Translated and condensed from No Tan Lejos del Horizonte Special Edition, November 2016.
On November 3, 2016, Claudia Samayoa, a Maryknoll Affiliate of the Guatemala Chapter, received the Myrna Mack Chang Order from Human Rights Ombudsman Jorge De León Duque on November 3, 2016. He established the Order in 2014 to honor Myrna Mack Chang, a Guatemalan anthropologist murdered by Guatemalan military forces for her investigative work and commitment to the population displaced by the Internal Armed Conflict in Guatemala.
Recognizing Claudia as an activist who raises her voice to defend the human rights of Guatemalans, Duque praised Claudia’s concern for her fellow man and her placing her academic training at the service of the cause of human rights. He said, “Today is an auspicious day to deliver this recognition because attacks on human rights defenders have increased. And today there is also an inappropriate use of criminal law to imprison defenders. Being a human rights advocate is a high-risk job.”
Human rights have always been part of my being. I had a problem with the dogma that only Christians are saved; If God created us all equal in dignity, we should all be recognized as equal and respected. I did not accept the terrible reality in which I grew up: the exiles of my parents’ friends, the murders of doctors known to my father, images of massacres collected in Amnesty International magazines and surreptitiously shared with my father by the priest of Chimaltenango.
Nonviolence is the theme of Pope Francis’s Peace Message.
Pope Francis recognized the 50th annual World Peace Day, January 1, by sending us the first Catholic document on nonviolence, entitled: Nonviolence: a Style of Politics for Peace.
Francis’s concise and readable seven-page message has sections on:
Find Pope Francis’s document on nonviolence at Vatican.va or with additional resources at usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/war-and-peace/world-day-of-peace.cfm .
More than 120,000 people of Japanese descent were infamously rounded up and sent to Internment Centers in various western states, by Executive Order from the President, February 19, 1942, 75 years ago.
Immediately after Pearl Harbor, Seattle’s Japanese community found a staunch supporter in Bishop Gerald Shaughnessy. In a pastoral letter read in every church in the diocese on December 14, 1941, the bishop called for a whole-hearted support of the war effort—and of people of Japanese descent: “Our Catholic heritage especially inculcates upon us in these momentous hours that we embrace our fellow American citizens of Japanese extraction in a special bond of charity.” (See www.stjames-cathedral.org/history/holythings/18maryknoll.aspx )
Marie Wren, of The San Francisco /North Bay Chapter, shared that in past years their chapter has organized presentations at the parish where they meet. These included a three-part series on Catholic social teaching, and a “Meet Maryknoll” evening. Other parishes in the diocese and schools and colleges were invited.
For 2017, the chapter members are educating themselves regarding immigration and refugees, and they are planning an evening presentation on these topics with the hope that the parish may sponsor a refugee family.
The Maryknoll Affiliate Board has been investigating and has approved having virtual chapters. