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Sunday, 24 June 2018 23:24

Southern (Maryknoll) Hospitality

Written by Mary Ryan-Hotchkiss
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Mary Ryan-Hotchkiss – Portland Chapter

New Orleans area Affiliates (Gulf South Chapter) bring to life the Maryknoll charisms of hospitality, spirituality, mission accompaniment, global vision, social justice, as well as compassion, mercy, and acceptance. Ten Affiliates gathered on short notice at Matt and Janet Rousso’s home to visit with the Hotchkisses this April.

Meeting attendees included(L to R): Matt Rousso, Barbara Sallettes, Mary Ryan-Hotchkiss, Janet Rousso, Fr. Doug Brougher, Vivien and Ed Michaels, and Kim Nunez.

Even Affiliates who were not able to join us were emphatic in their support of social justice. Ben Gordon sent an email that he was attending a meeting addressing the incursion of tourist facilities into his working-class neighborhood. Another Affiliate was on her way to participate in the People’s March in Memphis commemorating the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King.

This evening, while we met, Kim Nunez (See her article, next.) received an emergency call about a high school student with a medical issue. The student’s mother had already been deported and the student was freaking out that her father was next and she would be left on her own. The importance of her upcoming school tests vanished in the face of her struggle for survival. Charlie Freel and Matt also have accompanied Guatemalans to immigration hearings.

We discussed Affiliate issues: growth and the future. A personal invitation brought most of these Affiliates to the chapter, but it was the welcome, the community, and the spiritual nurturing that kept them coming. Some saw the future of Maryknoll in the Affiliates and Lay Missioners as the average age of the Maryknoll priests and sisters continues to increase. Matt said the role of Affiliates is to imbue our spheres of influence with a mission attitude that we are disciples, missionaries, reaching out to accompany the poor and each other. Charlie Freel mentioned that their local bishop says his central job is creating a missionary church, as does Pope Francis.

Barbara Sallettes says she sees great examples of compassion in the Maryknoll magazine. She shared that in some social groups she watches her words to avoid criticism but feels free and accepted at the Affiliate meetings.

Southern Louisiana is about one third Catholic but many Catholics are strongly influenced by Louisiana’s red-state attitudes. All present said they were pro-life. And, like Pope Francis, they understand that there are a number of pro-life issues that call them to action. Vivien emphasized being compassionate whether we consider ourselves liberal, progressive, or conservative.

In addition to leading several immersion trips per year for seminarians and other trips for Affiliates, Matt has led discussion groups on books and on current issues and how they relate to our faith. Matt and Janet Rousso also generously provide a gracious, convenient venue for many of this chapter’s Affiliate meetings. Their next Affiliate meeting will include a “Dreamer” seminarian who was recently able to renew his DACA status.

Our evening ended as it began, in prayerful gratitude for the fellowship, our many blessings, and our affiliation to Maryknoll. This Affiliate small mission community is a spiritual home, a safe place to discuss, to pray, and to be informed, and they welcome newcomers or visitors.

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