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.
*Abridged from Tom Hastings’ post at HastingsNonviolence.blogspot.com/2017/10/this-land-is-your-land.html. Tom H. Hastings teaches Conflict Resolution at Portland State University and directs Oregon Peace Institute’s program, PeaceVoice.
I traveled to North Dakota to join others in supporting a gentle man who tried to help everyone. For that, he was convicted of several crimes and will be heading to a North Dakota prison.
Michael Foster was born and raised in Texas, in an oil family. His crime in North Dakota was turning off the Keystone pipeline in a symbolic but real call to all of us to do what we can to stop global climate chaos.
That North Dakota valve turn was one of five similar actions last October—two women, three men, five valves on lines in Washington, Montana, North Dakota, and Minnesota, all done in resonance with the Break Free from Fossil Fuels campaign.
We see the consequences of paying no attention to our oil consumption: Harvey drowns Houston, fires rip through the West, every hurricane is more intense than it otherwise would be, droughts last longer, lakes are drying up, the seas are rising and surging, and, with fracking, even earthquakes are no longer a pure act of God. Most previously natural disasters are now unnatural disasters, made worse by our hand more than the hand of God or Mother Nature.
Members of the NE Ohio chapter live near Cleveland and meet monthly in members’ homes. A couple members have retired, but most of them are still helping people on a daily basis in their professions as therapists, a nurse/yoga instructor, and a lawyer. They were quick to advocate for immigrants and refugees, gun control and concern about shootings, and the poor and hungry.
Curt and Jan Alberti and Pam Cibik were in the recent massive March for Our Lives in Chicago. Pam insisted, “We’ve got to support the young people who are demanding safety and better gun control.”
Kathy Ress participated the Ecumenical Advocacy Day in Washington DC—co-sponsored by the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns—that addressed both immigration and gun control. (Watch for her article, “Advocacy for Immigrants,” in the next issue.) She participates in a local group that succeeded after eight months and thousands of dollars in legal and other fees, in having one man released from ICE detention. Her parish is discerning being a sanctuary church.
Moving our Broader Community to Nonviolence and Peace
Sept. 21-23, 2018
All Maryknoll Affiliates are invited!
Friday, 6PM – Affiliate Social and casual dinner
Saturday, 9-4 – Active Nonviolence Workshop
Sunday, 12:30PM – Affiliate gathering and lunch
To RSVP, use the downloadable form.
What do the Orbis authors offer to us Affiliates, both as individuals and as an expression of Maryknoll, lately? Here are four books that are very different, yet each makes a significant contribution to the discussion of issues and concerns facing the Affiliate world of today.
The Courage To Be Happy, by Pope Francis, is written for youth by an old man who hasn’t forgotten the best parts of being young. It is a spirituality of ascent for people in the first half of life. Pope Francis both understands and appreciates what the Gospel is calling youth to. Perhaps some of us who have moved into the second half of life have forgotten to hold onto that enthusiastic hope that once inspired us. This book will rekindle the fire of missionary zeal in all of us.
Choosing Peace, edited by Marie Dennis. It’s said that Maryknollers are better at declaiming than proclaiming. Choosing Peace looks at our prophetic voice of declaiming violence and proclaiming just peace. This assemblage of letters, essays, and reflections, written in conjunction with the April 2016 Conference on Nonviolence and Just Peace, proclaims the Gospel through many examples of positive, proactive voices for peace while declaiming a “fallen world” of war and systemic violence.
The Catholic Ethicist in the Local Church, edited by Antonio Autiero and Laurenti Magesa, explores the relationship of the local church with the universal church as a basis for understanding the complex and dynamic ecclesiology which Pope Francis is asking us to not only appreciate but live. The existential periphery, (read: The Field Afar, Not So Far Afield, mission, where you and I live) becomes the center point of our lived church experience. The notion of local magisterium rests on this understanding. In our complex world, culture, economics, and social structure all influence our moral decisions. It is not possible or effective to attempt to make anything more than broad statements at the universal level. So we are asked to reflect upon where lies the moral magesterium responsibility. The book presents local issues and questions from around the globe to illustrate this as a more mature approach to what it means to be church.
A side note: one interesting essay in this book deals with “digital localities.” With the growth of virtual communities and new ways of being Maryknoll Affiliates, what are the ethical questions surrounding the growth of the digital realities, electronic “places” with a sense of group identity. What are the components required for virtual communities to be real communities?
