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.
Kevin collaborated regularly with the Seattle Affiliates from 2011-2015 and currently with the Affiliates in Chicago, where he now works.
Reflecting on testimony from residents of Charlottesville following the recent racist demonstrations, I am struck by a major disconnect. While many white residents are quick to say, “This is not us,” their black neighbors point out that racism is indeed very much a part of Charlottesville: African-Americans are the targets of 80 percent of traffic stops, despite making up only 20 percent of the local population. The same white residents who showed up to protest racism also regularly reject their appeals for reforms in education, employment, and housing policies that disproportionately harm people of color.
Like you, I am trying to make sense of Charlottesville and its aftermath. But after nearly a dozen years of stepping beyond my comfort zone to see the world from different angles, I recognize how disturbingly common it is for people to live in close proximity but very different worlds. I offer some insights that may help folks respond to this moment with greater consciousness of racial injustice.
The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons opened for signature at United Nations headquarters in New York on 20 September 2017 and will remain open indefinitely. Once 50 nations have ratified or acceded to it, it will enter into force. The US has not yet ratified.
This prayer service is derived from Pax Christi International’s Interfaith Prayer Service for Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty Negotiations, conducted on March 28, 2017, at the Isaiah Wall, NYC. Your chapter might use it at a chapter meeting or arrange an interfaith prayer service in your area.
Sr. Arlene Trant MM, recently returned from mission in Macau, reached out to us for ideas and help with Mission Education in the US, her new assignment with the Maryknoll Sisters. She offers a few areas for brainstorming:
Until a few weeks ago, there were two Affiliate virtual chapters. The first has six members crossing three U.S. time zones and has met three times. The second is a contemplative virtual chapter that focuses on reflective conversation and prayer. Members from both of these chapters have spoken very positively about how meaningful the experiences have been.
On Sunday, October 1st, a third, hybrid Affiliate chapter entered the virtual Maryknoll Affiliate world. Approximately 15 members from three continents and as many countries: Kenya, Germany, and the US—crossing too many time zones to count—held their first meeting. This hybrid virtual chapter evolved from the creative vision and organizational acumen of Gerald Grudzen, PhD, and Marita Grudzen, who have been connected to Maryknoll in several capacities for many years.
A cluster of San Diego Affiliates joined several hundred people at the USD Peace and Justice Auditorium October 6 & 7 to reflect on this topic.
Maria Stephan of the Institute for Peace gave a splendid opening talk on “The Nonviolent Option: The Power of Active Nonviolence.” She reminded us of the many under-reported examples of effective social change through nonviolent movements around the world in recent years. Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana gave the closing talk, “Christian Nonviolence and Just Peace.” He heads the Vatican’s Human Development office, which includes the Justice and Peace outreach initiative encouraged by Pope Francis. This event follows up on a Vatican session held a year ago, also organized by Maryknoll and Pax Christi co-president Marie Dennis. Sandwiched between the two public talks was an all-day seminar for some 15 Catholic theologians and peace activists with an equal number of military officers, most of them faculty members (or retired from) teaching ethics at Army, Navy, and Air Force academies. Fr. Bill Headley and I participated in the whole event.
Members of the North Bay Affiliate Chapter, Nancy and Bob McFarland, Leslee Coady, Rich Younkin, and Marie Wren planned this event at St. Isabella’s parish in San Rafael, CA, to impart information and to inspire involvement and action. Presenters included a Rwandan refugee priest, Carolyn Trumble—a Maryknoll mission promoter, staff members of Catholic Charities, an immigration lawyer, and Maryknoll Affiliates.
Fr. Samuel, a priest at St. Isabella’s and a son of a Rwandan refugee, was born in a Ugandan refugee camp. He inspired the audience with stories about ministering as a priest to refugees in Uganda and emphasized that the most important thing to give refugees is hope, over and above any material or financial help.
Two speakers from Catholic Charities told of the legal help they offer to immigrants and of social services for a local community of immigrant youth who need help with reading skills. They also addressed the current issue of the executive order revoking DACA. They invited the audience to visit the local community center where youth are tutored.
An immigration attorney and member of the local Organizing Committee, emphasized the need to listen to the stories of immigrants and to determine their immediate needs. She told of immigrants whose cars were impounded because they did not have driver licenses. The Committee helped them.
Affiliate Bob McFarland spoke about his and his wife Nancy’s involvement with a Rapid Response team that observes and documents raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. They also support families who may be left without a breadwinner because of the raids. Bob and Nancy are willing to take such a family into their home.
Some parishioners were interested in volunteering and will be invited to our next Affiliate meeting where we can explore their interests and where to use their skills. Although the evening addressed immigrants and refugees from other countries, we were keenly and sadly aware that there were many “refugees” from nearby Napa and Sonoma because of the devastating fires. Any of us could be refugees.
The Maryknoll Affiliate Book Group has been discussing the experiences of immigrants in the US, guided by Miguel De La Torre’s Trails of Hope and Terror. That book emphasizes that Jesus was an undocumented refugee in Egypt and offers Christian responses to the alien.
Now we see people of color detained and arrested as they leave the county court house or go to work. Citizen protesters have been arrested as they block the path of Immigration Control and Enforcement (ICE) vans. Immigrant attendance at church services and classes is down, perhaps due to fear of being in public. Executive orders have rescinded the DACA program that helps young immigrants, Dreamers, legally remain in the US to study or work.
But hopeful signs abound. In October, California, with over 2 million undocumented, enacted a law barring police from asking people about their immigration status or participating in federal immigration enforcement activities. Jail officials will only transfer inmates to federal authorities if they have been convicted of certain crimes. Oregon’s law prevents using state resources to enforce federal laws.
