Articles (212)

Monday, 29 June 2015 00:00

The Three A’s of Maryknoll Spirituality

Written by

John Moritz – Southeast Regional Coordinator Northeast Florida Chapter

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. 

Monday, 29 June 2015 00:00

JumpStart Needed in Costa Rica

Written by

Gabriella Maertens – Portland Chapter

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. 

Monday, 29 June 2015 00:00

Houston: An Inspiration

Written by

A Chapter Profile

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.

Monday, 29 June 2015 00:00

Pilgrimage in El Salvador

Written by

Victor Maqque – University of Notre Dame

Multitudes congregate in San Salvador during the beatification ceremonies.

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.

Monday, 29 June 2015 00:00

Be the Community

Written by

Kyle Chandler-Isacksen – Reno Chapter

Kyle gives recent visitor Mary Ryan-
Hotchkiss, NSFA co-editor, a tour of
an ecological, low-cost cob cabin.

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.”

Monday, 29 June 2015 00:00

Campaign Nonviolence 2015

Written by

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. 

Saturday, 27 June 2015 00:00

Global Vision in Phoenix

Written by

A Chapter Profile

“We join with you in a global vision and option for the poor. We are not alone. We are in solidarity,” say the Phoenix Affiliates to the world and to other Affiliates. 

Phoenix Chapter Affiliates: front row, l to r:  Fr. Scott Harris, MM; Pam Snyder, Gaby Franzoni, Lynn Brysacz and Elaine Espericueta; top row: Mark Larson, John Meyer, Mary Ann Meyer, Selina Larson
Wednesday, 13 May 2015 00:00

Saying Goodbye to Bob Metzger

Written by

 Joe Santos – San Diego Chapter

In early March, the San Diego Chapter of Maryknoll Affiliates met in the home of Erin and Spencer Rickwa to remember Bob Metzger with stories, songs, and prayer. Bob, who had been attending our Affiliate meetings for a number of years, was found dead in his apartment this past December 31st.

Bob, a retired teacher, lived alone and loved to travel. He had been a Maryknoll Seminarian years ago and maintained contact with some of his former classmates. He especially loved to talk about his visits to Maryknoll and with Maryknollers.

 Our gathering began with the prayer, “Teach me Lord,” by Fr. Joseph Veneroso, MM. Erin recalled Bob’s visit to Cochabamba and his difficulty in finding the Maryknoll Language School. Then Michele shared her collage of photos and words that reminded us of Bob, such as: 

Listening to “Let There Be Peace On Earth,” we noted that he had been a calm and peaceful man, even to the end! Pat, Spencer, Jim, and Peggy talked of Bob as being in the next door room, or, better still, in our midst, as we heard the song: “I will not leave you comfortless, I will not leave you alone. I will come to you in the silence; Do not be afraid, I am with you.”

Margie read John O’Donohue’s poem, “For Death,” as well as various quotes on death, including the Irish Proverb, “May you get to heaven a half hour before the Devil knows you are dead.” Joe’s aunt had written a prayer on the occasion of his brother’s death. It ended with, “Oh sweet Jesus... that we be reunited together with you in heaven to live eternally united in your heart.”

Wake attendees, l. to r.: Erin Rickwa, Margie Carroll, Peggy Santos, Michele Dunne, Pat Reilly, Fr. Bill Headly, Spencer Rickwa, Jim DeHarpporte. Inset: Joe Santos, photographer.

We finished our meeting with the song: “I am the Bread of Life... And I will raise you up, and I will raise you up…” But the wake was not over until we toasted Bob with some brew before sharing a meal. May he rest in Peace in the arms of our Mother Mary! 

