One of the most exciting things about attending the Maryknoll Affiliate Conferences (MACs) is the opportunity to talk with people about what is happening in the countries where they live. While you’re at the MAC, don’t miss visiting with these people:
Kitty Madden – Having spent the last 34 years in Nicaragua, Kitty can fill you in on current conditions there.
Renate Schneider – To learn what Haiti is like these days, Renate can report on changes since her article in the January NSFA.
Peruvian Affiliates – Several have applied for visas. (Pray for their success.)
Rosa Beatriz, Rosa Maria de Leon, and Anabella Penados – They can talk about various aspects of mission in Guatemala.
Sun Shil Theresa Kim – She can speak to what it means to be an Affiliate in South Korea.
Fred and Jet Goddard –What has our previous executive coordinator been doing in Philippines?
There will probably be even more worldwide representatives, not to mention folks from other regions of the US.
Be sure to enhance your global vision by attending MAC 2020 and joining in the conversation. Better yet, enrich that conversation by encouraging other Affiliates you know to attend as well.
Quo Vadis, Latin for Where are you going?, is an Affiliate program designed to help returnees from an immersion trip (most often college students) to process and incorporate the experience into their lives going forward.
Santa Orlando and a team from the Albany Chapter met in February with 30 students from LeMoyne College in Syracuse, NY, to help them process their immersion trips to Jamaica, El Salvador, and the Dominican Republic, This Day of Discernment helped the students recall the surprises, events, and gifts that will forever remain etched upon their hearts. Affiliates believe post-reflection is an important aspect of cultural immersion trips. Many programs prepare groups prior to their trips, but don’t plan time to process the experience after returning. Quo Vadis provides this service to groups returning from immersion trips to encourage them to share their experience with others who have taken trips such as these and have been changed by the experience.
An Albany Affiliate team of six facilitated this day, encouraging the students to remember events that touched them, to share these experiences with those present, and to let the experiences speak to them in the silence of their hearts. The students were thoroughly engaged throughout the day, sharing with each other in pairs, small groups and large group discussions. We felt privileged to hear their stories, many of which brought back similar memories of immersion trips that we ourselves have taken.
Students shared moments of joy: being welcomed like family by residents of their host country, or dancing and celebrating with children and entire communities. They embraced being out of their comfort zone by tossing aside fear of the other and instead celebrating the commonalities. Many students wished our country would value relationships more than schedules. They were surprised at seeing armed guards everywhere, and the fact that it made the locals feel safer, whereas the presence of increased armed personnel in our country causes fear and anxiety. The students commented on how the political decisions in one country have a great effect on the lives of the people in other countries; no country exists in isolation.
Some students expressed sadness to realize that they were feeling isolated and alone upon returning home. At most they receive a nod of the head in passing, instead of a connecting touch, a warm and authentic greeting. They have seen for themselves that material things do not necessarily bring joy.
Most students plan to have more cross-cultural interactions in the future. The worldwide concerns that they have studied have now become very real and personal. The students are a positive reflection of Le Moyne’s academic education, as well as proof of the spiritual and organizational prowess of their campus ministry director, Ms. Alice Zicardi.
The Quo Vadis* program, developed by Bill Murphy and other Affiliates, is adaptable and flexible so it can speak to groups of various ages. We encourage other Affiliate chapters to reach out to groups who take immersion trips to promote the program. The Albany Affiliate team was deeply touched by being present to the students and sharing their experiences. We also spoke of the Affiliate Pillars: Spirituality, Community, Action, and Global Vision. Know that the Maryknoll Affiliate charism is alive and well.
For many years Maryknoll has had a missionary cooperative agreement with the Seattle Archdiocese. Maryknoll priests come to educate regarding mission work by sharing their personal experiences during Mass. In a three-year cycle, most parishes set aside one weekend during the summer for this missionary visit to learn about the overseas work of the Church.
The Seattle Archdiocese provides the list of parishes desiring a Maryknoll priest’s visit, as well as the dates and parishes to which they have been matched. Most priests stay overnight at Maryknoll House and have use of the house car. Usually the priest will take the supplies (Maryknoll Magazine, donation envelopes, pencils, brochures, etc.) with him. Sometimes Maryknoll House ships the supplies to the parish in advance. The number of Masses served on the weekends—from three to six or seven—can sometimes be overwhelming for a single priest.
Three years ago, the Seattle Affiliates decided to partner with the visiting priests by helping to alleviate some of their work load at the parish level. We only assist at the parishes within the greater Seattle area and the Portland Affiliates assist at parishes in the Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, Washington, area.
ESTHER is a faith-based organization working for social justice. Four members of its Immigration Task Force are Fox Valley Maryknoll Affiliate Chapter members. Kathleen Gribble, chapter coordinator, has offered her home for asylum seekers waiting for their court date.
The ESTHER Immigration Task Force has evolved over the years into a wide-reaching group with ties to many groups in the community and beyond. Currently, we are working on auto insurance for undocumented immigrants, we are educating the community through entertainment, we gather and share information about conditions on the border, and we advocate for local immigrants in abusive situations.
Safe Roads is an initiative aimed at culminating in a bill that will allow our undocumented immigrants to be tested to drive legally and carry insurance. A few members of our task force are working on the bill with other groups around the state. It would be a win/win for the state but is still meeting with opposition.
As I continue my time-of-life review and recycling, I am grateful for the opportunities I have had these past 34 years to document my experiences with the Sandinista revolution of the 80s and also our accompaniment of Nicaraguan women and families through 27 years of Casa Materna Mary Ann Jackman in the northern highlands of Matagalpa.
The ending of the Casa in December of 2017 seemed to be an early example of the government’s desire to do away with or strongly control all nongovernmental organizations. We are just grateful that we were able to attend close to 18,000 women with high risk pregnancies and contribute greatly to the reduction of maternal deaths in Nicaragua. Of the Casa mothers, there were only two maternal deaths, neither of which happened in the Casa.
I apologize that I am not able to send an update on Nicaragua for the Affiliate NSFA newsletter at this time, but I am looking forward to sharing my perspective with any interested Affiliates when we gather for MAC 2020 in New York in June. I send gratitude to all of you for continuing to hold the people of Nicaragua in your prayers.
On Saturday, January 11, Affiliates from the San Francisco-North Bay Chapter and their friends (19 in all) gathered at Bob and Nancy McFarland’s home to hear an inspirational talk and video by Professor Michael Nagler, followed by questions and answers. Professor Nagler, cofounder of the Peace and Conflict Studies Program at UC Berkeley, received an international award for promoting Gandhian Values Outside India. He has authored several books, including The Search for a Nonviolent Future, and speaks on peace and nonviolence in many venues. Founder and president of the board of the Metta Center for Non-Violence Education in Petaluma, he is a student of Sri Eknath Easwaran and also founded the Blue Mountain Center of Meditation, where he lives.
We sat spellbound as Nagler talked about his new book, The Third Harmony: Nonviolence and the New Story of Human Nature, which comes out in March, to be followed by a film of the same name (see Thirdharmony.org), with coverage on social media and PBS. The first harmony is with the universe, the second with nature and the third is the harmony within us and among us as human beings.
He talked about “the old story” of human beings, which is materialistic, promotes separateness, isolation, and competition; exploits the environment, leading to climate crisis; gives rise to dictators; dominates, destroys, and leads to reaction. It’s about war and violence, poverty and scarcity. Today’s mass media news mostly deals with the old story.
The “new story” is about consciousness, humans as spiritual beings, helping others, cooperation and collaboration, interconnectedness, and the convergence of modern science and spirituality. The new story is about nonviolence as a way of life—it is the only method that can get us to a new paradigm. Violence cannot change hearts, but in the presence of nonviolence, hostility falls away.
As a group, we were very moved by his stories of how nonviolent approaches stopped violent attacks and turned people around. Two films were mentioned as related and worth seeing: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood and A Hidden Life (about Franz Jägerstätter’s resistance to serving under Hitler—it is inspiring and beautiful).
Steve has been in Guatemala for most of the last 40 years, working in education. Since 1989, he has collaborated with CEIPA as their educational consultant.
Frequently, in the context of the current worldwide immigration nightmare, the right of people to stay in their own countries and the obligation of the governments of those countries to fulfill their most basic human rights do not receive as much attention as they should.
The Ecumenical Center for Pastoral Integration (CEIPA) in Quetzaltenango, in the southwestern region of Guatemala, has been working to defend the rights of working children and adolescents since 1989. Children and adolescents, most of them of Maya-K’iche’ or Maya-Mam ethnicity, become well versed in their rights through a critical pedagogy on which the three programs that comprise CEIPA are based: education, socio-productive training (vocational workshops), and political advocacy. Children and adolescents are learning to become active citizens who work for change in their country. The three programs offer a wide range of opportunities for children and youth.
Working children and youth who have aged out of the public-school system attend CEIPA’s three elementary schools, one of them located in the largest market of Quetzaltenango. Many students work there or in the adjoining bus terminal. Classes for 7th through 9th grades, referred to as “básico” in Guatemala, are available on the grounds of the organization. Students in the elementary program range from 9 to 17 years; those in the básico program are from 13 to the early 20s. Students in the weekday program attend classes from 1:30-5:30, which does not interfere with their work schedules. CEIPA also offers a weekend program for youth at both the elementary and básico levels. Students in this program do not have the luxury of attending school during the week because of their work obligations but are able to attend classes all day on Saturdays.
