“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)
Did you or your Maryknoll Affiliate chapter celebrate Earth Day? Were you able to participate in the Climate March in Washington, DC, April 29, or in some related event in your community?
In Washington, DC, the Maryknoll Office of Global Concerns met for Mass at St. Dominic Church before the Climate March on Saturday, April 29th. The day before the March, MOGC invited participants to the Catholic Climate Covenant’s free lobby training (http://www.catholicclimatecovenant.org/) , followed by a pot luck dinner, film, and prayers.
A recent communication from Maryknoll Affiliate Robert Guice of Houston shows what active missioners the Houston Affiliates are:
In January, Dick Horstman joined a group of parishioners to take more than 100 gifts to the children of Piedras Negras, help at a soup kitchen, and deliver other gifts to an orphanage there. In March and April, he helped take youth and adults from four different high schools and a parish on mission trips to Eagle Pass, near the US/Mexico border.
Bob and Ruth Kleeman also went on a mission trip to Eagle Pass at a different time in March.
Ron Covey continues spending considerable time at his mission, Caminando Por La Paz in Guatemala City, where they work in many ways to be good neighbors, including tutoring 60 young students and distributing free shoes. Ron and Robert also staffed the Maryknoll Booth at a Vocation Expo at St. Mary’s Seminary in Houston. In July, Ron and Henry Yu will staff the “Sweatshop” booth at the Diocesan Youth Conference.
Several members will be traveling to Guatemala in November to participate in MAC 2017. If you will be there, too, plan to chat with the Houston Affiliates for ideas to take home to your own chapter.
At the Seattle Maryknoll Affiliates’ April meeting, Ralph Maughan, an Affiliate since 1996, spoke about his recent trip to Bangkok to visit Maryknoll Brothers John Beeching and Tim Raible and to pursue his other mission activities in Southeast Asia.
Both Brothers John and Tim have been friends of the Seattle Affiliates for many years. In 1997, Brother John visited the Seattle Affiliate Chapter and gave a talk about his work in Thailand. As a consequence, the chapter invited Brother John to be the keynote speaker at the first regional conference Seattle hosted in 2003. Brother Tim Raible was in charge of the Seattle Maryknoll House for five or more years in the early 2000s. Brother Tim was actively engaged with the Seattle Affiliates during that time, attending monthly meetings and assisting and involving the Affiliates in numerous ways.
Brother John’s influence also impacted many of the Affiliates besides Ralph. He invited Affiliates to come to Bangkok and to teach English to the monks and refugees in the Buddhist wats. Brother John’s message certainly impacted the lives of Ralph and his wife Kate. Both of them have visited Bangkok almost yearly to assist Brother John in teaching English to the monks.
Their mission trips gradually extended beyond Bangkok. Ralph and Kate spent six weeks in East Timor with Fr. Bill O’ Leary, MM. They installed solar panels in some buildings, repaired the rectory bathroom, and assisted in a feeding program. They are most likely the first and last Affiliates to work in East Timor with Maryknoll.
Ralph and Kate have also made almost yearly trips to Burma (Myanmar) through the invitation of Brother John. The area they visit in Northeastern Myanmar has been one of the most problematic and dangerous parts of the country. The Maughans worked in partnership with a congregation of sisters from Ireland. In Myanmar, Ralph and Kate installed solar panels on an HIV/AIDS home, on the sisters’ residence and on a children’s home. They also bought food and medicines for some needy Myanmarese.
In a new phase of his mission life, Ralph is now serving as Co-Regional Coordinator for the Northwest Maryknoll Affiliates along with me, Janet Quillian.