Cuentame: Narrative in the Ecclesial Present, by Natalia Imperatori Lee, is a “Latinx Church Experience for Gringos.” It introduced me to a whole vocabulary that I didn’t know that I need to know. This introduction to Latina/o church experience is written in English for an English-speaking audience. Imperatori Lee, of Cuban American heritage from Miami, uses narrative as a basis for her understanding of church. Our family story becomes the Story for us. Together our stories become the Story for the Church. And the Story is the truth, the Good News. Put in theological language, Sensus Fidelium is the basis of a narrative ecclesiology which the church has consistently taught to be infallible in its belief. Her narrative is an alternative story to the mainstream Catholic American story that has great truth and value. It places the sacredness of everyday life (lo cotidiano) as the source of holiness in the church. This storybook shares a vision that seems simple yet is profoundly perceptive. Imperatori Lee is a true teacher who puts rare understanding within the grasp of the many.
Affiliates receive 40% off at Orbisbooks.com.
The Affiliates of Santa Maria in Wilmington, NC, are currently involved in many activities. We prepare lunches for needy people who have no homes and we work together to help families in need by dispensing basic necessties. At the same time, we continue taking Communion to the Hispanics we find in the New Hanover Hospital. Here in Wilmington, we pray the rosary before Mass and attend the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament once a month. Blessings from all of our Chapter.
Gail Kelley adds that she has been invited to attend all the Wilmington Chapter meetings and made it to a recent meeting. She explains that Gloria Tan was the Chapter Coordinator for many years and attended an Affiliate conference with her. Since Gail accompanied the Spanish-speaking Wilmington Chapter during their first orientation, Gloria asked her to give a review orientation, which will happen soon, because only three of their current active membership participated in the first orientation.
Maryknoll Affiliate groups and Parish entities have been asking what it means to do mission in the modern day. Much has been said in recent years at Affiliate gatherings about the Third Wave, agreeing that we are in a new age of mission. There was a time when mission was the special domain of those in religious life. Bishop James E. Walsh of the North American Mission Society, better known as Maryknoll, once said, “To be a missioner is to go where you are needed but not wanted and to stay until you are wanted but not needed.” Pope Francis has called upon the church to begin a new chapter in evangelization; writing in Evangeli Gaudium, he reiterates the basic reality that we are all called to mission by virtue of our baptism. Thus, we must continue to go where we are needed—at home or abroad; perhaps wanted, perhaps not.
There are as many ways of doing mission as there are baptized individuals.
How do we do this? I believe the answer is personal and that many people are doing mission and not realizing it! My prime example of this is those who volunteer in our local parishes, working in the food pantries, teaching CCD, etc. If that’s not mission, nothing is.
I have been involved with the Affiliate Movement since it began. The first Affiliate Board, begun by the Maryknoll Fathers with Jim Madden as Coordinator in September 1991, was very different from the present one, with only representatives of the Society. In April of 1992, I joined Sr. Ellen McDonald, MM, at the third Board meeting, in Chicago. Following this meeting, Sr. Ellen became Co-Coordinator of the Affiliate Movement, and I represented Full Circle. In June of 1994, I resigned and moved to Florida to take care of my mother who was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. At that time, there were thirteen Board members—seven were Affiliates and six were Maryknoll members, two from each entity. The present Board, with four Maryknoll entity members and eight Affiliates, has space for more Affiliates if you are interested in becoming a member.
When I first served on the Board, I belonged to the Westchester Affiliate Chapter. However, when I returned from Florida, Ronnie Gilligan invited me to join the Long Island Affiliate Chapter. There I have had the opportunity to help plan meetings, to create prayer services, to enter into community at our chapter meetings, and to engage in a short-term trip to Zimbabwe. This has enriched me, deepened my spirituality and enabled me to bear witness to the gift of Maryknoll in my life. This group supported me as I coordinated the first Memorial Mass for deceased Affiliates held at Maryknoll on March 4, 2017, an event that I hope will be repeated at Maryknoll or at a regional meeting.
In April of 2016, with the encouragement of the Long Island Affiliates, I was accepted as a member of the current Affiliate Board. The Affiliate Board is, I feel, the nucleus of the Affiliate Movement; a unique representation of Affiliate chapters who gather from all over the world together with members of the other Maryknoll entities. Membership in local chapters can be insular. Belonging to the Board is an opportunity to engage in the ongoing projects of Affiliates at both the national and the international level. It enables me to connect with other groups, renew my commitment to Maryknoll, and enter more fully into the movement that I helped to start more than twenty-five years ago.
The May/June 2018 Misioneros Magazine of Maryknoll features MAC 2017 and also tells of an Affiliate in Peru. See the articles online:
The Maryknoll Sisters’ Mission Institute offers two more months of great workshops. Coming in July/August:
* July 8-13 – Maureen O’Connell, PhD
From the Upper Room to Pentecost: A Feminist Ethic of Racial Mercy
* July 15-20 – John Dear, MA
Following Jesus on the Path of Nonviolence
* July 22-27 – Larry Lewis, MM, PhD
Our Incompleteness is our Dignity: Faith Confirmed in Film
At Los Altos:
* Aug. 14-17 – Maria Cimperman, RSCJ, PhD
Creating Communities of Hope on a Global Scale
* Aug. 19-24 – Maria Cimperman, RSCJ, PhD
Creating Communities of Hope on a Global Scale
For application forms, on-line registration, and program descriptions, go to:
Or you may obtain information by telephone: (914) 941-0783 ext.5671
Co-editor Paula here, filling in for co-editor Mary as she and her husband Manny are on the road. I like to refer to them as the Affiliate ambassadors-at-large.
This issue is filled with Action and Community. Chapters from South Korea to Petaluma to Houston have reflected on their Affiliate lives. Mary and Manny report on chapters they visited as they crossed the US to attend the Maryknoll Affiliates’ April board meeting at the Maryknoll Sisters’ in Ossining, NY. That included participating in the Northeast Region’s conference on Balance (see page 1). To round out this issue, we have invitations to attend the Maryknoll Sisters’ Mission Institute, to take an online class, to get involved in Quo Vadis, or to read a good book.
On Mary and Manny’s return trek, they have visited several more chapters, which we’ll hear about in the next issue. As they travel, they are organizing a Northwest Regional mini-conference on active nonviolence for September 22 in Portland. (See this page!) Mary says, “Y’all come!”
To read this issue in print form, you may download a pdf of the May/June 2018 Not So Far Afield.
Participants brought their personal symbols of balance to illustrate the Northeast Regional Meeting’s theme. Holding the Maryknoll Affiliate meeting on Earth Day, April 21, provided an extra dimension, as did welcoming several members of the newest Affiliate Chapter from Springfield, MA. Over 50 people attended, including the Affiliate Board, with 15 chapters represented.
After an opening song and prayer for the Earth, Sr. Norie Mojada, MM, presented a brief review of Theory U from the Presencing Institute (www.presencing.org/#/aboutus/theory-u). About 25,000 people, including some Affiliates, had studied Theory U in an on-line course in 2015, and the Maryknoll Sisters are using the concept to aid in evolving their community. Theory U is a process which helps users open their mind, heart, and will to accept new input and let the future emerge.
Quoting Liz Sweeney, SSJ, who wrote on a model for communal discernment through contemplative dialogue (Summer 2014 LCWR Occasional Papers – see https://lcwr.org/item/summer-2014-discernment), Sr. Norie stressed the importance of contemplation and contemplative dialog to help us stay open to input from others and to listen with our hearts.
In small groups we examined and shared our individual spirituality as Affiliates. Many mentioned their connection with the earth and all its creatures, social activism, and an appreciation for an evolutionary consciousness. We discussed what each of us saw as Maryknoll spirituality: including global vision, care for creation, respect for other faith traditions, and especially hospitality.
In discussing their chapter’s balance of the four pillars, Affiliates said their chapter provides a community, nurturing them in ways their parish community does not. The Affiliate pillar of Global Vision was also very important. Every group emphasized Spirituality, but there was a lot of discussion about Action. Affiliates are very active, but chapters don’t usually have a project they all work on. Several groups thought that if their chapter had one project that they all worked on, it would help unify and animate their chapter.
After saying Mass, Fr. Russ Feldmeier, MM, helped us close the day, praying for several who would soon have operations and sending our blessings to all those we carry in our hearts.
In early January 2013, I toured the Northwest Detention Center, one of the largest in the US (capacity 1,575 detainees), with a group of people interested in visiting detainees who have no family or friends in the area. The NW Detention Center, a for-profit facility, is located in the industrial area of Tacoma, WA, without any public transportation or services. It is operated by GEO Group (NYSE symbol GEO) under contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), under the Department of Homeland Security.
A not-for-profit organization, Advocates for Immigrant in Detention Northwest (www.aidnw.org), located in Tacoma, trains volunteer visitors and assigns a detainee whom they visit frequently until the detainee is released or deported. Other not-for-profit organizations also have programs for visiting detainees at NW Detention Center.
