The Nobel committee awarded the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize to ICAN—International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons “for its work to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and for its ground-breaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of such weapons.”
Maryknoll and Pax Christi International were integral members of the ICAN campaign to achieve the Nuclear Ban Treaty, and their efforts continue toward ratification in each signing nation and entry into force.
It had been very discouraging that our efforts brought so little awareness, especially here in the US. Then we awoke on October 7th to the Nobel Peace Prize. As part of the campaign, my email has been happily flooded with congratulations and encouragement from our campaigners all over the world.
The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was opened for signatures on September 20th. There need to be 50 ratifications for it to enter into force. Three states have ratified to date—the Vatican was first. In spite of pressure from the US, we expect the treaty to be in effect within two years and to serve as a moral benchmark. (Editor: The US has not signed or ratified.)
Although the nuclear states try to discount this accomplishment, I see it as a part of a new expression of empowerment by the nonnuclear and less powerful states and by a new generation of activists working from the ground up and giving priority to reducing the humanitarian effects of war and violence. The Land Mine Treaty and the Treaty on Cluster Munitions were the first steps in this movement.
Note: To learn more about the negotiations at the United Nations to adopt a treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons leading toward their total elimination, read Sister Elizabeth Zwareva, MM’s report in the July-August 2017 issue of NewsNotes at http://maryknollogc.org/article/un-nuclear-ban-treaty-negotiations.
In early November, around 100 Affiliates and friends will be attending MAC 2017, our international Maryknoll Affiliate Conference, in Guatemala. The MAC Coordinating Committee tells us,
The assembly cup is full. We welcome Maryknoll Affiliates who will live the harmony
between people and Mother Earth inspired by the theme of Buen Vivir.
The Coordinating Committee asked for responses to these questions:
One person shared the thought, “Living in harmony with all challenges us to remember that the Blessing that awaits us is often outside our comfort zone!”
Read more of the thoughtful and inspiring responses they received (in English and Spanish), in the No Tan Lejos del Horizon Special MAC Edition and plan to hear a full report on our first truly international MAC in the next issue of NSFA.
Are you concerned about climate change but don’t know where to start? Here’s a path forward. For cleaner air, more jobs, and involvement for all, think 1-2-3 and prioritize!
By taking even some of the steps below, we can make progress toward our top priorities!
Kevin collaborated regularly with the Seattle Affiliates from 2011-2015 and currently with the Affiliates in Chicago, where he now works. This a reprint of Kevin Foy’s blog:, “5 Things Christian Mission Teaches Me About Confronting Racism,“ posted on August 18, 2017.
Reflecting on testimony from residents of Charlottesville following the recent racist demonstrations, I am struck by a major disconnect. While many white residents are quick to say, “This is not us,” their black neighbors point out that racism is indeed very much a part of Charlottesville: African-Americans are the targets of 80 percent of traffic stops, despite making up only 20 percent of the local population. The same white residents who showed up to protest racism also regularly reject their appeals for reforms in education, employment, and housing policies that disproportionately harm people of color.
A cluster of San Diego Affiliates joined several hundred people at the USD Peace and Justice Auditorium October 6 & 7 to reflect on this topic.
Maria Stephan of the Institute for Peace gave a splendid opening talk on “The Nonviolent Option: The Power of Active Nonviolence.” She reminded us of the many under-reported examples of effective social change through nonviolent movements around the world in recent years. Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana gave the closing talk, “Christian Nonviolence and Just Peace.” He heads the Vatican’s Human Development office, which includes the Justice and Peace outreach initiative encouraged by Pope Francis. This event follows up on a Vatican session held a year ago, also organized by Maryknoll and Pax Christi co-president Marie Dennis. Sandwiched between the two public talks was an all-day seminar for some 15 Catholic theologians and peace activists with an equal number of military officers, most of them faculty members (or retired from) teaching ethics at Army, Navy, and Air Force academies. Fr. Bill Headley and I participated in the whole event.
Members of the North Bay Affiliate Chapter, Nancy and Bob McFarland, Leslee Coady, Rich Younkin, and Marie Wren planned this event at St. Isabella’s parish in San Rafael, CA, to impart information and to inspire involvement and action. Presenters included a Rwandan refugee priest, Carolyn Trumble—a Maryknoll mission promoter, staff members of Catholic Charities, an immigration lawyer, and Maryknoll Affiliates.
The Maryknoll Affiliate Book Group has been discussing the experiences of immigrants in the US, guided by Miguel De La Torre’s Trails of Hope and Terror. That book emphasizes that Jesus was an undocumented refugee in Egypt and offers Christian responses to the alien.
