Thanksgiving evokes harvest gratitude just before winter. Yet the myth of Thanksgiving that we tell is rife with inaccuracies and omissions that have endured for 400 years. The story of a Wompanoag, Tisquantum (Squanto), in 1614, gives us a more honest look at our American colonial roots.
A Report on the Maryknoll Affiliates’ Southern Region Conference
New Orleans, LA, Sept. 30 – Oct. 2, 2016
Rev. Gerald E. Kelly, MM – Director of Mission Education & Promotion, Southern Region
Congratulations to Matt Rousso and the New Orleans Affiliates for a very successful Southern Region Conference. Held just outside New Orleans at a retreat center in Metairie, the conference opened with a moving prayer and procession highlighting the four Affiliate pillars of Spirituality, Community, Action and Global Vision. For the remaining time, the diverse modes of presentation that followed spoke to the theme: “Mission as Accompaniment: Walking Each Other Back Home.”
Somewhere in his writings, Saint Francis of Assisi wrote that the Lord “…wants me to be a new kind of fool in the world…” Just a few minutes into gathering together as Maryknollers—seeing how the New Orleans Chapter welcomed all of us, the global and local issues that consumed us (and the consumer issues that didn’t), the wholehearted laughter that filled us, and maybe even the simple dress that clothed us—gave some evidence that we too were aspiring towards the new fool in the world classification. The advanced levels of insight, education, creativity and life experience don’t disqualify in this regard.
Matt Rousso shared this reflection at the Southern Region Conference, and Mary used it in their Chapter meeting. She now offers it for all of us to use.
We should be able to see by what Pope Francis has been saying in his writings and in his speeches that he is strongly affirming that mission is much more about “being with rather than doing for.” A couple of years ago, a friend of mine shared with me a Christmas card she had received. There was a simple message in the card which read “we’re all just walking each other home.” That message has stuck with me and often impinged on my meditation and prayer. I have often been moved when I realize this is how God in Jesus has been with me all during my life —slowly and lovingly walking me home. And I have often thought how true this is of our call to mission. Are we not all called to walk each other home? Is not this what Pope Francis is saying when he says “we must all learn the art of accompaniment”? Or when he says, “we must practice the art of listening”?
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
• Have you have been “accompanying someone?” How did this experience begin? What has it been like for you?
• Is there someone(s) that you sense you are being called to accompany - to “walk home”? How are you experiencing this call?
The Mwanza Affiliates sent colorful cloth bags from one of their women’s projects to the Portland Oregon Affiliates, some of whom have visited them in Tanzania. The Portland Chapter also has helped Affiliate (returned Maryknoll Lay Missioner) Bertha Haas raise funds to support the school for handicapped children that she started there.
Recently I had a powerful interfaith experience at Hartford Seminary near Windsor, Connecticut. The intensive eight-day course entitled Building Abrahamic Partnerships was structured as an interfaith community of learning for Jews, Christians, and Muslims, all of whom trace their origin to the patriarch Abraham. Our class of 10 Jews, 8 Muslims, 9 Protestants of various denominations, and 3 Catholics heard lectures by Jewish rabbis, Muslim imams, Christian ministers, and seminary professors.
The highlight for me was a small group experience led by a Jewish rabbi, a Muslim woman, and a United Church of Christ woman minister. We each shared a personal experience that we had of God/Allah, through which we were able to meet on a spiritual level above our differences.
Editor: After many years in mission in Oaxaca, Mexico, four former Maryknoll Lay Missioners, Mary Gill and Pat Denevan remain in Oaxaca, and Kathy and Phil Dahl-Bredine spend part of the year there. They all wrote in recent newsletters of the conflicts in Oaxaca. Mary and Pat provided this August 17th update.
Ninety-four days have passed since the teachers in Oaxaca began large-scale protests against the federal government’s “reform” of the educational system. The protesters in Nochixtlán (a city north of Oaxaca City) blocked a main highway to Oaxaca, which caused a huge traffic problem. The Federal Police came to forcibly remove the protesters, resulting in 11 persons being killed (in two locations). This action received international attention and strengthened the resolve of the protesters. The opposition to the Education Reform now includes not only the teachers but the parents of the school children. In Nochixtlán, the local town authorities, along with the rest of the Mixteca Region, have joined the protests and have led marches to the Zócalo in Mexico City. Protests are also happening in 22 other Mexican states.
Are you coming to MAC 2017 in Guatemala?
Regional Coordinators (RCs) in the US have been asked to survey the chapters in their region to find out how many members plan to attend and how many might attend. If you plan to attend, contact your RC to add your name to the list.
