Tuesday, 27 June 2017 18:03

Marknoll Mission Institute—What a Gem!

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Rich Lessard – Affiliate Board, Albany Chapter

Following this spring’s Affiliate Board meeting, my wife, Denise, and I stayed on at Maryknoll in Ossining, NY, and attended the Maryknoll Mission Institute (MMI). It was an overdue gift to ourselves, and also served as the perfect way to ease into my third week of retirement.

Some Affiliates may be unaware of this opportunity. Let me introduce you to the MMI and encourage you, if you are able, to seriously consider spending one of the best weeks one could experience.

The MMI is a forum for adult learning and reflection on the world church and on mission. This Maryknoll Sisters’ ministry brings together people of all churches and cultures (typically engaged in cross-cultural ministries) to explore in-depth dimensions of current mission studies, sharing and reflecting on their experiences and worshiping with others in a community environment. Programs are led by invited presenters known for their experience, expertise, and gifts in animating discussion of contemporary issues concerning the needs of the global community. These presenters are often authors whose books are published by Orbis Books. Generally, each year ten programs are offered from May through August.

My first MMI in 2004 was a program offered by Miriam Therese MacGillis. Since then, I’ve attended programs with Jack Haught, Diarmuid O’Murchu, Ilia Delio and just recently Michael Morwood—authors I’m sure many Affiliates are familiar with and find inspiring, encouraging, and challenging. MMI is a great opportunity to meet these and other noted authors/presenters and spend some quality time with them. A cool experience!

You never know how attending a MMI program may impact your life. For me, looking back on my 2004 MMI experience, two things happened. First of all, I fell in love with the Maryknoll Sisters. From that first day and since, I just love being in their presence, listening to the stories of their lives and missions, awed by their inspiration, their commitment and the love they share in all they do. And their awesome personalities—uniquely different, but each beautiful and strong! And the second—well, the fact is that I wouldn’t have written this article without that initial experience. It was then when someone (I wish I could remember who) approached my friend, Tom Hayes, and me and gave us each a folder containing information about something called the Maryknoll Affiliates. Two years later, after a visit with Fred Goddard and Ron Guidry, the Albany Affiliate Chapter was up and running. And as they say, the rest is history.

You know what’s nice about being an Affiliate and attending a MMI program, you can check off all boxes on the Four Pillars scorecard.

  • Community – not only are you hosted by and interacting with some of the best people in the world, but you are praying, learning, sharing, crying, laughing, dining, socializing, and singing with people from all corners of the world. Talk about global community! What an excellent way to make lasting friendships. In our last program with Michael Morwood, we had one participant join us from Down Under—Australia!
  • Spirituality – Not only is it embedded in the prayerful aspects of the program, but there is a special sense of being in and with the spiritual presence of Mother Mary Joseph and Fathers Walsh and Price as you walk along the hallowed hallways and grounds of Maryknoll.
  • Global Vision – You can’t help but get a sense of this from the experiences and perspectives that missioners and other participants share about their work around the world. You hear first-hand accounts of their lives and experiences in other cultures—the effects of their missionary work, of globalization, climate change, politics, war, etc.
  • Action – By virtue of just being there, you’ve taken action. Not only do you experience new learning, but by your presence and interactions with others there, you affirm each other’s life’s work and in solidarity walk together in the way of Jesus. Perhaps the experience will motivate or inspire you toward a new initiative of your own or in your Chapter’s life back home.

I ask you to learn more about the Maryknoll Mission Institute and the various programs they offer. If you find yourself in the Hudson Valley of New York State or anywhere else in New York (because if you’ve made it that far, what’s another hour or five-hour drive to Maryknoll?) during the beautiful seasons of Spring and Summer, please consider spending some additional time with the Sisters and other missioners from around the globe at the Maryknoll Mission Institute. You’ll be so happy you did.

One more thing: if you think you’re too old, think again. 97-year-old Maryknoll Sister Helen Werner, currently ministering in Lemoa, Guatemala, and friend of the Albany Affiliates, is scheduled for one or two programs this summer. So…

For details about the Maryknoll Mission Institute, click here!

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