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Monday, 29 June 2015 00:00

The Three A’s of Maryknoll Spirituality

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John Moritz – Southeast Regional Coordinator Northeast Florida Chapter

In his address to the Maryknoll Society Centennial Symposium in 2011*, Fr. Steven Judd, MM, reminded us of three traditional marks or traits that characterize Maryknoll Spirituality. They are affability, availability, and adaptability. When I read his comments on them recently, I said to myself, “Well, they’re pretty accurate.” If I were to describe Maryknollers, I might not use the same words, but the ideas are readily apparent to anyone who has been around the Maryknoll family. I began to realize that these three qualities are reflective of the Maryknoll people we encounter and love, and are also aspirational. They present for us real goals, lofty and achievable, that help define who we are. 

Fr. Steve challenged us to reflect on how these three traits are lived out in our mission lives today. So, for us Affiliates, I would like to present his challenge: How do we, both as individual Affiliates and as chapters, live out affability, availability, and adaptability?

First, Fr. Steve used that iconic image of Mother Mary Joseph, with her yards of flowing fabric and welcoming smile, as the paradigm of Maryknoll affability. A congenial freshness of heart that reveals a depth of love is a magnetic attraction for me that I want to emulate. We can all conjure images of those who have presented that welcome to us. So, for reflection: What are some ways in which I can develop that cheerful warmth?

Second, to me, availability is that presence which I recognize when someone values me as person. It is more than just the giving of time, but the self-giving that says, “The person in front of me is the most important person in the world at this moment.” It is the willingness to say, “I’ll go,” to put the other ahead of myself. I am filled with gratitude for those who have made themselves available to me. In what ways can I demonstrate the gift of self to those around me?

Third, adaptability gives me the freedom to transcend the boundaries of convention in order to be present to another. The horizon is merely my limited vision. I love the title of our Affiliate publication, Not So Far Afield, because it so accurately describes the reality that once I am there, what was once the horizon (the field afar) is no longer so far afield. Maryknoll has shown and will continue to show the way of inculturation. What are the ways in which I can be stretched in order to be an image of the Christ that is recognizable to another? 

The more that I have reflected on these three A’s, the more I come to realize the spiritual richness which they contain. If these are the qualities that identify individual Maryknollers, then they are also the characteristics of the communities in which we live. For us as Affiliates, how do our Affiliate chapters reflect these, and how can we make them specific goals to move toward? May they offer you some food for thought. 

*The entire text of Fr. Steve’s address can be found in the Orbis book, The Gift of Mission, edited by James H. Kroeger, MM.



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