Now we see people of color detained and arrested as they leave the county court house or go to work. Citizen protesters have been arrested as they block the path of Immigration Control and Enforcement (ICE) vans. Immigrant attendance at church services and classes is down, perhaps due to fear of being in public. Executive orders have rescinded the DACA program that helps young immigrants, Dreamers, legally remain in the US to study or work.
Ken Butigan, connected with Pace e Bene (http://www.paceebene.org/), gave a lively and inspiring talk on Campaign Nonviolence. He said violence causes racism, poverty and war. We need to say no to violence and respect our adversary as a loving person in God’s eyes. He uses the acronym CLARA when dealing with conflict:
We then watched a TED talk on nonviolence (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJSehRlU34w), by Erica Cenoweth, in which she said nonviolence has been shown to be more effective in campaigns for change in governments than violence. Civil resistance works.
Ken advocated the following key practices: training in nonviolence, working with a community of likeminded people for mutual support, and action (keeping nonviolence in mind during any interactions).
We concluded the morning with one-on-one role-play taking pro and con positions on controversial issues—gun control, environmental issues, etc. Each person had the opportunity to try both sides. A common feedback was that the confrontations were stressful but the CLARA method of conflict resolution was helpful. Denny Duffel of the Seattle Chapter of Pax Christi USA (and organizer of this Workshop) encouraged us to prayerfully consider signing the Vow of Nonviolence, part of our packet of handouts. (https://paxchristiusa.org/resources/vow-of-nonviolence/)
After lunch, as part of Campaign Nonviolence, many participants marched from the St. Joseph Parish social hall to St. James Cathedral (about 2 miles,) advocating for nonviolence and a ban on nuclear weapons.
I didn’t march, but I did sign the Vow of Nonviolence and am sending it to:
Pax Christi, Seattle Chapter
958 16th Ave. East
Seattle, WA 98112
Rosa Beatriz, the lead person on the Guatemalan Conference Committee planning for MAC 2017, asked a few registrants to respond to two of three questions. Some respondents shared their answers with Executive Coordinator Bob Short. Below are parts of three Affiliates’ responses to one of her questions:
In what ways would I like to see the theme “Buen Vivir” (Living in Harmony with All) become part of the commitment of the Affiliate Movement?
The Maryknoll Office of Global Concerns urges us to pray and contact our government representatives asking for diplomacy with North Korea (http://maryknollogc.org/alerts/us-and-north-korea-call-prayer-and-action).
An additional approach was introduced by Senator Edward Markey (D-Mass) and Representative Ted Lieu (D-CA) “Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017.” H.R.669 would prohibit the first-use of nuclear strike by the United States unless Congress first declares war and expressly authorizes such a strike (https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/669). The bill has 47 co-sponsors but has been referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
When we met with Manny and Mary Ryan-Hotchkiss on our annual visit, Mary asked us to reflect on what we see in Portland and in Oaxaca.
Mary—First, we noted how the mood of the people in general expresses itself. Aside from activists, nobody said much about the political state of affairs in Portland or the US. Black members in our family are as vigilant as they have always been. The police bias toward racism has always been prominent. Having arrived in 1975, we remember when the police left dead possums on the doorstep of a Black restaurant. And the father of one our children’s classmates was killed with a choke hold—he stopped a robbery in a gas station, and the police automatically assumed that because he was a tall Black man, he was the robber. Now however, many people feel permission to spew hatred toward immigrants, people of color, indigenous people, and refugees. The incredibly noticeable gentrification of the neighborhoods made me sad and angry. Maryknoll Affiliate Martha Gies, who has worked in housing in Portland for years, commented that “ethnic cleansing” is taking place—the Black community is moving out to the “numbers,” far out to the east of Portland.
The special talents of these Guatemalans will enrich your conference experience with an understanding of the Mayan culture, uplifting liturgies, and enjoyment of the music created for this gathering.
Daniel Caño is Mayan Q’anjob’al, from the aldea Paykonob’, municipality of Santa Eulalia, Huehuetenango. A Mayan spiritual guide, he was named for Maryknoll Father Daniel Jensen, who was pastor in Santa Eulalia at that time.
His academic studies are in philosophy, pedagogy, and intercultural bilingual education. Daniel is presently a professor of political and social sciences at the Rafael Landivar University in Quetzaltenango and on the faculty of Humanities at the Guatemalan University del Valle in the Altiplano. He has shared his spirituality, life experiences and poetry at a number of universities and organizations in the United States.
Of the Mayan Spirituality, Daniel says “I consider Mayan Spirituality as a way of interrelating myself with my social and cosmic surroundings. I try not to reduce it to rituals but instead to apply it to all spheres of my life.”