Several of the North Bay Affiliates had been on mission in southeast Asia. Now their mission not so far afield is helping a Haitian refugee family in California. Last November, the NSFA told about Bob and Nancy McFarland being willing to open their home to a refugee family.
Nancy and Bob had begun to work with a rapid response team to help undocumented immigrants. One family who fled Haiti for their safety had traveled through many countries before reaching California. They learned that this family of four—a father, his wife who was 9 months pregnant, and their 2- and 4-year-old children—was sleeping on half of the living room floor of someone else’s apartment. Even though the McFarlands had health concerns and would soon be traveling to the 2017 MAC in Guatemala, they had a spare bedroom and could not refuse to help.
The McFarlands’ cautious “Yes” was echoed throughout the community. They were gratified when 17 of their associates immediately volunteered to help materially and with transportation. The father, Jean, spoke to another faith community that collected $1,800 to help the family pay expenses. Another Affiliate gave a car he could no longer use to the family. Now Jean has passed his written driver’s test but not yet the actual driving test allowing him to use the car he’s been given.
The family is applying for asylum because of the violence they experienced which forced them to flee Haiti. Although lawyers volunteered some of their time, the asylum application will still cost about $5,000. Affiliates transported and accompanied the family to the immigration hearing, carrying the 25 pounds of paper applications for the 4 refugees.
“A healthy baby was born to the family and it was like a real Christmas story. Jesus was a refugee,” Nancy reminisced.
The community has come together to support the family of five. That evening during our pot luck dinner, Bob took a phone call and made a quick exit to drive Jean to his new job.
Helping the refugees has reinvigorated this Affiliate chapter. Their presentation last fall about immigration issues at a local parish has attracted several new members. They have connected with other organizations who are also concerned about immigrants and refugees. These Affiliates remember their immigrant roots and eagerly share their love, time, and energy.
The Korea Affiliates held their monthly meeting on April 7, 2018, at the Maryknoll Sisters’ residence in Seoul. Fifteen members, including two newcomers, spent the afternoon sharing on their personal lives and actions since the last meeting a month ago. Russ Feldmeier attended and presided at Mass.
The questions below were used as a framework for the sharing:
They had a wide-ranging discussion. One person talked about the need to listen to the people we serve. He works with youth at Sogang University, a Jesuit University in Seoul, and facilitates pilgrimages and other programs. Others spoke of the value of the Maryknoll family and the way Maryknoll missioners in Korea influenced them. In general, they talked about the value of the Affiliate chapter where we can all meet and which helps us to grow. Since this was right after Easter, they talked about the Paschal Mystery of new life even through suffering.
The hot issue for the day was the #MeToo movement, which has had a powerful impact in Korea recently. It has been an opportunity for Koreans to deal with the patriarchal aspect of Korean society, and a number of the Affiliates shared on the impact it has been having on their own lives and on the society at large.
There was a great deal of energy at the meeting, and the sharing was rich.
A friend asked Bertha, a Maryknoll Lay Missioner in Tanzania for many years, how Tanzanians interpret the Good Samaritan story. Seeing her answer as relevant to all in mission, she shares her thoughts with us.
It is an immense challenge for missioners to respond appropriately to cultures that we don’t fully understand or appreciate. This challenge is acute for short-term missioners but affects all. I was particularly sensitive to the priests who had served in Tanzania for decades but who had derived their understanding of the culture from men.
This question evoked many memories for me. The interpretation that to Tanzanians, “my neighbor is whoever helps me,” rather than “whoever needs help,” is understandable. Colonial experience impressed on Tanzanians the self-image of helplessness, neediness, and dependence on foreigners. Though they spontaneously reach out to each other without even thinking about it, there’s a difference between how Tanzanians relate to each other and how they view themselves in relation to the rest of the world.
My Good Samaritan story: Just after an RCIA class focusing on the Good Samaritan parable, my class and I encountered an old woman passed out in a drunken stupor on the street outside the church. Having just pondered the parable, we couldn’t rightly just pass by. Because everyone else knew the woman and her history, passersby just laughed and went on their way. The Tanzanian catechist offered no solution to the situation. So, several of my young adult students stayed with her while I walked the five blocks to my home to get my car. On my return, the students lifted the lady into my car. I drove to the trail that led up to her home and the students carried her up the steep hill to her home.
I don’t recall that we discussed this encounter during our next class, but I still distinctly remember the event. Had I not been the class facilitator, I fear I would have joined the passersby and gone on home without intervening. I still worry that by getting my car, I again taught that Tanzanians are dependent on outside help, that they are excused from helping.
What do you think a missioner should do in this situation?