Watch for details about travel grants if you’d like to attend but will need assistance. Perhaps chapters could share the cost for a member to represent them.
This preliminary information will help the Guatemala MAC 2017 Committee make MAC 2017 a great experience for all involved.
Palm oil, an important export for Central and South American countries, is produced by large corporations. To increase production, the corporations buy land that has been privatized from indigenous communities. Increased production also requires massive amounts of water, for which dams and reservoirs must be built. These water projects destroy rivers and rob subsistence farms of irrigation water. Palm oil production practices have also contaminated water sources.
The conflicting interests of corporations, governments, indigenous people, and the very environment are being discussed in various forums, with Maryknollers at Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns (MOGC) and in Guatemala providing valuable insight into this issue.
Costansia Mbgoma hosted a gathering of the Maryknoll Affiliates of Mwanza, Tanzania at her home this July. US Affiliates may remember Costansia from the conferences she has attended and her time in San Francisco.
Six Mwanza Affiliates shared scripture reflections, food, and fellowship with guests Maryknoll Sister Celeste, Portland Affiliate Bertha Haas, and a Maryknoll Sisters candidate. Many of the Mwanza Affiliates are former students of the Maryknoll Sisters at Rosary College. They stay connected to the Sisters and their fellow students as a means of retaining their Maryknoll ideals and values in a society that often doesn’t share them. They attract many younger members, including men, who are attracted by Maryknoll spirituality and are called to see social needs and respond.
Ten members of the Korean Chapter gathered at the Maryknoll Sisters’ house in Seoul on June 11, 2016.
We began with a sharing on the Sunday readings for that week, as well as on our activities for the past month. There are many tragic issues in society these days, which demonstrate a lack of concern for others and a marginalization of many people. In particular, we spoke about criticism and indifference towards others, the inability in daily life to overcome prejudices, and the frustration that in such circumstances we are often unable to find the true way to respond. In addition, we reflected upon the reality of many women who suffer from social structures that continue to discriminate against women. The sharing was an opportunity to look at how we as believers can respond to the issues we are faced with.
We usually meet monthly, but due to summer vacations, our next meeting was on August 27, 2016 when we gathered for a day-long retreat.
While California Central Coast (CCC) Affiliates share a potluck meal, they talk of their passions and missions. Affiliate Joan Bogle worked with the Alzheimer Association and helped lobby for successful legislation that secured funding for related programs. By facilitating a small Alzheimer support group, she repaid the support she received when her husband was suffering with Alzheimers and she was his sole caregiver. Now she looks for ways to involve the Senior Adult Ministry of her parish in mission.
Joyce Miller’s passion is the Montessori preschool she and her husband founded 35 years ago. She was happy to hear that the Maryknoll Sisters in Tanzania were involved in a Montessori school. Over the years she and her husband have also helped raise thousands of dollars for Alpha, a right-to-life organization that counsels pregnant women and supports mothers.
Easy Meeting: Family – The Affiliate Community – The Kin-dom of God
(To reprint this Easy Meeting on two pages, go to the Download: Not So Far Afield – Supplemental Material – 2016 09 10 Easy Meeting.)
Begin by reading “Family of God” (Maryknoll Book of Prayer, page 18):
“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”—John 13:34-35
The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts. … If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is part of it.-—1 Corinthinians 12:12, 26-27
Nothing can separate us from the love of God and nothing can separate us from each other. We are made in the image and likeness of God.
Prayer begins with the awesome recognition of our oneness with God. It continues with the realization of our unity with each other. We are all members of one family—the family of God. Let us Pray.
Read the articles mentioned below from the September/October 2016 NSFA, and consider these questions:
1. Compare your experience of family with that in the article from NTLH, “Family in Guatemala.”
3. How does your Affiliate community prefigure the Kin-dom of God?
Close with the prayer, “God made us a family” (Maryknoll Book of Prayer, page 19):
God made us a family
We need one another
We love one another
We forgive one another
We work together
We play together
We worship together
Together we use God’s word
Together we grow in Christ
Together we love all people
Together we serve our God
Together we hope for Heaven
These are our hopes and ideals.
Help us to attain them, O God,
Through Jesus Christ our Lord.
—Florence Sossong, Pittsburgh, PA
Two simple questions were answered by family members from age three through adult of both genders, some members of Affiliates families: What is family for you? What do you most enjoy doing with your family? Their responses confirmed that love and care are essential elements for families of hope in a society.
Just as a plant needs love and care to develop in all its splendor, in families, love and care are the seeds necessary to the growth of a person capable of critical thinking, integrated, always seeking freedom for self and others, and in the future able to project the love and care they receive.
Here is a sampling of the responses*: