Articles (342)

Tuesday, 20 August 2019 04:51

A Visit with Albany Affiliates

Written by

Mary Moritz – Southeast Regional Coordinator

John Moritz is welcomed by Denise and Rich Lessard.

In May, my husband, John, and I were blessed to spend a few days at the home of Rich and Denise Lessard in Albany, New York.  Rich and Denise invited some of the members of their Albany Affiliate Chapter to meet with us one evening.  You may remember the Albany Chapter as the energetic sponsors of the 2014 Maryknoll Affiliate Conference.

During a wonderful supper prepared by Denise, and spurred on by John Moritz, we had a lively discussion about symbols.  John had recently given a meditation on symbols at the Affiliate Board Meeting and they were still on his mind. 

As the leader of the Northeast Florida Chapter, I enjoyed comparing notes with Chris Minnear, the co-leader of the Albany Chapter.  We noted some differences between our groups.  They have a large chapter of 30+ people and we are very happy if eight can make it to a meeting.

John chats with Frank Hegener.

Despite the size difference, a lot of the challenges are the same.  We both hope to have Chapter meetings where people can be revitalized and helped to grow.  Albany often reads a book together and reviews it at a meeting.  Northeast Florida has never read a book together; but our most avid reader, John Moritz, reports at each meeting about the newest Orbis-published books and we have an active lending library.

John and I thoroughly enjoyed both the hospitality of the Lessards and meeting Albany Affiliates.  It is good to know that one of the new initiatives of the Affiliate Board is developing a database that will inform us about where there are Affiliates who are happy to host or otherwise connect not only with Maryknollers but also with other Affiliates.  I applaud this initiative and am eager to see it developed.

I know our Northeast Florida Chapter will try hard to extend Maryknoll hospitality to any of you who come our way! 

Tuesday, 20 August 2019 04:43

Border Actions to Consider…

Written by

Vicki Simon – Returned Maryknoll Lay Missioner

Participate in a border immersion experience: Learn about life at the Border in a 4-5 day immersion experience.

  • The Encuentro Project, a Jesuit sponsored immersion program in El Paso/Juarez, considers groups of 12-15. Contact Fr. Rafael Garcia, SJ (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), for more information and your group’s interest and needs.
  • The Loretto Community’s Latin American and Caribbean Committee ( coordinates a Border experience trip each year out of Tucson, AZ, to Nogales.

There are many other such programs offered throughout the US.

Volunteers: Volunteers who can stay two weeks or longer are needed. Spanish is helpful, but many jobs do not require Spanish. If you decide to apply, go in good health and well-rested as the days are intense and long. Log on to Annunciation House of Hospitality ( for up-to-date information, the application process, and forms.

Financial donations: Financial donations are needed urgently, rather than specific items, so they can buy exactly what they need, responding to the changing needs of our guests. Make donations payable to Annunciation House and mail to 815 Myrtle Avenue, El Paso, TX 79901,  or donate via their website.

Local opportunities: If you cannot travel or volunteer at this time, get involved locally in organizations working with recently arrived refugees and migrants.

Write and contact: Send letters to your state representatives. Send letters and post on social media, sharing what you know about Immigration matters and current anti-immigration bills.

David Schaffner—California Central Coast Chapter

Our chapter has organized a “Shoelace Project” for the months of June and July in St. Patrick’s Parish, Arroyo Grande. The idea for this campaign came from an NSFA article, “Compassion and Hospitality on the Border,” (March/April 2019). In this article, Jerrie Drinkwine mentioned that the detention center removes shoelaces and belts from asylum seekers as they are processed by ICE. When they are delivered to a respite center, they receive replacement shoelaces. Thus, the Humanitarian Respite Center operated by Catholic Charities in McAllen, Texas, and similar facilities along the border, need a constant supply of shoelaces.

Saturday, 29 June 2019 16:17

Maryknoll Nuns at the Border

Written by

Mary and Manny Hotchkiss – Portland Chapter

Maryknollers, including Affiliates, have been attending to the needs of migrants at the US-Mexico border. (Affiliates have written about helping at McAllen, TX, and on page 8, Don Gonzalez tells about El Paso.) Sr. Lil Mattingly, MM, responded graciously to our email when we arrived in El Paso in April. She arranged for us to meet the Maryknoll sisters working at the US Border near El Paso and hear their stories. Sr. Lil and Sr. Maggie Sierra are both working with immigrants in El Paso. Sr. Susan Nchubiri, MM, who is based at Maryknoll, NY, is working with them for a month responding to the massive increase in refugees from Central and South America.

Saturday, 29 June 2019 16:09

At the El Paso Migrant Refuge

Written by

Don Gonzalez – Hawaii Chapter

Last November I volunteered at the refugee center located within the grounds of the Diocese of El Paso. It is a good-sized room with its own kitchen and eating facility. The bishop of El Paso and seminarians reside nearby, and most volunteers stay in the seminarians’ sleeping quarters, where they are comfortable and have a regular bed unless there is a lack of space; then volunteers might sleep on a cot.

Volunteers learn how to perform a number of functions, then do what is requested as needed.

Thursday, 27 June 2019 18:44

Maryknoll Lay Missioner/Lawyer

Written by

Mary Ryan-Hotchkiss – Portland Chapter

On our annual road trip, I met briefly with Heidi Cerneka, a Maryknoll Lay Missioner, in El Paso.

Heidi said she was inspired to join the Lay Missioners while she was still in college and heard about the church women being martyred in El Salvador. Rather than being frightened, their dedication excited her. As a Lay Missioner, Heidi worked many years in Brazil with women in prisons, but at 50 years of age she decided to go to law school. Now she works for a nonprofit, Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center in El Paso, as an immigration lawyer. Most of her work involves asylum cases. In this part of Texas only about 3% of asylum applicants are successful. She said that in other jurisdictions, e.g., parts of New York or Portland, Oregon, about 50% of asylum applicants are eventually granted asylum.

The Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy center needs volunteers and interns. Besides the obvious need for workers with legal expertise, Heidi specifically mentioned that social workers or counselors could interview clients. The organization’s website——includes two pages requesting interns and volunteers and listing needs.

I asked Heidi her message for Affiliates. She emphasized, “Walls and detention centers are not the answer. Central America needs to be a place where people can stay if they want, with job opportunities, fair wages, and security. The US needs to be a place where people can come with fair immigration policies. … All the people that leave the government’s detention centers are now documented; they’re not undocumented or illegal!”


Thursday, 27 June 2019 04:52

Wishing for More Excitement?

Written by

A little preparation can lead to a lively meeting.

In preparation for a chapter meeting just before Earth Day, Matt Rousso, New Orleans Chapter contact person, sent two questions to the members  of the Gulf South New Orleans Area Chapter:

  • What is one thing you do to combat Climate Change?
  • What is something you could do that challenges you?

Since they’d been discussing and studying Laudato Si and Care for Creation, these questions resonated with the members. Sixteen people attended the meeting and everyone had something to say.


Thursday, 27 June 2019 04:41

Boston Affiliate Working with Rotary

Written by

Jim Comes – Boston Chapter

Left to right: A Rotary colleague, the HELP technician, and Jim Comes present the Guatemalan family their new stove. 

I recently had the opportunity to work with a local Rotary Club to install wood-burning stoves in two villages on the shores of Lake Atitlan, Guatemala. 
My local Rotary Club in Westborough, Massachusetts, and Rotary clubs in Guatemala City and Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, received a grant from Rotary International to install the stoves.

I worked with another Rotarian from Massachusetts and a local technician from HELP International.  HELP identified 100 families and provided the basic parts needed to install a stove.  Each family agreed to not sell the stove and to purchase eleven cinder blocks which would act as the base for the stove. (Google “Onil stoves Guatemala” to see the stoves.)

The goal of the project was to change the practice of cooking with open fires on the floor, eliminating exposure to smoke and reducing health issues.  Mayan families traditionally cook with open fires on the floor in rooms with little or no ventilation. Several health problems are associated with smoke exposure: acute respiratory disease, chronic bronchitis, asthma, tuberculosis, lung cancer, cardiovascular disease, and others.

With continued support from the grant, local health clinics will be monitored for health issues related to smoke exposure, and some families will be visited to measure air quality in the room where the stove was installed.

In four days, our group of ten Rotarians installed 100 stoves in homes and one larger wood-burning stove in a school. The Mayan families receiving the stoves are very poor—they live in two or three rooms and have none of the basic conveniences we take for granted. The taxi driver who drove us around to different houses told me he makes five dollars a day. In addition to reducing the Mayan family’s exposure to smoke, the stoves burn wood more efficiently, saving trees and money. The families were overjoyed to have the stoves, which will enable them to spend less for wood and hopefully more on food.

Thursday, 27 June 2019 04:29

Meeting Maryknoll in St. Louis

Written by

Mary and Manny Hotchkiss – Portland Chapter

Left to right: Manny Hotchkiss and Mary Ryan-Hotchkiss join Patty
Hinton, Debbie Perotta, and Vicki Simon at lunch to learn more
about Midwestern Maryknoll actifiities.

Patty Hinton, Vicki Simon, and the Hotchkisses talked about their connections to Maryknoll over lunch in May. The Hotchkisses were passing through Missouri on their way home to Portland, Oregon, from an Affiliate Board meeting at Maryknoll, NY. Patty Hinton is the Regional Coordinator for the large Midwest region that includes Missouri, Minnesota, Illinois, Ohio, and other nearby states where there currently are no Affiliate chapters. She arranged for Vicki Simon to join us.

Vicki Simon is a returned Maryknoll Lay Missioner who served in Kenya. Since returning, Vicki is on the Maryknoll Lay Missioners’ Board and has served in various Jesuit-related roles in the St. Louis area. She commented that the JustFaith program had been active for over 12 years at St. Francis Xavier “College” parish, St. Louis. Racism and white privilege are discussed in many area churches. She recently volunteered at a migrant refuge affiliated with the El Paso Annunciation House of Hospitality. Having studied Latin American culture and taught Spanish for nine years, she said, “I felt called to do something!” She plans to work at the border again in August.

Thursday, 27 June 2019 03:50

Staying Connected

Written by

Santa Orlando – Albany Chapter

One of the most important things we can do as Affiliates is to stay connected—to our local communities, to Maryknoll Sisters, Fathers, Brothers, Lay Missioners and to other Affiliate chapters. It is through these connections that we experience the charism of Maryknoll. Proximity to Maryknoll in Ossining, New York, has allowed many of the Albany chapter members to form ongoing relationships with Maryknollers who reside there, but proximity is only one aspect of forming relationships.

At our May chapter meeting, the Albany Chapter Skyped with the Guatemala Chapter. This had been previously arranged via a series of emails to coordinate a common meeting time. Both groups were looking forward to this meeting to reconnect with Affiliates we had met at MAC 2017 or at other times. Laughter was shared together as we adjusted the cameras to focus on the Affiliates, not on the ceiling! We prayed together and wished the Guatemala Chapter a Happy 10th  Anniversary by providing them with a cake and candles—which we enjoyed for them. We briefly shared what our chapters do throughout the year, acknowledging differences and commonalities. It was a joyful meeting and we plan on continuing this practice in the future.

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