to music, sitting in a chapel, holding a newborn – wherein peace washes over us and we come to know in a different, peaceful and compelling way. You too might be tempted to add to the list. Hopefully, neither Chardonnay nor Merlot would get many honest votes in this regard.
Mostly, our time together focused on how each of us has come to a place of deeper knowing. Jim Coady insightfully added that almost always, “We learn more from experiences than from documents.” Although not physically present in this virtual community, Richard Rohr helped us out when he wrote that, “Knowing is the empty space around the words, allowing God to fill in all the gaps in an ‘unspeakable’ way.” That could serve as a definition for faith.
From a distance, all this might seem a bit fuzzy and/or dense. Even that characterization will be euphemistic for some. Still, as 2019 begins to unfold and all of us in Maryknoll strive to live with integrity, love, and groundedness in these very uncertain, noisy times, we can gain strength and courage by visiting these wordless spaces. I think that those in the Contemplative Virtual Chapter would concur.
*Currently, three chapters meet virtually: one of Affiliates who've moved, the Contemplative Virtual Chapter, and an international chapter.
Lord, make us instruments of your peace.
Help us to recognize the evil latent in a communication that does not build communion.
Help us to remove the venom from our judgements.
Help us to speak about others as our brothers and sisters.
You are faithful and trustworthy; may our words be seeds of goodness for the world:
where there is shouting, let us practice listening;
where there is confusion, let us inspire harmony;
where there is ambiguity, let us bring clarity;
where there is exclusion, let us offer solidarity;
where there is sensationalism, let us use sobriety;
where there is superficiality, let us raise real questions;
where there is prejudice, let us awaken trust;
where there is hostility, let us bring respect;
where there is falsehood, let us bring truth.
On a Friends Across Borders (FAB) trip in Tanzania, we listened to Maryknoll Lay Missioner Liz Mach and those being helped at Bugando Medical Center in Mwanza. After hearing their stories and the wonderful work of Liz and others at the hospital, my friend Kathy turned to me and said, “We are with saints.”
The new Maryknoll Affiliates Companions program can provide Affiliate chapters and companions an opportunity to be with saints over time and space far exceeding a short FAB visit and a single hospital tour. And, by the way, the saints can also include our sisters and brothers worldwide with whom Maryknollers walk.
There is such potential in the Companions program to add to the richness of the Affiliate experience. This can take the form of spiritual wisdom, support, and guidance from a Father, Brother, Sister or Lay Missioner. It can also expand our global awareness of the struggle and the witness in Maryknoll mission sites worldwide. Then there is the potential for larger action on the part of Affiliate chapters, whether locally or globally, as we continue to do our best to advance God’s kingdom in the world.
As an Affiliate Regional Coordinator, I travel to Maryknoll in Ossining, NY, at least once a year to attend a joint Regional Coordinator/Board Meeting. Every time I go there, I am struck by the wisdom and grace that I find in the Maryknollers who are there. Just one example of this is my second cousin, Fr. Frank “Pancho” Higdon, a Maryknoll Priest now residing there. It is always a joy for me to spend time with him. We both get energized by the sharing of our ideas and experiences.
At the Affiliate Board Meeting that I attended in October, we split into small groups for discussion and planning purposes. Each small group was invited to develop an idea to test—a prototype–that might bless the Affiliate movement. In our small group, I shared that I would like to develop a program that might allow all Affiliate chapters to benefit from the great wisdom that Maryknollers have. Some chapters, like mine in Florida, didn’t have any such connection. I believed that both the Maryknollers and the chapters would benefit greatly from more frequent sharing.
My hope is that connections will be made around the world between Maryknoll Affiliates and the missioners with whom we share the Maryknoll charism.—Paula Schaffner
My group—Ralph Maughan, Jean Menton, Gerry Mullaney, Paula Schaffner, and I—drafted a plan for a Chapter Companions Program, for which we agreed to be the core team. This program allows chapters to ask for a Maryknoller to be their companion. A chapter and its companion could communicate by email, phone, mail, WhatsApp, or Skype. If possible, the companion could visit the chapter.
Depending on their time and energy, a chapter companion could provide a chapter with an opening or closing prayer, or give them information on a topic to discuss at a meeting. Perhaps the companion could sometimes join the meeting, possibly by Skype. The chapter coordinator might want to ask the companion for advice relative to a chapter issue. The companion could pray for the chapter, and the chapter could pray for the companion. The hope would be that this mutual relationship would bloom and grow, and be meaningful and enriching to all concerned.
As of mid-December, the Sisters, the Priests and Brothers, and the Lay Missioners have all agreed to participate. We are excited about the positive response we have received! Now we are working to get the word out to all chapters, wherever they are, that they can have a Maryknoller as a companion. Some chapters already have a Maryknoller who is actively involved with them. We hope that these chapters will “sign on” also, and just let us know about their existing chapter companion.
