Friday, 07 November 2014 00:00

Maryknoll Today and the Maryknoll of Tomorrow

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Sr. Ann Hayden, MM – Affiliate Board Member

It is clear that Maryknoll’s role in God’s mission is, like many human endeavors in these times, arriving at a “profound historical turning point.” This phrase was used by Joe Holland in his presentation at the 2012 “Mission in the Future” symposium, held at Maryknoll, NY. The event was prepared by the four Maryknoll entities: the Affiliates, the Lay Missioners, the Fathers and Brothers, and the Maryknoll Sisters.

The collaboration which made this symposium possible, could, if expanded, be an impulse for Maryknoll’s sustainability into the future. It was built on an important characteristic of Maryknoll today—the common call of our baptism, a call reflected in a diversity of vocation. It is the call to an authentically lived, committed discipleship in the mission of God.

Partnership, much like friendship, is based on unreserved trust and respect. It is nourished by compatible concerns, codes of conduct, and communication styles. It requires mutual reliance on complementary skills shared generously for the sake of the other and for the common good.  Partnership flourishes when we are attentive to the other and offer mutual support; when we are honest, open, and real with one another; when we are aware of, and appreciative of, the differences among us; and when we can build positive efforts around a shared purpose.

That the practice of partnership among Maryknollers is inconsistent around the world, and, worse still, undernourished in many areas of our life experience, is a sign that partnering poses a challenge. It requires us to examine our mindsets regarding mission, our roles in the church, and our norms of relationships between men and women, lay and cleric, as being equal partners in God’s mission.

The charism and spirit of Maryknoll has always been directed to mission within a global as well as local context.  For over 100 years, our common roots have continued to nourish our conscious efforts to adapt and re-focus our mission efforts to better respond to the signs of the times as we meet the needs of the poor and marginalized.

As we come face to face with our “own profound historical turning point,” we must engage our vulnerabilities no less than our strengths; our shadows as well as our lights.  Doing so is no longer a choice.  We must move with true wholeness into a future that calls us deeper into God’s mission in ways we can only imagine, and along paths we do not yet recognize.

Imagination is a wonderful, freeing gift. It is the stuff of mystics and prophets, contemplatives and missioners.  Trust in the call, and courage to see and act on new vision, are what grow commitment. And, in our lives as missioners, what sustains is the keen awareness of the presence of God in all we encounter. The “epiphany experiences” of the authentic life provide the interconnections of the diverse expressions of vocation within mission. 

The Maryknoll of tomorrow demands that we engage our Maryknoll diversity with respect and compassion. It requires our conscious witness and service to inclusive giving and receiving at the table of life, blessed and broken open for the sake of the whole.  When we do so, the practice of mission will grow in authenticity.

This is the Eucharistic community that Maryknoll can become. Can we see and embrace the something new that God is birthing in our midst?

 

 

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