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Monday, 10 November 2014 00:00

Mission and Wholemaking in a Time of Uncertainty

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Ann Carr – Maryknoll Affiliate Board Chair

Several challenging and grace-filled moments are currently shaping the life of the Affiliate movement: our June MAC 2014 conference, the recent Maryknoll Society Chapter, the Maryknoll Congregation General Assembly (GA), and world events ranging from tragic wars in Syria to the inspiring leadership of Pope Francis. Aware of these influences, the Affiliate Board gathered October 17-19 to engage in a process of visioning, direction setting, and needs assessment for the Affiliate movement. We want to listen deeply and create a process inviting all Affiliates to discern with us. Where and how do we see the Affiliate movement now? How are recent experiences shaping our future direction?

 We received reports from Board member John Meyer and Regional Coordinator (RC) John Moritz, respective representatives to the Society Chapter and Sisters’ GA. Each felt welcomed and shared his gratitude for the inspirational stories and courageous visioning of Maryknoll missioners. Already happening in some ways, a strong desire for collaboration with the Affiliates is emerging. Believing there will be more opportunity and invitation, we ask: How might we hope to respond? What is our capacity to enter into mutual and life-giving collaboration?

Next we began our visioning process. We were very fortunate to have Mary Ragan, a gifted facilitator and long-time friend of Maryknoll, accompany us. We attempted to: (1) understand the present reality of the Affiliates (How do we build relationships, local connections, collaboration? How does our flexibility allow for initiative and creativity? What is the right balance of openness and structure? How do we embrace the gift of uncertainty?), (2) open ourselves to recent events, new voices that are shaping us, and (3) plan for steps into the future. We asked: What do we want to say to the Chapters? What do we hope to hear and learn from them? How might we celebrate and challenge ourselves as a movement?

We identified four focus areas to discuss: 

1. Maryknoll Affiliate Identity: How are the Affiliates a unique expression of the Maryknoll charism? How do we understand and strengthen our relationships as Affiliates to Affiliates, Affiliates to Maryknollers? To explore this with you, we envision a two-fold process: an individual survey of self-assessment and a Chapter discernment and reflection process. We want to explore together who we are now. An ad hoc committee from the Board (Mary Massaro, Dave Schaffner, Rich Lessard, Joe Symkowick, myself) and Executive Coordinator Bob Short will be working on this; please look for future communications from us. 

The Regional Model: In 2011, we affirmed that the regional model helped strengthen and support local and regional connections. Three years later, as we continue to dialogue with the Regional Coordinators (RCs), we’d like to hear from everyone about the strengths and challenges of the RC model. Is it working? Does the model bring value? Does it enhance the lives of the Chapters and individual Affiliates?

Evaluation of MAC 2014/Plans for MAC 2017: Reviewing the composite evaluation of the June MAC 2014 conference, we were very impressed that 45% of attendees gave feedback! Wow! Obviously the MAC continues to be a very meaningful event. We also explored various options for MAC 2017. Several Chapters have inquired about hosting MAC 2017, and a subcommittee (Patty Barneond, Rich Lessard) and Bob Short will investigate our possibilities. 

Feedback from the Latin American Chapters: With additional input brought to us by Patty Barneond (Guatemala), we were thoughtfully challenged by some of the Latin American Affiliates who believe the Affiliate movement is often US based and has a US way of being.  The Board affirmed a strong desire for the Affiliates to be a truly global and integrated  movement.  We hope to seek together how we might connect more thoroughly with all Affiliates, whether they be in Latin America, Asia, Africa or the US.  

We very much hope to be carried together with you into the future by a new wave of mission. May we be open to the Spirit and the surprises that await us.



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