Monday, 02 May 2016 17:09

State of the Heart, April 2016

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Dave Schaffner – Affiliate Board Chair

 As the Affiliate Board and Regional Coordinators (RCs) met at Maryknoll for their combined Spring meeting, the atmosphere in the meetings matched that outside, with renewal and promise, where the daffodils and tulips were leading the budding of shrubs and trees. Of many decisions taken by the Board/RCs that are promising and exciting, I will highlight two.

Casa de Retiros Verbo Encarnado, Guatemala, site of MAC 2017

MAC 2017. The Guatemala Chapter has agreed to host the Maryknoll Affiliate Conference (MAC 2017), to be held November 9-12, 2017. The venue is Casa de Retiros Verbo Encarnado, a beautiful retreat center up the mountain from Guatemala City, on the way to Antigua. Take a look at the retreat center website: http://www.verboencarnado.com.gt/#!home/cm44.

The conference organizers are in the process of developing the program and confirming speakers. We had a sneak preview at the meeting, and it promises to be a dynamite conference and a great way to celebrate 25 years of Affiliate life. 

Virtual Chapters. The Board and RCs, grappling with the issues surrounding Affiliate growth and sustainability, enthusiastically supported an initiative to pilot virtual communities/chapters. While over the years our model of “brick and mortar” chapters has served us well, we know that the Affiliates, technology, and society are changing. 

For myriad reasons, many current Affiliates are without a chapter. An Affiliate who moves to a new area or a potential new Affiliate may be many miles from the nearest chapter. And there is anecdotal evidence that a number of people who attend Maryknoll retreats, institutes, and immersion experiences do not have the opportunity to attend meetings but are interested in Maryknoll. Virtual communities also provide a mechanism for special interest or affinity groups, such as contemplative communities or book study groups. 

These virtual communities are pilot programs and the board wants feedback from the groups. What successes and difficulties did the virtual groups experience? What technology worked for their virtual community, whether it be Skype, Facebook, Drop Box, Google Groups, conference calls, or other communication innovations? 

Goodbyes and New Faces. A difficult part for all organizations is saying goodbye to members who have generously given of their talents, time, and treasure in serving as Board members or RCs. At this meeting, we said thank you and goodbye to Joe and Patty Symkowick, Board members from Sacramento, and to Beth Begley, who most recently served as Northeast RC and before served on the Board.

At the same time, we welcomed new Board members: Gerry Mullaney, from the Northeast Ohio Chapter (one of our newest chapters), and Ginny McEvoy, who served on the earliest Affiliate organizing group some 25 years ago. 

You Are Needed. As an organization that depends on servant-leaders to accomplish our mission, we need you. Over the past two months, we put out a notice for a new Board member to replace me as Board finance committee chair. There was no response, which is troubling—I assure you, the finance background needed is not rocket science.

Please consider whether you can contribute in this or another Board position. We also have open Regional Coordinator positions; California, in particular, has been available for the past year or more, and the Mountain/Southwest region has no RC. 

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