Wednesday, 01 March 2017 02:39

Mission Journeys

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Mef Ford – Greater Boston Chapter

Back row (l-r): Biff Jenney, Bill Murphy, Monique Cerundolo, Joan Crowley, Trudy Wheeler, Bill Gilligan, Jane DuBois; front row: Mef Ford, Bill Wheeler (behind camera: Bob Jenney)

Ten attendees at our annual summer picnic began with a casual conversation over appetizers that turned into deep reflections on what it means to live out a call at this stage of life. In The Great Work of Your Life: a Guide for the Journey of Your True Calling, Stephen Cope examines the life visions and struggles faced by such visionaries as Jane Goodall, Harriet Tubman, Mohandas Gandhi, and several ordinary folks and encourages us to reject the modern idea that ‘we can be anyone we want to be’ and instead to discover and fully pursue their inner self’s calling.

Many of our group came of age in the era of cinderblock bookcases, potted avocado plants, and Mateus wine bottle candleholders. We recall JFK’s heady idealism that matched our own intentions to not ask what our institutions could do for us. Indeed, some among our group (notably Joan Crowley, Myra Greene, Bill Murphy, and Edie Shea) are still rattling the cage of the institutional church, keeping our bishops honest and accountable and attuned, like it or not, to the priority of human needs and rights.  

Having left Maryknoll somewhat impulsively, Biff Jenney lived out a happy call to ministry through family and a law career, yet still hears the tiny voice of priest calling to him from within. (His son, Bob, who also attended the meeting, spends half his time in Colombia, linking US buyers with real estate there.) In contrast, Bill Murphy decided to leave Africa and the priesthood only after a period of profound discernment culminating in the liberating insight that his relationship with God always had been and would remain indestructible. Jane DuBois explored a vocation to Maryknoll when younger but made her way in a lay life of service;  at 68, she finds hospice chaplaincy deeply meaningful work and is living out “the happiest period of her life.”

Bill Gilligan, living with a debilitating illness, has found peace in exploring his options at this juncture, has a wonderful therapeutic guide, and enjoys a sense of adventure rather than fear as he progresses through an unknown future. Mef Ford is journaling and  simplifying her possessions and activities to, in the manner of Rodin’s sculpting, release the core of her purpose on this plane into greater awareness and day-to-day influence. It is a work in progress. 

Monique Cerondolo’s journey has led her from a love of nature and studies in biology and environmental sciences, through a detour into accounting, to a call that took about ten years to become increasingly clear. Now, she has found the most rewarding and meaningful work of her life by companioning those in crisis as a hospital chaplain.

Trudy and Bill Wheeler, though invested in their beloved children and grandchildren, feel there must be something more than that to fulfill their calling. One manifestation is the fulfillment that they, like other Maryknoll-loving volunteers, find in offering weeklong cooking service at the Sisters’ vacation home in Watch Hill, RI, where 70-, 80-, and 90-year-old sisters, spilling over with lives of ministry, offer inspiration.

These are just a few of the stories shared during this hour and a half preceding our barbecue supper. 

Our group, which began in 1992 as one of the original Affiliate chapters, meets bimonthly, and holds an annual retreat at Watch Hill, RI, the Maryknoll Sisters’ vacation house. It includes social workers, educators, one hospital and one hospice chaplain, a lawyer, psychologist, court interpreter, immigrant legal assistant, librarian, and the current executive coordinator of the Affiliates—all in various stages of employment and retirement. Several new members have joined in the past year, making our number of regular attendees the highest ever, around 20. At our next meeting, each of us who wishes will share some piece of personal writing relevant to our purpose as spiritual sojourners. 

In addition to those mentioned above, other currently active members are: Mark and Kathy Morrison, Myra Greene, Mark Huntington, Edie Shea, Bob Short, Thomas Kelly, and Jim Comes.

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