The vocational education program offers a variety of workshops that students attend for an entire year. Many of the participants in this program come from the surrounding municipalities and rural communities and did not attend one of the CEIPA schools. The workshop offerings have varied over the years, according to the shifting needs of the local economy. At the closing of the 2019 school year (classes in Guatemala begin in January and end in October, but in CEIPA they end in November), some 120 youth concluded workshops in cooking, baking, confectionery, sewing and dressmaking, and cosmetology. Those who have successfully finished the program now have two options for the coming year: they may receive support in finding work in their fields in established businesses, or they may receive supervision over a period of several months while starting and maintaining their own small businesses.
CEIPA staff members who work in the political advocacy program divide their time among three subprograms:
Standing up for children and youth is particularly important in Guatemala, where 51% of the population is under age 18 and 70% is under age 30. Add to this that the average grade level completed is fifth grade elementary and that half of the population under age 5 is malnourished— the sixth highest rate of child malnutrition in the world. In all three programs at CEIPA, students examine and question the context in which they live and seek solutions to their problems. It is very much a pedagogy of questions, as Paulo Freire stated in Pedagogy of the Oppressed.
I have known Gail since 2010, when she came to train us to be Maryknoll Affiliate missionaries. She was very dedicated and optimistic about forming a new chapter of Hispanic ladies, the only Spanish-speaking chapter in the US. She didn’t mind driving two hours from Raleigh and was always on time and ready for the meeting.
On April 30, 2011, we had our covenant signing with special guests Father Robert Kus and Father David LaBuda. After that, she called often to see how the chapter was doing and to advise us on different subjects that we could work on. She always made sure that we were treated with respect. In 2011, I had the opportunity to go with her to the Maryknoll Affiliate Conference in New York.
As the chapter grew, she knew that all the new members needed to know what Maryknoll means and what we were doing. So she came on weekends to make sure everyone could assist in new-member orientations. She explained how Father Price founded this mission and how fortunate we were to be in the place where he grew up. After the short training, we renewed our vows at the church. It was a very emotional moment.
Teresa Mariche is a newer member of the chapter. Teresa said about Gail, “She was a great example. She always inspired me to do my best. In spite of knowing her very little, I cared a lot for her. We will always remember her and miss her. May she rest in peace.”
Ellen McDonald was quoted in the January NSFA, “Maryknoll is like a visible symbol of a whole set of values. … At the same time, the personal vocation of each has taken Maryknoll out to places where we might not have gone.”
Kitty and I gathered young people together from Musoma area who we knew when we were Maryknoll Lay Missionaries. Melkiadi, MD, selected the restaurant. It was in a well-to-do neighborhood and on a Sunday morning where customers were having espresso coffee and their morning snack. We ate a lot more than that.
We had first met Melkiadi after Mass in Musoma, Tanzania. He asked us, “Do you think a person can live like St. Francis today?” He was one of the very few fifth-grade children who could even attempt to speak English. We asked him to help with our teaching of reading and math. He was great with children. He is now a medical doctor, a pediatrician.
We met Salome in 2004. She brought over 300 AIDS orphans to the celebration of The Day of the African Child. Sister Marion Hughes, MM, got us together. We asked Salome’s grandparents if we could help her with finances to take extra lessons after school to prepare her for Secondary school. Her grandmother said, “No.” Grandmother’s reasoning was that she needed Salome for cooking and caring for the house. And could we help her two brothers who were aids orphans, too? Salome graduated in December with a degree in Human Resources. She has a son, Willis, age six, and is expecting a child at the moment. Her brother Frank graduated December 2019 with a degree in engineering. He is helping his sister Salome with some finances. He is looking for work.
Modi is attending Montessori College and is pursuing a degree in early childhood education. She teaches in the mornings and has classes in the afternoon. She is totally into teaching. She is a very good teacher now, and I see her as a teacher of teachers in the future. Modi and her cousin were the first AIDS orphans we met in Musoma. We were with them when both of their mothers died of aids.
All of the above have been influenced by Maryknoll. Maryknoll Fathers, Brothers, Sisters, and Lay Missioners have made their presence known in the Musoma area community. Today, Fathers, Sisters, and lay Tanzanians carry on that whole Maryknoll set of values. Their vocations will take Maryknoll out to places in the future where we might not have gone.
So was this a Maryknoll Affiliate party?
Almost forgot! We spoiled Salome’s little boy Willis with all the food he could eat, including a huge bowl of ice cream.
Hearing about other Affiliate chapters holding retreats inspired me to ask our Northeast Florida Affiliates if they would like to hold a one-day retreat at our cottage, located one hour south of Jacksonville. Everyone responded with enthusiasm. Our Chapter had last gone on retreat in 2014, and we all felt the desire to do this again, even if just for one day.
We invited Monsignor Vincent Haut, a local retired priest, to lead us in our retreat and were excited that he was able to do so. After comparing calendars, we determined that everyone could participate on the last Saturday in October. As it turned out, one couple ended up unable to attend due to a funeral, but nine of us (plus one very sweet dog!) gathered with Monsignor at the cottage.
We began the day with each attendee describing what brought them to Maryknoll. Monsignor is a gifted spiritual leader who focused on the promises Jesus made to us about the Holy Spirit, as reported in John’s Gospel. We alternated between meeting all together and splitting up to discuss the latest lesson two-by-two. The weather was beautiful, leading us to spend a lot of time outdoors, enjoying God’s creation as we nurtured our souls.
We also nurtured our bodies. Each person brought a bag lunch to minimize meal preparation duties. We ended the actual retreat with a beautiful Eucharist around the cottage table. Then John and Mary prepared a simple supper for those who were able to stay longer.
I thank all the Chapters that inspired me to plan this retreat. Everyone who attended was blessed by the day we shared, and it is safe to say that our chapter has a new tradition!
At Northeast Florida Chapter’s recent meeting, David Courtwright, Affiliate Shelby Miller’s husband, spoke about his 2019 book, The Age of Addiction: How Bad Habits Became Big Business.* David’s scholarship has centered on the history of addiction in the US and worldwide.
Using illustrations and eliciting comments from the group, he traced how humans searched for new and potentially dangerous pleasures, from honey sought by cave dwellers to today’s digital technology and highly processed food. Many products and activities are potentially addictive, not just those we traditionally think of as vices: alcohol, gambling, prostitution, pornography, and drugs. Today, we face compulsive overeating, machine gambling, excessive social-media use, and even habitual tanning. These have medical and social costs and potential for addiction.
What is an addiction? It is a vice that has become unusually strong, preoccupying and damaging. An addiction is usually a subset of vice, and a vice is usually a subset of pleasure. Addictions cause harm. What counts as a pleasure, vice or addiction changes with time, culture and technology. For example, in Europe and the Americas sugar-rich food is being redefined as a vice, while the traditional vice of marijuana use is becoming a commercial pleasure though a contested one. Tobacco products are another example. Through global public health counter-offensives, cigarette use has declined. However, other forms of excessive consumption and addiction continue with the help of global industries, governments, and criminal organizations.
Is there anything we can do? Age restrictions on certain products help, but we must learn how products are enhanced to make us unwilling consumers.
After the talk, Mary Moritz said, “It was very meaningful to think of all the ways we can become addicted. It reminds us to be mindful of what we do and why we do it. David said that our brains actually get changed by addiction so that we need more and more of what we are addicted to in order to be satisfied.”
*An on-line book forum, ROROTOKO, describes the book and explains why David wrote it. See http://rorotoko.com/interview/20191204_courtwright_david_on_book_age_addiction_bad_habits_big_business/?page=1
Imagine the one billion Catholics worldwide insisting that the just war theory is against our religion. Not only that, we won’t allow capital punishment to be done in our name. I had that vision after Marie Dennis joined the closing session of our Cultivating Nonviolence group. She told us about the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative (CNI) formed by Pax Christi, our own Maryknoll Office of Global Concerns, and other Catholic organizations.
The CNI website, https://nonviolencejustpeace.net, gives information about their meetings and the workshop, 2019 Path of Nonviolence: Towards a Culture of Peace, held at the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.
The Catholic Nonviolence Initiative asks that we
A two page statement from the April 2019 meeting (PCI-CNI Statement from Path of Nonviolence workshop 2019) lists many efforts we could participate in. At the closing session of our Cultivating Nonviolence group, we committed to asking our local Catholic colleges to implement nonviolence training in their curricula, and we made or repeated the Vow of Nonviolence (https://paxchristiusa.org/resources/vow-of-nonviolence/). Join us in our New Year’s resolutions to help all to live in nonviolence.
Ken Butigan, a nonviolence trainer with Pace e Bene, suggested that the participants of our Cultivating Nonviolence study group write a letter to Pope Francis asking the pope for an encyclical on nonviolence.
We struggle to be Church and value your leadership. You wrote, “In our complex and violent world, it is truly a formidable undertaking to work for peace by living the practice of nonviolence.” in a message to participants in the “Nonviolence and Just Peace” conference in Rome in 2016.
We are inspired and challenged whenever we come together with Affiliates. We try to contact Affiliate chapters or Maryknollers wherever we travel. The Hospitality List maintained by Bob Short shows that many Affiliates and Chapters welcome visitors. Recently, Mary and John Moritz in Jacksonville, Florida, arranged for us to join them and a couple from their chapter, Mary Morris Williams and Bryan Williams, for a casual dinner in the Moritz home.