Affiliate chapters often lend a hand when visiting Maryknoll missioners give a talk or say Mass in their area. They often hand out Maryknoll magazines and donation envelopes. Affiliates could use this as an opportunity to tell people about the Affiliates and to invite them to visit their chapter.
Knowing that they will be assisting visiting Maryknollers this summer, the Seattle Maryknoll Affiliate Chapter has drafted a handout which could be attached to the Affiliate brochure, or perhaps tucked into the Maryknoll magazines they will distribute. First they discussed and drafted a meaningful description of their chapter and designed it to match the dimensions of the Maryknoll Affiliates’ tri-fold brochure (about 3 ½” by 8 ½”). Before finalizing it, they asked the entire chapter to review the draft. Here is the April 18 draft of Seattle’s description:
Quo Vadis? Where Are You Going? ... The Next Step is a Board-supported program which a team of Maryknoll Affiliates designed to complement already existing immersion programs. It is a time for people returning from immersion experiences to consider how to integrate significant cross-cultural insights into their life choices.
Why might Quo Vadis be important for the Maryknoll Affiliate Movement? Quo Vadis:
The Las Vegas Maryknoll Affiliate Chapter formed 15 years ago after Los Angeles Affiliates Lee and Punch Fermin moved to Las Vegas. The group has now grown to ten people, including four nurses and a recently retired doctor. We were fortunate to gather over a casual dinner with Lee and Punch Fermin, Nicet Santos, and Evelyn Pua. Nicet explained, “Many of us knew about Maryknoll and the Sisters and Fathers from when we were growing up in the Philippines.”
This is a chapter of busy, mostly retired people. They gather to share their lives and support each other. Many of their other activities are spiritually oriented. Their dedication belies the Las Vegas nickname of Sin City.
With my highlighter in hand, I read the NSFA, marking things that especially interest me. I loved seeing the suggestion to use the Maryknoll Affiliate pillars of Spirituality, Community, Global Vision, and Action at meetings. Sr. Norie’s January article, “Norie—A Presence with Past Connections,” reminded me of an article I wrote for the February 1995 Not So Far Afield. At that time, I had given away 5,700 Presence cards by Sister Joan Metzner, MM. I was a casino floor supervisor (pit boss) at Harrah’s Casino and I gave them to any and all I thought to be receptive. I retired in 2002, but it is still my mission. I just had 2,000 more Presence cards laminated, bringing my total to around 17,000.
Hello, we twenty Affiliates of Capítulo Niño Jesús are former catechists of the Parish of the Child Jesus, where Maryknoll Fathers worked in the past. We meet the first Sunday of each month.
We are collaborating and helping in a couple of areas. A group of us collaborates at Casa Bartimeo, which is directed by the Maryknoll father, Kyungsu Son, MM. There they train the visually impaired in massage therapy through both theory classes and practice.* In other projects, we work with elders and with young people at the secondary level of Colegio Estatal.
* See the article, “Casa Bartimeo, A light of hope for the blind in Peru,” in the March 2017 issue of
Maryknoll Magazine. The above photo was reprinted from this article.
On February 18, 2019, 13 of the 15 members of the Maryknoll Affiliate Chapter Misioneras Hispanas Santa Maria, founded in 2011, gathered together. They renewed their Covenant to be missionaries in the spirit of the Maryknoll Mission Movement: to bring Christ’s words and love to where it is not known, especially to the poor and unempowered, while living a life of simplicity, spirituality, global vision, community and action. They are unique among the 36 Affiliate Chapters in the United States in that their membership is comprised of all Latina women, working within a Parish structure. Their mission is the evangelization of Hispanic people living in the fourteen trailer parks around the Wilmington Area.
Melita Angel and Gloria Tan, the present and past coordinators, worked with Norma Rivera, the Basilica of St. Mary’s coordinator of Spanish Ministries, to define this unaddressed need. Father Chesco Garcia, the Parochial Vicar of the Basilica of St. Mary’s, blessed the women before their Covenant was received and accepted by Gail Kelley, representing the Maryknoll Affiliates’ local Regional Coordinator and the Executive Coordinator.
Gail pointed out that these women were walking in the footsteps of the “Tar Heel Apostle”—Father Thomas Price. Father Price, the first North Carolinian ordained to the priesthood, was born in Wilmington. Eventually becoming the Co-Founder of the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, he is being proposed for canonization and is represented by the Raleigh Diocese.
The Northeast Florida Affiliate Chapter was blessed to have Sister Mariana Clemence from Tanzania speak at the April meeting. She is a Franciscan Sister of St. Bernadette, and a parish in St. Augustine, Florida sponsored her trip to the US. Sister Mariana said the order has 220 active Sisters and almost 50 more women are preparing to join them.
Sister spoke of the many ways the Sisters reach out to the poor and needy in Tanzania, in the spirit of both St. Francis of Assisi and St. Bernadette. These include educational and medical work, as well as caring for orphans, lepers, and refugees. The Sisters don’t wait for poor people to come to them for help but travel to the smaller villages to “find them in their environment.” She noted that the many African dialects make communication difficult and impressed us with her command of English, her third language.
Sister Mariana helps unemployed youths and single mothers become self-employed and works on projects to provide reliable and clean water, the lack of which leads to water-borne diseases.
As Affiliate Brian Schoonover drove Sister Mariana to our meeting, she asked him the cost of the minivan that they were riding in. When he told her that it was a $30,000 car when new, she gasped and said, “Do you know how many houses that could buy where I live?”
We were all reminded of how much we have and how our lives are very different from those of the people whom Sister Mariana serves. But despite the poverty that Sister confronts daily, her smile never left her face. As we listened to her, we shared a wonderful bag of cashews that she had brought from Tanzania. We also enjoyed seeing her wear a Flagler College sweatshirt over her habit, a gift to her from Brian, her “chauffeur.” Affiliate Shelby Miller concluded that “Sister is a warm, generous, and joyful woman, firm in her faith and vocation.” Our understanding of life in Tanzania was enhanced by Sister’s open sharing with us.
Wilton, a young unschooled boy, lives across the road from our community garden in the back corner of barrio Santa Ana in the town of Esquipulas, Guatemala. Wilton stays with his mother and father in a very simple two room house—it has only a single light bulb hanging in the front room and one water faucet, which seldom gives water, attached to a make-shift sink. Because of drought during most of the year, the municipality does not receive enough water from its source for all the inhabitants of Esquipulas, especially those who live on the outskirts. Wilton also has a 19-year-old sister, Wendy, who lives in an adjacent structure with her 2-year-old baby.
During a recent mission immersion program in Santa Ana, I was working in the garden with eight of our seminarians from St. Joseph Seminary in Covington, LA, along with Don Chencho, our gardener, and his young helper, Pablo. Several years ago we had to hand-dig a well in our garden because we could only get a little water from the nearby stream where women come daily to wash clothes. In the midst of the morning work, Wilton walked up to me shyly and handed me a folded piece of paper, saying it was de mi papa. I opened the paper and read the scribbled Spanish note, having to decipher some of the words which were badly misspelled. The letter was a heartfelt plea for help!
“Dear brother Mateo and the other brothers. I make a cordial greeting in the name of Señor Jesús and our mother, always virgin María. The objective of the present (note) is to beg a favor that if you can give us water because my wife and children are dying of thirst because there is no water. Jesus says in his word that the one who gives a glass of water to these little ones makes it with me. Signed: Catalino Vasquez, husband of Josefina Hernandez.”
In March, Kitty and I welcomed asylum seekers from Latin America on the Texas-Mexico border at McAllen, Texas.
Lazarus teaches us that other persons are a gift. A relationship with people consists in gratefully recognizing their value. Even the poor person at the door of the rich is not a nuisance, but a summons to conversion and to change.
– Pope Francis, Lent 2017
Bienvenido! Welcome! We welcomed the families, moms, dads, and kids with smiles, handshakes, and kindness. Moms and dads were immediately relieved to be in a safe, kind, and loving place—the Respite Center in McAllen, Texas. We felt like real Americans with our history of welcoming strangers into our country and real Christians with love in our hearts.
Sr. Ann, a Sister of Mercy from Philadelphia, oriented us to the well-used former nursing home. We followed her wondering what task we could do as volunteers. The first room was packed full of donated clothing from all over the US that needed to be sorted into women’s, men’s, and children’s clothing. Someone had to do this separation of clothing. Next were the rooms for clean clothes, a separate room for infants’ clothes, shoe room, coat room, and men’s clothing rooms. The women’s room was a special place for the women volunteers and women to meet. They fitted and refitted clothing considering style and preference. What a beautiful and loving experience for all. I didn't think I would be of much help here.
Preparation for a Kairos retreat consists of three hours on each of eight Friday nights. Each of the 20 times I’ve done these 24 hours of preparation, I am greatly rewarded with a deep, lasting joy.
In a New York State prison, we give a four-day active retreat of talks, discussions, posters, and explanations. The Kairos Christian, interdenominational retreat welcomes all Christians, Jews, Muslims, atheists, etc. Each table of four residents (prisoners) and two Kairos volunteers becomes a community—a table family. We punctuate the retreat days with hymn singing led by a Kairos band, meals, and a break outside the gym in the fresh air and sunshine of the yard.
“Thinking Wrong” is a process to generate creative ideas, thinking outside the box. Where better to find such thinking than among retired Maryknoll Sisters in Monrovia, California, and ten or so undergraduate Kansas University design students—members of a Studio X project? Studio X projects use “Thinking Wrong” to create new possibilities.
The Sisters invited Greater Los Angeles Maryknoll Affiliate Chapter members to participate in “Thinking Wrong.” Three Affiliates—Jane Bivona, Hugh Menton, and Jean Menton—joined with the Sisters, KU students, and Pando Populus members to envision new happenings at the Sisters’ Monrovia community located against the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, on a beautiful November day. Four groups presented their ideas after a day of reflection and dialogue. Do you hear the Affiliates’ sense of spirituality, community, action, and global concern in the story?
As of January 2019, the Maryknoll Chapter Companion Initiative had its first successful Chapter Companions match: Fr. Bob Carleton, MM, has been matched with the Northeast Florida Affiliate Chapter that he started years ago.
“We are very excited to connect with Fr. Bob again,” said Mary Moritz, the Chapter Coordinator. “We believe that our chapter will be blessed by this connection.”
Five other chapter requests are pending with the Sisters and the Lay Missioners, and those matches will hopefully be finalized soon. In addition, three chapters have elected to formalize their ongoing relationship with a Maryknoll missioner as their Chapter Companionship.
We received a holiday update from David Stocker who participated in the Affiliates Mission Nonviolence Conference in Oregon this fall and shared “The Art of Nonviolence” in the Nov/Dec NSFA. He tells us:
I visited Rivera Sun (another speaker at Mission Nonviolence) in Taos after the Encuentro. We shared stories, and she is a great voice for the Insurrection.
On December 11th, one of our organizers in Tucson—Alejandra, a powerful advocate for immigrants’ rights and a woman who led part of the protest at Eloy Detention Center—was ordered to be deported. We are sure her activism has made her a target of ICE. What to do if all vulnerable people are silenced?
David also thanks readers of the NSFA for their donations to the SOA Watch Puppetistas:
With your support, Puppetistas were able to present the drum making workshop in two community centers in Mexico and at three locations in the US. Our music, arts, and drums were present at the Eloy protest and at the trial in Tucson of the border guard who killed a Mexican teen six years ago. Many of the children and their parents from the Mexican schools attended our Sunday gathering where the kids were featured in song and dance.
This is groundbreaking for SOAW and I’m proud that we were a part…. Through it all kids are still kids. In this world there can be no ‘others’ because all of the children belong to all of us. It really does take a village…. Thanks.
Compassion and Hospitality on the Border
Jerrie Drinkwine – Seattle Chapter
News flashes of a caravan of people from Central America moving through Mexico to seek asylum in the US filled television screens and social media throughout 2018. Scenes of children being separated from parents horrified most Americans. With these haunting reports, a team of five people from Holy Family Parish, Kirkland, WA, decided to go to the Texas/Mexico border in McAllen, to volunteer at the Humanitarian Respite Center in support of these asylum seekers and to gain information for a possible Adult Mission Trip in February 2019.
What happens after a family is processed by the Border Patrol and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and enters the Respite Center mirrors the social teachings of Jesus. Families come off prison buses from ICE with one adult per family having a tracking device secured to one ankle. All shoe laces and belts have been removed by ICE to prevent potential suicide. Once in the Respite Center, they are welcomed warmly by a team of volunteers and four paid staff members. This is where the hospitality and compassion take place.