Kathy Gribble, from Fox Cities Chapter, WI, reports that the ESTHER community visited a legislative hearing concerning pending legislation. One bill proposes that all government officials would be permitted (not mandated) to inquire on the immigration status of persons they might encounter in any dealing. This bill would allow targeting and profiling people of color, adding another level of fear as they move in the shadows of the community. The good news is that only one speaker favored the measure and about 25, including the Wisconsin Catholic Conference, eloquently spoke against it.
Nationwide, an estimated 800 churches have declared themselves Sanctuary Churches, although only few are house threatened immigrants. Some groups help Dreamers pay the $465 fee for DACA renewals. Communities have participated in Welcoming Week (welcomingamerica.org) to help newcomers of all backgrounds feel valued and fully participate in the community. Welcoming Week coincides with the Campaign Nonviolence week of actions and with International Day of Peace each September.
Meet Gerry Mullaney
Gerry hales from the Northeast Ohio Maryknoll Affiliate Chapter and was part of the original core group that sought recognition as a chapter. After a lengthy application/preparation period, they were recognized in March, 2014. The Northeast Ohio Chapter proudly focuses on the Global Vision pillar with multiple travels and subsequent connections with missioners in Tanzania, Cambodia, and Bolivia. The Northeast Ohio Chapter also goes local with efforts to support a parish hunger program and more recent activity to address the cruelty of US immigration policy.
Gerry became an Affiliate Board member in the spring of 2016. Now working only part-time as a mental health therapist, Gerry has more time to devote to Affiliate matters. He is on the Nominating Committee of the Affiliate Board and says, “Keep those nominations coming!!!” Beyond this, Gerry has a strong interest in furthering the connections between individual Affiliate chapters and missioners in the field. This is consistent with the Northeast Ohio Chapter’s emphasis on Global Vision and with the Maryknoll Affiliate call to “go beyond borders... to walk with the poor and excluded, and to strive for peace and justice for all of God’s creation.”
* Affiliate Board Topic *
Meeting in Guatemala before MAC 2017, the Board will discuss Board, Regional Coordinator, and Affiliate ideas on our 5-Year Vision. Chapters and individuals are encouraged to help develop our 5-Year Vision, possibly using the “ Easy Meeting” in the Sept/Oct 2017 NSFA, and share their thoughts with their regional coordinators.
Ken Butigan, connected with Pace e Bene (http://www.paceebene.org/), gave a lively and inspiring talk on Campaign Nonviolence. He said violence causes racism, poverty and war. We need to say no to violence and respect our adversary as a loving person in God’s eyes. He uses the acronym CLARA when dealing with conflict:
Learn your feelings about the situation
Articulate your truth
Receive the truth of the other person, and
Accomplish some dialog by acknowledging both parts of the truth.
We then watched a TED talk on nonviolence (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJSehRlU34w), by Erica Cenoweth, in which she said nonviolence has been shown to be more effective in campaigns for change in governments than violence. Civil resistance works.
These Maryknoll Affiliates passed away in 2017:
Warren Bowhall, Albany Chapter, April 17
Mary D’Arcy, Subway Chapter, NY, August 2
Carrolyn Williams, New Jersey Chapter, September 16
Maryknoll introduced me to the use of the word “reality” to refer to the experience of a particular culture or social group. “Reality” shows on TV have been very popular, but I question their authenticity. Even if they are not purposefully scripted, the act of observing a phenomenon can influence its outcome. Now it seems we are all living in a “reality” show manipulated by our national and international politics. This show ignores the reality of our families and friends and leaves us to deal with the serious situations in our communities.
This issue of the NSFA touches on many of the situations that impact our reality as Affiliates: violence and weapons, scapegoating, consumerism, evolving gender identities, immigration, etc. We can take charge and evolve our own reality. What is real now? What do we want to become real?
Articles in this issue:
Buen Vivir Inspires Heartfelt Strategies - "We all share our humanity and we all need each other."—Dan Heuer
Nuclear Option Action Alert - "The Maryknoll Office of Global Concerns urges us to pray and contact our government representatives asking for diplomacy with North Korea."
Reflections on Our Annual “Home” Visit - "From being in mission these last 15 plus years, I know that entering another culture to accompany people is anything but easy."—Mary Gill
Meet Your MAC 2017 Liturgists & Musicians - The special talents of these Guatemalans will enrich your conference experience...
Easy Meeting: Visioning the Affiliates - “Where do you think we will be in 5 years?” —Dave Schaffner
Scapegoats and Nonviolence - "Being an immigrant without documents is not a matter of national security; it’s a matter of paperwork."—Joe Hastings
2017 Campaign Nonviolence - ...we encourage Affiliate Chapters and Affiliates to participate...
About Growth and Evolution - "I can see that my ideas of gender and roles have changed radically."—Kitty
From the Board and Executive Coordinator:
And don't miss our Features:
To view this issue in its print form, download the September/October 2017 Not So Far Afield PDF.
Rosa Beatriz, the lead person on the Guatemalan Conference Committee planning for MAC 2017, asked a few registrants to respond to two of three questions. Some respondents shared their answers with Executive Coordinator Bob Short. Below are parts of three Affiliates’ responses to one of her questions:
In what ways would I like to see the theme “Buen Vivir” (Living in Harmony with All) become part of the commitment of the Affiliate Movement?
The Maryknoll Office of Global Concerns urges us to pray and contact our government representatives asking for diplomacy with North Korea (http://maryknollogc.org/alerts/us-and-north-korea-call-prayer-and-action).
An additional approach was introduced by Senator Edward Markey (D-Mass) and Representative Ted Lieu (D-CA) “Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017.” H.R.669 would prohibit the first-use of nuclear strike by the United States unless Congress first declares war and expressly authorizes such a strike (https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/669). The bill has 47 co-sponsors but has been referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.