Lorenza is an indigenous Maya Quiche woman and a psychologist and elementary school teacher. Her parents immigrated to the capital city of Guatemala because of the political violence and the poverty in the country. In spite of having grown up in an urban environment, her strong Mayan identity is based on the values of equality, social justice, and respect for diversity.
In 2000, Lorenza began reflecting on the Cosmo vision of the Mayan People, in particular the K’iche. She has studied certain elements, principles, and values of the spirituality of her people. She appreciates her origins and has a critical vision of their history as Mayan Peoples.
During this process, she has worked with organizations of indigenous peoples, women’s groups, and international and governmental organizations. Presently, she consults regarding indigenous peoples, women, and HIV, and develops workshops for healing and counseling with indigenous women.
John Spain, MM – Maryknoll Priest
Ordained in 1970, John shared pastoral service with Salvadoran priests and participated in Christian communities. Over forty years ago, he lived through the persecution that claimed the lives of more than ten priests, including our beloved Blessed Oscar Romero and the four American churchwomen in December 1980.
In the 1980s, John served in Nicaragua while it was experiencing US aggression after freeing itself from Somoza. In the 1990s, he returned to San Salvador to accompany the suffering people in their search for reconciliation after the war. In recent years he has spent more time on administrative tasks in Central America, but also sharing with the Affiliates of Guatemala and El Salvador to help pastorally in the parish of Cristo Salvador in Zacamil, El Salvador.
This year he was invited to share the lives of the martyrs of Central America with the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers in Africa.
Helen has been a Maryknoll sister for 79 years, and looks back with gratitude at the journey that brought her to this time in Guatemala. After wonderful years of formation and College education, she spent 10 years in Panama teaching children whose ancestors had worked on the Panama Canal. A call to the contemplative life brought her back to New York, where for 32 years she lived the cloistered life, reaching out to the world through prayer.
Most significant in her life was the invitation to come to Guatemala to be a presence of prayer and accompaniment in the midst of the poor who were still suffering from the effects of violence and massacres. Her life has become prayer in the midst of the world, one with the people.
Both a professional singer and a humanities professor, Miguel specializes in music in middle education and musical theater. A choral director, artistic producer, and dramatist, he is the founding director of Staccato Singers Academy, a school held in high esteem in Guatemala. He has given workshops internationally and is vice president of the Latin American Forum of Music Educators.
Immersed in the world of song since an early age, he has won multiple awards, including gold medal winner in the World Olympics of the Arts (2001) in Los Angeles, California, and the Arcoiris Award for the best youth group (2005).
He has created:
Miguel presently directs the City Choral group of Guatemala City, teaches vocal technique at Staccato Singers Academy, and is General Director of Casa Duarte, a meeting place for companies that work in all branches of the arts.
Juan Pablo teaches musical formation, specializing in practice and choral direction. He studied at University of San Carlos and Normal School for teachers of Music Jesus Maria Alvarado.
As a member of the National Choir of Guatemala (Cultural Patrimony of the Nation), he has been a choir member, tenor soloist, accompanying pianist, and director (from 1992 to the present). Juan has sung with several other choirs, including Colegio San Sebastian (1977-1979), Victoria Choir (1986 – 1990), APG Choir (1988), Symphonic Christmas Choir (1992), and Hilos de Plata Choir (2006).
He has been a member of popular music groups: Christmas Selection, Siglo XX (1992), High Voltage Group (1990 – 1992), The Organization (1993), The Brothers Duarte Groups (1994 – 1997), Select Music Group (1990-2000), among others, with which he has participated in national tours and international festivals (Central America, Cuba, Colombia and Mexico).
Juan Pablo composers and arranges choral works, songs with a message of hope, children’s songs, group arrangements, and chamber music. He interprets varied academic and popular music, singing and accompanying himself on piano or keyboard.
He presently teaches music and directs the youth choir and marimba at Colegio Monte Maria in Guatemala City.
Join the Maryknoll Affiliate Board in envisioning our future.
1. Read through the meeting plan. If you wish to work from the two-page pdf of this Easy Meeting, go to Easy Meeting 2017 09 10 - Visioning the Affiliates.
2. Plan who will read the passages and prayers.
3. Determine who will lead the discussions.
4. Gather markers, a flip chart or large sheets of paper
and tape, and pens and paper for individual use.
Creating scapegoats is something societies do over and over again to keep from addressing real fears and injustices. It never really solves any problem, but just continues the cycle of violence, covering it up with a thin disguise, a lie of legitimacy.
Jesus calls us to expose the lie by witnessing to the truth. What truth, you might ask. Pilate asked the same question, even though Jesus has just given him the answer: