Thank you, brother and sister Maryknoll Affiliates, for your support of the people of Peru who recently suffered from terrible natural disasters.
We are very grateful for your strong gestures of solidarity with our brothers and sisters affected by the natural disasters that our country, Peru, suffered a few months ago. We continue to suffer the consequences of the intense rains—landslides and overflowing rivers. Cities and towns were flooded, thousands of people were left isolated, and agricultural and cattle lands were destroyed. These disasters left more than 100 dead, affected 150,000 people directly, and impacted almost one million nationally, according to the Center for Operations of National Emergency, which monitors natural disasters in Peru.
Most of our readers are familiar with Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker Movement, but perhaps not everyone is familiar with Mark and Louise Zwick in Houston, Texas.
They were volunteer missioners in El Salvador in the late 1970s but were forced to leave following death threats related to the civil war at the time. Upon their return to the US, they saw the need to help the refugees from Central America and commented that, “If we had any guts, we’d start a Catholic Worker House.” They founded a house of hospitality under the name of Casa Juan Diego in 1980, and ever since they have dedicated their lives, on a fulltime volunteer basis, to helping the needy.
How is your chapter, your community, responding to immigrants?
Since many immigrants in the US are threatened with deportation, various organizations are offering sanctuary and solidarity:
What can we do? What will we do?
What would Jesus do?
“We Speak for the Earth.”
Even at 90 degrees in the shade, we were exhilarated by the more than 200,000 upbeat, committed activists who came to Washington, DC, on April 29th to emphasize their concern for the earth. We started the day with a Mass attended by several hundred Catholics brought together by the Catholic Climate Covenant, the Franciscan Action Network, and the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns.
New Orleans Chapter Affiliates participated in the New Orleans Peoples’ Climate March on Saturday, April 29th, joining thousands from around the country. Kevin Cahalan prepared our marching banner, highlighting Pope Francis’ words from Laudato Sí, “The earth, our common home, is beginning to look like an immense pile of filth.” One lady from Fort Worth, Texas, who was attracted to our banner, came up to our group proclaiming her great affection for Pope Francis. In addition to our five Affiliates, there were some 400-500 participants shouting in a loud voice: “This is what democracy looks like!”
We welcome the presenters who, with their diverse backgrounds and varying gifts, will nourish the spirit of Buen Vivir throughout the MAC 2017 Conference (November 9-12 at Casa de Retiros Verbo Encarnado, Guatemala.) They introduce themselves in the order in which they will present at MAC 2017. (Meet the Mayans, liturgists, and musicians in the next issue.)
A contingent of Affiliates from the Northeast Ohio Chapter—Jan and Curt Alberti, Pam Cibik, Gerry Mullaney, and Kathy Ress—had the privilege of visiting Cuba last December. An added and unanticipated element of this visit was the opportunity to experience the mourning period for Fidel Castro in his homeland. Our group came of age in the 1950s and 1960s, a time when Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution were demonized by the US government. The message we heard was the call to condemn and eradicate Castro’s atheistic, communist movement in our backyard.
What we did not hear a half century ago was the voice of a leader and a people who experienced the inequalities and injustices of the US-backed regime of Fulgencio Batista. This voice was determined to make changes.
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.
Since the sharing last year by Maryknoll Mission Educator Matt Rousso on “Laudato Si,” our Affiliate community in Northeast Florida has had the opportunity to reflect on what the encyclical letter of Pope Francis is teaching us and calling us to. In a local social and economic environment that is substantially sustained by the use of fossil fuels and where many people are biblical literalists, the development of ecological awareness is both delicate and challenging.
Maryknoll is a movement that began over 100 years ago in the US and has since developed its missionary work throughout the world. This movement is made up of four expressions: Maryknoll Society of Priests and Brothers, Maryknoll Sisters, Maryknoll Lay Missioners and Maryknoll Affiliates. Even though the four expressions evolved at different moments in history and with specific mission focuses, we ask the question, what unites us?
I have been working on answering that question my whole life. Perhaps that is what enticed me to become involved with the Maryknoll Affiliate pilot of the same name: Quo Vadis, Where Are You Going? Maryknoll Affiliate Executive Coordinator Bob Short, board member Bill Murphy, and Greater Boston Affiliate Kathy Morrison met to write the draft of this pilot program after learning that, according to some sources, over 2,000,000 people go on immersion trips each year. How are these cross-cultural experiences affecting their lives? What impact, if any, will their experiences have on decisions they make later in life? What kinds of jobs they will take; how will they view and treat those who look and act differently based on culture, race, and/or socio-economical differences? Where is God in all of this? These questions became the basis of the pilot program.
Local churches and community advocates took to the streets for a Palm Sunday Peace Parade of about 225 community members, including five Maryknoll Affiliates and eight Maryknoll Sisters. The Los Angeles Maryknoll Affiliates and several other organizations sponsored the Pasadena Palm Sunday Peace Parade. The parade marchers first gathered at the Reformation Lutheran Church where they listened to brief inspirational words from community members before parading to Paseo Colorado. They went out with “palm branches in one hand and peace signs in the other” in a Palm Sunday-style celebration of peace.
The word “water” is cited forty-seven times in Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si’. This demonstrates the great value and concern Pope Francis places on water as a sacred and essential part of life.
Though water is essential to life, we take it for granted when we reach for a glass of water. Most humans will perish after three days without drinking water. It is so central to maintaining life on our planet that, at times throughout history, water has been used as a tool in military confrontations and has been the source of regional and local conflicts and transboundary disputes.
Pope Francis identifies key problems related to water:
Since we are looking forward to the 2017MAC in Guatemala, which is offering a post conference trip to El Salvador, anything Salvadoran catches our eye. The Catholic News Service and other publications recently announced that a law passed in 2017 phases out all mining for metals in that Central American country. Last year the Salvadoran government won a $300 million lawsuit brought against it by a unit of a Canadian-Australian mining giant, Oceana Gold. The government had denied mining permits to a new project; the company then sued for lost profits. Activists reported that recent deaths were related to disputes over mining and that mining operations have caused water and soil contamination. Demonstrations, a petition signed by 30,000 people, and advocacy by the Salvadoran Catholic Church pushed their congress to institute the ban.
Similarly, a New York Times article, “El Salvador, Prizing Water Over Gold, Bans All Metal Mining,” reported, “Declaring that El Salvador’s fragile environment could not sustain metal mining operations, legislators across the political spectrum approved the ban, which had broad support, particularly from the influential Roman Catholic Church.” (March 29, 2017 - https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/29/world/americas/el-salvador-prizing-water-over-gold-bans-all-metal-mining.html?_r=0)