Sunday, 28 February 2016 06:33

New England Retreat

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James Comes – New England Chapter

Among retreat attendees were (l to r) James Comes, Tom Kelly, Monique Cerundolo, Mark Huntington, and Myra Plant.

The Maryknoll Affiliates New England Chapter met for our annual retreat at Watch Hill, RI, Nov. 13-15. Rather than follow a formal framework, attendees shared life events and spiritual insights related to the theme of the three A’s of Maryknoll Spirituality.

“Retreat master” Myra Plant instructed us to define the relevance of the three A’s which characterize Maryknoll Spirituality:  affability, availability, and adaptability. Three groups took an hour to define these terms and compare the definitions with our daily lives and sense of mission. These are some of the thoughts and phrases that emerged:


Affability: be the change you want to see; see the person’s dignity; be accepting; don’t objectify the other; be genuine, grounded, nonjudgmental. 

Availability: welcoming; hospitality; listening; being present to the other; obstacles and influences—cell phones, US culture, fear, family history.

Adaptability: enculturation; bringing our values and sharing their values; attending to, welcoming, and incorporating diversity; humility; curiosity; what you do with your experiences; continuing to learn and grow; bringing change means accepting change!

Saturday afternoon was for meditation and reading; Sunday began with reflection and prayers for people who were being challenged with personal issues. 

Then we considered Pope Francis’s list of illnesses and temptations that weaken our service to God, including: 

  • considering oneself “indispensable”
  • “Martha-ism” or excessive industriousness
  • mental and spiritual hardening: not being able to weep with those who weep and to rejoice with those who rejoice
  • excessive planning and functionalism
  • not working with a spirit of communion 
  • existential schizophrenia: teaching severity to others and living a hidden dissolute life
  • rivalry and vainglory living
  • deifying leaders; chatter, grumbling, and gossip 
  • indifference towards others; the “funereal face” 
  • accumulation, i.e., material goods
  • worldly profit and exhibitionism

These ailments generated a wide discussion and a sharing of personal experiences that reinforced the need to keep the three A’s of Maryknoll Spirituality front and center in our daily lives.  

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