On Sunday, November 11, ten Affiliates, along with our own Father Gerry Kelly, MM, gathered in Brazoria County, Texas, to answer the call of the poor. Brazoria County is south of Houston, and, like Houston, was heavily impacted by the flooding associated with Hurricane Harvey. Paula & Dave Schaffner came from California, Mary & John Moritz from Florida, Bob Short from Connecticut, Ron Guidry from New York, and Fr. Gerry, Bob & Ruth Kleeman, and Judy & Dick Horstman from Houston.
This has been a busy year for us, with involvement in several issues, but also a time for celebration.
Having served nine years in Tanzania as a Maryknoll Lay Missioner, I return annually to visit my favorite project, Huruma, a Special Education Unit. This year I visited in August. As we start a new school year here, Huruma students are well into their second semester. So many awe-inspiring developments in the past year!
Beginning January 2019, five elementary schools in our district have been selected to begin inclusion of students with disabilities. At least fifteen Huruma deaf and/or physically impaired students in grades 4-7 will begin attending classes at Pasiansi Elementary School, enthusiastically welcomed by the Head Teacher.
Training in life skills is now possible because of a donor-built wall keeping out the goats, cows and careless passersby. The garden begun in April survived the dry season, providing greens for the students’ daily meal, as well as food for their families, with enough left for sale. Avocado trees and flowers flourish. The seven tire swings bring joy to the students. It was great to see teachers take students outside for instruction.
In addition to the gardening program, parents are promoting a peanut butter industry. Carpentry is picking up again. Perhaps tailoring will be able to resume also.
My heart overflows with gratitude for the dedicated staff at Huruma and our generous donors who make it possible.
The one sad spot is that staff did not receive a raise in July to offset inflation. To remedy that, it’s imperative that we have a successful Taste of Tanzania on February 16, 2019. Can’t attend? Participate by sending your donation to Huruma Chapter KILEO, PO Box 244, Cornelius, OR 97113.
The Maryknoll Affiliate Pillars of Spirituality, Community, Global Vision, and Action are all great topics for an Affiliate meeting, especially when inviting new people who may not know much about Maryknoll.
At our Affiliate luncheon on the last day of the Northwest Mission Nonviolence mini regional conference, we invited visitors to join us and we focused on the Maryknoll Affiliates’ pillar of Global Vision. To emphasize Global Vision, we planned our meal to have a Middle Eastern flavor.
Catherine “Kitty” Madden has lived and worked in Nicaragua since 1986, first as a Maryknoll Lay Missioner, then as a Maryknoll Affiliate. Read her unabridged article at https://maryknollogc.org/article/nicaragua-speaking-truth-power.
In August, we gathered to mourn the death of our neighbor, “Juan,” killed by a sniper who fired on a peaceful protest, and to share our sympathies with his mother, wife, and children.
Just last April, Nicaragua was still hailed as “the most peaceful country in Central America.” Many people entered the country each day, to provide humanitarian aid, to enjoy its beauty and the people’s warm hospitality or to invest in its thriving economy. On the surface, things seemed quite perfect! However, just as with its volcanoes, something very charged was growing beneath the surface. No one could have imagined the catastrophic changes about to emerge.
In 32 years, I lived under the revolutionary Sandinista government in the 1980s. The FSLN (Sandinista national liberation front) had toppled the dictator Anastasio Somoza and his family dynasty in an insurrection that claimed 50,000 lives. In the 1980s, I anguished at the US backing (if not instigation) of the Contra War that ended in 1990, after taking another 30,000 lives and maiming thousands of others.
I had been involved with the Maryknoll Affiliates since the first conference of Maryknoll Affiliates held here at Maryknoll and was a part-time member of the Westchester Chapter before I returned to Korea. In Korea, some other Sisters and I decided to invite the Maryknoll Fathers in Korea to join us in starting a Maryknoll Affiliate Chapter there. However, it was not accepted by some of the members, although a couple of Maryknoll Fathers, including Russ Feldmeier, joined us occasionally.
The Maryknoll Sisters decided to have a retreat with the prospective interested members, and at the end of the retreat, we explained about the Affiliate program—its covenant, etc., and each one of them decided to join. There were about eight to ten members at that time. We had monthly reflection and study of the covenant and other articles about the Affiliate movement. They had faithfully come to monthly meetings, even though they were not officially accepted as Maryknoll Affiliates. After ten years, they finally got approval, when the Maryknoll Affiliate Board were given the responsibility to approve new chapters.
About my background: I was born in the Philippines. After I finished Nursing training and worked for a year in the Philippines, I ventured out to work in the US and Canada. It was in Montreal that I decided to become a missionary. I entered Maryknoll in 1976 and was assigned to Korea in 1978, where I worked in a Psychiatric Clinic. In 1984, I did pastoral ministry with the urban poor, living in an integrated community of clergy, religious and lay people. We made home visits, listened to people’s issues and needs, organized scripture study groups, and gave spiritual direction and pastoral counseling. From 1988-90, I continued to work with the urban poor and with Korean factory workers in other areas. Then I returned to Maryknoll, NY, for Congregational Service, and when I went back to Korea, I continued my work with women and also with migrant workers and women married to Koreans. After several years I returned to NY to do another Congregational Service and later on was elected to our leadership.
Because of my interest in our Affiliate movement, I am happy to be one of the liaisons to the Maryknoll Affiliates. It has been a delight to get to know many Affiliates and see the wonderful works you are involved in for the sake of the Gospel.
Several Affiliates have found Mission Institute programs
to be rich sources of strength and inspiration.
Which Mission Institute 2019 offering speaks to you?
May 12-17 All the Light We Need – Sr. Nancy Schreck, OSF, D.Min
May 19-24 Oasis in the Overwhelmed – Millie Grenough, MAT
June 7-9 Mission Empowered by Love – Marie Dennis, MA
50th Jubilee Celebration of Mission Institute – Carolyn Woo, PhD
June 16-21 Traveling the Road to Joy with Thomas Merton and Friends – Christine Bochen, PhD
June 23-28 Mission Inter Gentes: Egalitarian Missiology for the 21st Century - Diarmuid O’Murchu, MSC
July 7-12 Listening for the Heartbeat of God: A Celtic Spirituality – Rev. John Philip Newell, PhD, and Cami Twilling
July 14-19 Teilhard and Struggle: Drawn to the Road of Fire – Sr. Kathleen Duffy, SSJ, PhD
July 21-26 Sacred Heart of the Cosmos: Mission Spirit in Modern Time – Br. Mickey McGrath, OSFS, MFA
September: Programs in California
Find the complete schedule through September and application forms at:
Register online or request an application form by:
Phone: 914-941-7575 @ 5671
Mail: Maryknoll Mission Institute
PO Box 311
Maryknoll, NY 10545-0311
Coming from our regional conference on nonviolence and then the Affiliate Board and RC meeting, I am energized by the possibilities for connecting.
Rich Lessard, our newly elected Board Chair, seeks stronger connections among leadership, Affiliates, and chapters, with the other Maryknoll entities, and indeed among all of us as leaven in our communities.
In this issue, the Pinneys from Walla Walla, WA, who have worked quietly for years with their Guatemalan sister parish, now reach out to Affiliates. New Orleans Affiliates made friends with immigrants at the border. David Stocker asks us to join him at the November SOAWatch/Encuentro at the US-Mexico Border. Kevin Carroll, Maryknoll Office For Global Concerns, invites us to advocate for the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative, substituting Just Peace for Just War.
The Affiliate Movement empowers us to connect and to prototype our ideas for mission. At the Board meeting, we were urged not to fear failure as we develop prototypes, rather to fail fast, to iterate, and to progress, perhaps not perfectly, but one step at a time. We are seeing the fruits of a prototype virtual chapter. Technology means geography need not limit our connections. Mission is wherever we are and wherever we can connect!
Articles in this issue:
Our Long-Term Mission - "They found vibrant activity in Sololá but also great need."—Judy Pinney
The Art of Nonviolence - "The nonviolent direct action we have learned can be applied to many issues in our world, ... making our resistance creative and vibrant."—David Stocker
NW Regional Mini-Conference on Peace and Nonviolence - "[Rivera Sun's] statistics that nonviolence succeeds more often than violence for regime change, civil rights actions, and fair working conditions were heartening."—David Stocker
Mission in the Texas Rio Grande Valley - "Education, Engagement and Empowerment became a theme for me."—Janet Rousso
Texas-Mexico Border Accompaniment - "... I see faces of real people and their fortitude, belief in God, endurance."—Kim Nunez
Mass of Solidarity and Hope - "The palpable spirit of the gathering, rooted deep in our Catholic faith, was the desire to express concern for and solidarity with immigrants."—Joe Hastings
Peru Affiliates—Moving Spirituality - Carlos Apcho says he uses Google Translator to read the Not So Far Afield.
The Board and EC Speak:
On the Way from the Forum - "A movement must have connection, without which there can be no Movement."—Rich Lessard
In February, Chris Pinney, his son Zac, and four others visited programs, interviewed people, and videotaped footage in Sololá Diocese, Guatemala, the sister diocese of Spokane, WA, Diocese.They found vibrant activity in Sololá but also great need. The video was shown at the Sixth Annual Mission Celebration in Spokane, also attended by Ralph Maughan, Seattle Affiliate and Regional Coordinator, and Bob McFarland of North Bay, CA, Chapter.
Have you had an inspiring experience on a FAB trip? Do you know someone who may make a great lay missioner? We invite you to join one of our upcoming webinars—with me! I will share some of my experiences in Cambodia, as well as all the nuts and bolts of becoming a lay missioner.
The upcoming webinars are:
November 15, 5pm EST – login to zoom.us/j/995940923
December 2, 11am EST – login to zoom.us/j/326958422