The Way & Maryknoll
Carol-Ann Black – NE Florida Chapter
A “mission trip” to a neighboring county? Northeast Florida Maryknoll Affiliates would say, “Yes, indeed.” On August 14, with no suitcases, no passports, we boarded our transports and headed from Jacksonville, FL, to Green Cove Springs, FL, perhaps an hour’s drive. Once there, we visited The Way, Free Medical Clinic. The Way embodies the meaning of mission. Here the uninsured, indigent, and undocumented can receive high quality medical care, for many, for the first time in years.
We recently received this story from Maryknoll Lay Missioner Curt Klueg in Kenya and were inspired by Curt’s creative use of appropriate technology to address poverty and assist with education.
Curt writes about Peter and Cynthia, students in the HOPE project, whose family of four (one mom and three children) live in a very simple 10x10’ room with one bed, no electricity, and no running water. In the evenings, the children have studies to complete and, like many Christian families in Kenya, they tend to spend some time every evening reading scripture and singing hymns together.
Ron Covey – Houston Chapter
Since the death of Father Thomas Goekler, MM, in 2010, Caminando Por La Paz – Guatemala has been run by Maryknoll Affiliates, guided by the Affiliate Four Pillars. We believe that this is the only mission program originally established by Maryknoll Fathers, Brothers, or Sisters that is now run by Affiliates.
In the April/May, 2011, Not So Far Afield, we described our efforts to continue Father Thomas’ work. We constantly try to improve the program and to foster positive change in this small corner of the world—Paraiso II, Zone 18, one of the most marginalized, impoverished, violent zones in Guatemala City.
Education. Lack of education in the general population is one of the major problems in Guatemala; it leads to persistent poverty and violence and is undoubtedly connected to the US’s immigration issues. Although Guatemala does provide public education, students pay for books, school supplies, uniforms, etc. For the poor in society, those with a third grade education are considered fortunate. For these reasons, education is our primary focus.
We currently tutor 23 students who are still in school, plus another 25-30 others. Thanks to a grant we received from Cross Catholic International, we have been able to expand this program, not only providing educational materials, but also offering nutritious food prior to tutoring sessions. The latter has greatly improved our attendance rates. Our children now show up early, with their plates, and of course, better food makes for more focus and readiness to learn.
Spirituality. We now offer a weekly holy hour, held on Friday afternoons and led by a nun from the local parish. We begin it with a prayer or two and perhaps a hymn. The main activity, however, is to read and discuss the scripture readings of the next Sunday’s liturgy. Not only has the number of regular participants increased, but we have been blessed by people of the neighborhood, who, on their own initiative, are now providing light refreshments—perhaps a sign that our efforts to build a sense of self-responsibility are paying off.
During the past year, donors financed our two spiritual pilgrimages. Last December, we took a group of neighbors to Esquipulas, where they could encounter the “Christo Negro,” a black crucifix believed to be the source of many miracles.
In early August, we held our second pilgrimage, this time taking about 25 neighbors over the mountain to Antigua. In the morning we visited music and coffee museums, both tourist attractions. On this trip, we treated participants to lunch on a friend’s patio. In the afternoon, Edwin Bejarano spoke about the life of Hermano Pedro, a local saint who was canonized on July 30, 2002 by Pope John Paul II. After his lecture, Bejarano took us on a walk through the city, visiting various places that had been important in the life of Hermano Pedro.
Other Projects. We remodeled a neighborhood volunteer’s home—a small, single-room house with leaking roof and dirt floor. A key member of a growing group of neighborhood volunteers, she is a single mother with four children. Although the changes we made would not be considered much of an improvement in the US, we were able to divide the space into a small kitchen and separate living area. (We have been blessed as well, because she is one of the cooks who prepare the food we provide during tutoring sessions.)
Our second project was to improve a local soccer field, smoothing out the terrain and providing some shelter over the bleachers. We also painted the seating area and goal posts.
Lastly, after several years of planning and development, our third project is coming to fruition. We are now exporting coffee to the US. We have two goals: 1) to use the major portion of our earnings to continue our education efforts, and 2) to improve the lives of the coffee growers, who, after years of being paid poorly, can finally realize a more just wage. They plan to use the funds to improve their farming methods and, consequently, the quality of the coffee.
Dan Driscoll-Shaw – Chicago Central Chapter
Maryknollers are experienced in immersing ourselves in another culture. Our Chicago Central Chapter recently helped seven Chinese priests and sisters immerse themselves in the best of our American culture, at least for a day. The Sunday before Thanksgiving, we invited them to share in our traditional Thanksgiving feast.
The Oceana Gold mining company, owner of the El Dorado mine, uses its deep pockets to influence politicians, coerce support in communities desperate for funds, and intimidate opponents. A decision on the legal future of the mine is now with the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), a World Bank “court” in Washington, DC, far away from anyone who lives in the threatened areas of El Salvador.
Translated from “Hay miles de Esterellas en Bolivia,” which appeared in the October 2014 issue of No Tan Lejos del Horizonte.
Estrella (Spanish for Star) is a girl in the Educational Support Program of the Parish of Our Lady of La Salette in Cochabamba, Bolivia. She’s probably not one of the best students in her school. Sometimes it’s hard to motivate her when she has a task. One day in particular, she had to work on a project for Mother’s Day. As she made no progress, I tried to help her think with a question. “How are moms?” I asked. “Bad,” she said. I thought she was joking with her answer. So I told her to continue working and I would return later.
Catherine (Kitty) Madden – Affiliate
In Nicaragua’s Northern Highlands, since Casa Materna began in 1990, Maryknoll has been present through the Sisters, Fathers, Lay Missioners and later the Affiliates. This October 31st we celebrated the 24th anniversary of the Casa, and 23 years of service to over 17,000 rural mothers with high-risk pregnancies. To all of the Maryknoll family we give thanks for the many ways in which you have accompanied us, spiritually and financially, during these first 24 years.
Around the world in 18 days! My wife, Denise, and I recently participated in the Maryknoll Lay Missioner’s Friends Across Borders (FAB) program in Cambodia.
”So, how was your trip?”—I find myself entertaining this question in my first weeks home. How do I capture the essence of this Cambodian FAB experience? How do I explain the transformation working inside me? After a chuckle—they don’t realize how loaded the question is—I exclaim, “It was great!” an accurate, though short, response. But if the questioner is interested, I’ll explain that the trip was a mission awareness experience and that we visited with a number of Maryknoll Lay Missioners, Sisters, and Fathers. I’ll highlight some of their various ministries, and provide some context to the plight of the Cambodian people, past and present. Often, I’ll mention my blog of each day’s activities. This response still doesn’t capture the richness of the experience, though.
I thank the Affiliates and our Board for the privilege of representing them at the General Assembly (GA) of the Maryknoll Sisters. 144 voting Sister Delegates came to set their directions and policies and to elect new leadership for the Congregation. Other official but non-voting participants included: Fr. Jack Sullivan – Society, Margaret (Peg) Vamosy – Lay Missioners, and Mary Elizabeth (Mef) Ford –Full Circle.
It is clear that Maryknoll’s role in God’s mission is, like many human endeavors in these times, arriving at a “profound historical turning point.” This phrase was used by Joe Holland in his presentation at the 2012 “Mission in the Future” symposium, held at Maryknoll, NY. The event was prepared by the four Maryknoll entities: the Affiliates, the Lay Missioners, the Fathers and Brothers, and the Maryknoll Sisters.
Two days before the People’s Climate March, I learned that groups were to meet at specific locations, such as religious groups at Columbus Circle. Riding there in a half-filled subway car, I was relieved to immediately see a Maryknoller! I didn’t see many more until the march started, when Beth Begley and I were trying to maintain a curbside seat.
The “biggest climate march in history” left Central Park and headed toward lower Manhattan and the NYC waterfront on 6th Avenue. Crowds watched and cheered us as we went by. It was hard to keep up with the banner-carrying Maryknollers, mostly priests. I saw Affiliates Margaret and Adel, with a group from their parish.
Greater Los Angeles and San Diego Chapter Affiliates became familiar with peace activist Fr. John Dear’s work while preparing to co-sponsor the 2010 Western Regional Affiliate Conference. Since Fr. John was our keynote speaker, both chapters began studying his latest book. He spoke passionately about following the non-violent Jesus and offered us the opportunity to take the vow of non-violence. Many of us continued studying his work and listened to his speeches when he spoke in our area.
You spoke and we hear you!
Thank you, media survey respondents. Looking at the results of the survey, we received some surprises, but in other cases our suspicions were confirmed. We weren’t surprised that most of you use email and that most chapters use email for their communications, but we were surprised that very few of you routinely go to Facebook.