After my volunteer assignment in San José, Costa Rica, I traveled by bus to visit Kitty Madden, a Maryknoll Affiliate in Matagalpa, Nicaragua. She has lived there for 29 years, putting her heart and soul into serving the needs of high-risk pregnant women. Casa Materna, established in 1991 as the very first maternal care center in Nicaragua, offers food, shelter, education, medical care, transportation and support for high-risk pregnant women from rural areas for one to two weeks before and after childbirth.
Only a few miles from Seattle, Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action shares fence line with the third largest nuclear arsenal in the world, Naval Submarine Base Kitsap-Bangor. This base contains more nuclear weapons than the countries of Israel, North Korea, China, India, Pakistan, England, and France combined. Ground Zero, founded in 1977 by Jim and Shelley Douglass, offers ongoing training in nonviolence and resistance to nuclear weapons. Ground Zero distributes leaflets to folks entering the base almost every week and has influenced some of them to support Ground Zero.
Imagine this: You are in a foreign country, waiting for a van in front of your hotel. You notice a woman who was on the bus from the airport the night before and at breakfast. She smiles and you start talking, haltingly in a combination of gestures, some English and assorted, memorized foreign phrases. You learn that she is on her way to Rome to study Italian for 15 days, leaving her husband behind for this short trip. You try to explain that you are there on a mission trip and are waiting for a van to pick you up. When the bus for the airport arrives, she smiles and gives you a hug “goodbye.”
This was one of my first experiences in Sao Paulo, Brazil, waiting for Catherine Heinhold, the Maryknoll Lay Missioner who would be our guide for 11 days. A hug at the end of a brief conversation! What kind of people are these Brazilians? I told this story to Catherine shortly after she picked up my husband Bryan and me. She commented that the lady I spoke to probably continued to think of me on her way to the airport and wonder about my life.
My husband, John, and I met Marie and Lee Parmly when we made our Cursillo weekends some 40 years ago. Marie and Lee were active in Cursillo, Marriage Encounter, and the Charismatic Movement. We knew their five children were grown and they were retired, but we still marveled at all that they did in service to God.
Several years after we met them, Lee and Marie were in a serious car accident. Lee died and Marie was injured. Marie’s faith sustained her during this difficult time, and after she recovered, she felt called to be a Maryknoll Lay Missioner. Eventually, Marie convinced the Lay Missioners that she wasn’t too old.
Marie went to Mexico as a Lay Missioner, and we didn’t see her for a while. Then we heard that Marie had been shot in Mexico and was returning to the states to recover. Finally, she came back to Florida and we would see her from time to time.
Beginning on Friday evening with a welcome from Northwest Regional Coordinator and Seattle Affiliate Jerrie Drinkwine, on through Sunday morning Mass, the Western Regional Affiliate Conference was a journey into mission, social justice, and community among attendees. We learned of those on the margins: migrant farm workers; trafficked men, women and children; the people of Haiti and El Salvador. Conference goers experienced an atmosphere of community, meeting and making friends.
Mission accomplished and then some! Thankful, grateful, joyful, responses praising the Midwest Affiliate Chapters’ gathering keep coming in:
“I felt like I was in a small prison, staying in the house most of the day, always afraid that someone was going to report us, and my daughter and I would be deported, leaving my husband who was working legally as a temporary resident.”
Thus spoke Ramona Casas, a migrant living in an immigrant colonia in Alamo, Texas, directly across the Rio Grande from her home in Reynosa, Mexico.
Canonization is really a gift the church makes to itself.—Robert Ellsberg
The May 4, 2015 issue of America Magazine included an article by Robert Ellsberg, editor-in-chief and publisher of Orbis Books and previously the managing editor of The Catholic Worker. In “Called to be Saints, Why I support the canonization of Dorothy Day” (http://americamagazine.org/issue/called-be-saints), Ellsberg delves into not only the pros and cons of canonizing Dorothy Day, but also the whole concept of sainthood.
Besides this thorough and thoroughly readable article, Ellsberg also wrote, “Five Years With Dorothy Day” for America in 2005. See http://americamagazine.org/issue/551/article/five-years-dorothy-day.
In his address to the Maryknoll Society Centennial Symposium in 2011*, Fr. Steven Judd, MM, reminded us of three traditional marks or traits that characterize Maryknoll Spirituality. They are affability, availability, and adaptability. When I read his comments on them recently, I said to myself, “Well, they’re pretty accurate.” If I were to describe Maryknollers, I might not use the same words, but the ideas are readily apparent to anyone who has been around the Maryknoll family. I began to realize that these three qualities are reflective of the Maryknoll people we encounter and love, and are also aspirational. They present for us real goals, lofty and achievable, that help define who we are.
In August 2014, I learned through Partners of the Americas (Oregon is Costa Rica’s Partner) about the JumpStart Program’s need for English teachers in Costa Rica. I had wanted to visit Costa Rica again, and this seemed like a good way to both volunteer and revisit the country.
Robert Guice, contact person for the Houston Affiliates, describes their chapter as “actively pursuing and supporting short term mission.”
This chapter is grateful for the presence of Fr. Gerry Kelly, MM, and for the Houston Maryknoll House where they hold their meetings. They are active supporters of Maryknoll, helping at mission fairs and at diocesan meetings. The Galveston-Houston Diocese strongly supports mission, having many sister parishes, short-term mission trips to the border regions, and great synergy with Affiliates. Many of the members are very active with the diocese and the Texas Mission Council. Since many of the Affiliates go to various mission sites, chapter meetings are planned when people are in town.
The heavens opened over San Salvador on May 22, 2015, during the evening of the beatification ceremony of Oscar Romero. Tens of thousands of people from every corner of the world, the majority campesinos from El Salvador, congregated for the vigil Mass. For the Salvadoran campesinos, this had been a mostly dry “rainy season,” and the pouring rain was a blessing. As the vigil Mass continued, I sought refuge from the curtains of water in the midst of the sea of people around me. Soon I made eye contact with an old lady who was standing under her umbrella. Most likely my look made her signal me to join her. Not too long after, another old lady who was trying to cover herself with a small piece of plastic came to stand with us; then a boy of about 12 years with a gentle look in his eyes also joined us.
In 2004, my wife, Katy, and I took a break from teaching and moved to Reno to do organizing work for the 2004 election. After the election, we returned to teaching and opened up a project-based middle school program with an existing Montessori school. Both experiences connected us to a great community of energetic locals who eventually helped us launch “Be the Change.”
In 2014, several Affiliates reported on their part in Campaign Nonviolence (CNV) in the Not So Far Afield, and the Maryknoll Office of Global Concerns endorsed the Campaign. The CNV web site reports that over 100 actions are already planned to connect the dots between war, poverty, and climate change.