The Maryknoll Affiliates New England Chapter met for our annual retreat at Watch Hill, RI, Nov. 13-15. Rather than follow a formal framework, attendees shared life events and spiritual insights related to the theme of the three A’s of Maryknoll Spirituality.
“Retreat master” Myra Plant instructed us to define the relevance of the three A’s which characterize Maryknoll Spirituality: affability, availability, and adaptability. Three groups took an hour to define these terms and compare the definitions with our daily lives and sense of mission. These are some of the thoughts and phrases that emerged:
The 2015 Maryknoll Affiliate Survey produced 60 pages of responses, giving Affiliate leadership guidance and challenges for years to come. In all, 82 people, mostly US Affiliates completed the survey, which was a mix of qualitative (dialog box) and quantitative questions. Board member Rich Lessard led the survey committee, from survey design through beta testing, compilation of responses, and presentation of preliminary results to the Board.
To connect with Affiliates more directly, the survey asked what being an Affiliate means to them, how they relate to other Maryknollers, and their deeper heart wishes, passions, and abiding commitments. The purpose was to clarify and strengthen our relationships as Affiliates-to-Affiliates and as Affiliates-to-Maryknollers—Sisters, Fathers and Brothers, and Lay Missioners, and to invite all Affiliates into greater ownership of future direction setting.
Scouting the massive Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, set up for the 10,000 scheduled attendees, I was awed. A luxuriant parade of multi-colored folks from 80 countries were walking the corridors, meeting with friends, making new acquaintances, and scouting the environment like me. When else can you get to see some 40 different religious and spiritual traditions of the world in one place, with one heart and soul? So much peace and goodwill showed in everyone’s faces, and we shared the same mood of cheerful greeting. Awesome!
Chicago Affiliate Renate Schneider has invited many Affiliates to join her in Haiti since 2010. For several years, my wife Ann and I had been spending three cold Wisconsin winter weeks in sunny, warm Haiti, teaching at the University of the Nouvelle Grand’Anse (UNOGA) in the small city of Jeremie, surrounded by very, very, very rural Haiti.
Ann taught conversational English, and I taught a course in basic project management. Ann’s teaching English to Haitians was a no-brainer. Haitians are always anxious to practice their English with others, and knowing English could help them get a position with one of the many NGOs (non-government organizations) that have established residency on the island. There may be more NGOs in Haiti than there are trees. Ann went on to develop a structured curriculum that any future teacher could pick up and follow.
On November 21st, Father John Spain, MM, came to Caminando Por La Paz here in Guatemala City to offer a memorial Mass for our Founder, Thomas Goekler, MM, who died on Thanksgiving Day, 2010.
When Father Tom died, it was believed that Caminando had very little chance of continuing its projects in Paradiso II, one of the most marginalized barrios of Guatemala City. We feel assured God wants the program because it is still here and growing slowly. Yes, of course the loss of Father Thomas was a great tragedy, but so much has happened since.
Tuesday of Thanksgiving week, my wife Janet, along with a friend and co-volunteer from the St. Vincent de Paul Learning Center, took over our kitchen and began a feverish cooking spree. Several hours later, they filled the trunk of their car with huge pans of bread stuffing, bowls of salad, cranberry relish, etc., and headed for a center in one of the impoverished neighborhoods of New Orleans. There they met up with five other Maryknoll Affiliates and five volunteers from the Catholic Worker House. Along with Janet and Francis’s pans of food, more pans of mashed potatoes, baked turkeys, bread, and desserts were brought in and set up for serving.
In commemoration of the 35th Anniversary of the death of the Martyrs in El Salvador, Ita, Maura, Dorothy and Jean, who died on Dec 2, 1980, I will be taking my 28th annual Vow of Nonviolence at the Carmelite Sisters in Reno.
Jessie Poynton, MM, reminded many of us, “My friend Maura Clark entered Maryknoll the same year I did, in 1950, and was a close friend. And Ita Ford who worked in one of the most difficult missions in Chile for some seven years. Another dear friend. I also knew the other Sister and the lay-person, Jean, because I went to El Salvador when Carla Piette died there about six months earlier, in a flash flood. So I met all those great women. They are people of peace and reconciliation.”
We remember and honor them and hold them close.
On December 2, all the branches of the Maryknoll family in El Salvador gathered in the rural town of Santiago Nonualco to commemorate the lives of four churchwomen—Maryknoll Sisters Maura Clarke and Ita Ford, Ursuline Sister Dorothy Kazel, and Jean Donovan, a lay missioner for the Diocese of Cleveland—on the 35th anniversary of their martyrdom. All Maryknollers and the people of El Salvador, and many beyond share the inspiration these women offer.
David Stocker* – NSFA Staff Editor
Just back from a week in Georgia, I went to Columbus to attend the annual School of the Americas (SOA) protest and to meet the remarkable and controversial Roy Bourgeois, former Maryknoll priest and founder of the SOA Watch. As a priest, Bourgeois was an outspoken critic of US policy in Latin America. Subsequent to the murder of four American churchwomen, two of whom were Maryknoll Sisters, by SOA-trained assassins, Bourgeois founded SOA Watch and has maintained a 26-year tradition of civil disobedience and protest, including documentation of atrocities in Latin America linked to SOA training programs.
Pamela Cibik – “We must secure the border.” Is this not the refrain we so often hear when US politicians are asked to comment on immigration? Pam Cibik, Kathy Ress, and Gerry Mullaney—Northeast Ohio Maryknoll Affiliates—travelled to Douglas, Arizona, in late April to see the border. It is indeed secure, thanks to huge sums our government is spending on miles of “Keep Out” fencing, surveillance cameras, ground sensors, and the ubiquitous US Border Patrol presence. Our gracious hosts, the School Sisters of Notre Dame, gave us a view of this “border security.”
San Diego Affiliates used a meeting early in 2015 to ask themselves, “What drew you to become a part of this group?” and “What keeps you coming back?” Their answers, which member Michele Dunne summarized, were very revealing. Personal invitation and a personal connection to someone in the chapter drew them in, and Spirituality and Community (two of the Affiliates’ Four Pillars) keep them coming back.
Santa Orlando – Albany, NY, Chapter
As an Affiliate, I have had numerous opportunities to spend time with Maryknoll Fathers, Brothers, Sisters, and many other Affiliates. I have been to the Knoll for conferences, celebrations, and Institute classes and just to visit friends. What was missing in my Maryknoll exposure was contact with the Maryknoll Lay Missioners. I found myself asking, who are they, and what do they do? The desire to know led me to join 14 other travelers for a FAB (Friends Across the Border) trip to Bolivia. I met up with them at the Miami Airport, equipped with my carry-on luggage, a positive attitude, and the willingness to participate fully in the experience.
The free flow of global capital and the restriction of migrants desperate to escape violence is a paradox for today. It is impossible to understand the tragedy of poverty, corruption, and violence in Latin America without placing in context the systems of economic extraction and oppression that have gripped the region for five centuries. Knowing our own part in the history of empire, we can begin to discern critical connections, for example, between wildly gyrating global financial markets and millions of refugees in Europe; between the US War on Drugs and the disappearance of 43 students in Ayotzinapa-Mexico; between US rapprochement with Cuba and the immense US military build up in Colombia.
The October 2015 Board meeting completed Ann Carr’s final year as chair of the Maryknoll Affiliate Board. At a reception that weekend, Board members and many other Maryknoll missioners expressed gratitude for her dedicated service.
Below are statements drawn from a collection of tributes to Ann that were presented to her that evening. If you would like to add your remembrances of Ann not only during her tenure as Board president, but from any time in her life as a missioner, please feel free to post them on our Maryknoll Affiliates Facebook page.
Ann’s dedication to the Affiliates has kept us going, on track, and growing. I can only imagine the amount of time she has spent in thorough, thoughtful and respectful emails, phone calls, and meetings, late into the night.—Mary Ryan-Hotchkiss