Wednesday, 13 May 2015 00:00

A Day with Peace Activist Amos Gvirtz

Written by

David Stocker – NSFA Staff Editor

For peace activists on the front line, it is true you can feel small, alone and ineffective. But still you demonstrate to bring issues to light. This makes authorities uncomfortable, and you may feel like well...we are just three people protesting. You will probably never know that maybe your action just prevented a massacre from going forward.
Amos Gvirtz, Israeli peace activist, author

Photo by skip schiel ©

Amos Gvirtz is an unassuming Israeli man. A peace activist and pacifist, his personal moral choices have come at a cost, being labeled a “self hating Jew” shunned by family and community. Yet he leads tours for international humanitarian visitors and joins demonstrations in the Negev and in the West Bank to expose the atrocious human rights violations.  He has had a long time to think over his position. I was excited to find out he was going to tour the US and Canada this April, and I made sure to bring him to speak in Rockford, Illinois.

Amos is a documentarian, for almost ten years publishing an email newsletter called, Don’t Say We Did Not Know (to subscribe, email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) wherein are revealed facts of the systematic home demolitions, beatings, arrests and dispossessions, confiscation of land, crop destruction, theft of animals, and well poisonings. Amos connects these events to the places and names of the families economically ruined and the children made homeless. An unimpeachable witness to the human rights violations and apartheid, he tells only of what he knows first hand.

Amos presented at Emmanuel Lutheran Church and at the mosque of the Muslim Association of Greater Rockford. It was a teaching of a suppressed history, refreshingly free from political agenda. Amos gave clear answers to our questions. But he also commented on the nature of community, and he shared a message for all peace activists in our struggles to Think Globally and Act Locally. He said,

What was very special for me to see was this church that is so much about peace. Where peace is central to it. It was wonderful. And to see Muslims visit the church and Christians visit the mosque to be together is really peace itself. For me this was impressive.

After his presentation, we talked till late about the power of convictions, the polarization and militarization of identity groups, and the terrible consequences of letting loyalty take the place of moral judgment. 

Next morning at the bus station we ran into a Rockford philanthropist who was a sponsor in the creation of Rockford›s Keeling Puri Peace Plaza in 2000.  As a music educator who is also a peace activist, I performed music and led children›s activities at the Keeling Puri Peace Plaza on International Day of Peace since the first event 9/21/01 (imagine that time) thru 2010.  But I challenged the absence of the Palestinian flag from the circle of flags representing those immigrant populations that have made Rockford their home in America. The peace plaza policy regarding displayed flags required “statehood.”

What could I say to Palestinian friends here?  Same as world do not exist; you must wait and be patient. I was advised by Day of Peace event organizers that my selections of peace music should not carry an anti war message.  At the time I was preparing the song, “Imagine,” by John Lennon, with a group of children.

In this chance encounter at the bus station—introducing the Israeli peace activist and the Rockford philanthropist, I asked if the UN’s recognition of Palestine as a state would mean the Palestinian flag could fly over the Peace Plaza. She said maybe this could be reconsidered. A new day...

Jim and Karen Halberg Weaver – Returned Maryknoll Lay Missioners

In all our lives, but especially as we ponder where and how to invest our mission efforts, we face a discernment process. What is our role in God’s plan?


1. Read through the entire meeting plan.

2. Plan who will read the passages.

3. Determine which discussion questions to use at your meeting and who will lead the discussions.


Meeting Plan

Opening Prayer:

My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself,
   And the fact that I think that I am following
   Your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you
Does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything
Apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this,
You will lead me by the right
Road though I may know
Nothing about it.
Therefore, will I trust you
Always though I may seem lost
And in the shadow of death, I will not fear, for you
Are forever with me, and you will never leave me
To face my perils alone.

    A Maryknoll Book of Prayer, p. 100, by Fr. Tom Marti, MM, from a prayer by Thomas Merton in Thoughts in Solitude (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1958)


While still in Bolivia but having completed their work with Maryknoll Lay Missioners, the Halberg Weavers paused to discern what their next stop would be.

Discernment is one of those words we use often as missioners. It's a way of trying to be in touch with what really gives us life and paying attention to how God is present in that.

As we began 2014, we committed—as a family—to spending each Sunday afternoon during January examining our hopes and dreams for the next stage of our lives. Taking steps into the unknown future can be daunting for an individual, so we were well aware of how difficult it would be to meet the hopes of five people. However, our sharing of those hopes fell into place, like a harvest following a good growing season.

Discussion questions:

Think of a time you had to make a major decision. Were you able to set aside time to discuss your options? How many other people did your decision affect? Were these people part of the decision-making process? Did you consciously make prayer part of your discernment process? How long did you ponder your decision?

It was immediately clear that all five of us wanted to live closer to Grandma and Grandpa Halberg, which would mean leaving Bolivia and moving to Washington State. We were also in agreement that our last year in Bolivia would be lived to the full. For the kids, it meant one more school year with their Bolivian friends.

The Halberg Weaver children and friends.

For Karen, it meant leaving her work responsibilities and focusing on "tending the hearth." And for me, it meant that I would continue my commitment to form a primarily Bolivian parish team.

And so our three children began a new school year: Jake in 1st grade, Emma in 5th, and Daniel in 8th. They had a great year. Besides their studies, they participated in traditional Bolivian dancing and learned to play traditional Bolivian instruments. They played basketball with friends and continued to form life-long ties that I'm sure will endure, wherever we live.

First day of school photo.


Ayde selling produce in wheelbarrow

My work of creating a parish-based community agriculture project continued to solidify and expand. Our parish garden produced enough vegetables to support a full-time gardener who sells its produce twice a week at the church. The German foundation, Miserior, has become a partner in a full-time team that visits families and acts as a resource for nutrition and gardening advice. Funding for this project is necessary for its continuity. Significantly, this ecological work is now included in the parish vision, formally structured in the pastoral plan.

Discussion Questions:

It is said, “Maryknoll Missioners go where they are needed but not wanted and move on when they are wanted but not needed.” Have you ever faced a transition, a time of moving on, when you could see that what you had achieved would survive and grow in the hands of others? Or conversely, did you ever need to make a change because a position was so frustrating it was not healthy for you? How did your previous experience influence your decision about what to do next? Did you seek out counsel while making the decision?

Jim and son Jake count blessings at Carnaval.

Our family lived the year of 2014 appreciating all the beautiful, enriching eccentricities and cultural celebrations/customs that make Bolivia and its people so special: the Carnaval parade in March; the trip Daniel and I made to southern Bolivia; watching Daniel's best friends playing on Cochabamba’s team in the national youth soccer tournament; all the parish activities for young children. So many threads of our life in Bolivia were weaving themselves together! 

Jake and classmate play soccer.

At the end of the school year, we began the process of packing up and sorting out the things we had collected over the years. Without the help of our Maryknoll friends, our neighbors, and our co-workers, it would have been overwhelming.

Alejandro, Casta, and their little car.

Casta and Alejandro made many trips in their little car, hauling fridge and stove and rabbits to new homes. One family from the store where we bought most of our groceries showed up unexpectedly on our last day with chicken dinners not only for us but also for all who were there helping out. We will forever remember how Bolivians know what to do in the moment, and offering everything, with no holding back for what may be needed the next day.

We are now in Washington State, still discerning our next steps. We are in the process of purchasing some farmland near the area where Karen grew up. I am excited about pulling together my mission work by engaging in the growing movement toward local food economies and sustainable, community-supported agriculture. The chance to return to farming offers so much towards our rooting ourselves in the fabric of this rural community.

Over our 20 years in mission, our family has enjoyed an amazing web of relationships. We are grateful for the love and support of so many friends and marvel at the grace of the life we have lived thus far. We are thankful for the support of all who have joined us in our journey, as well as for the awesome Mystery that bumped us together along the way.

Discussion Questions:

Having read the Halberg Weaver family’s story, what will be your approach the next time your are faced with a life-changing decision?


Closing Prayer (in the style of your chapter):

God, if this is your will, help me.
If not, stop me.

               —Father Joseph Veneroso, A Maryknoll Book of Prayer, p. 100

To communicate with the Halberg Weavers, please send your email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and your message will be forwarded.


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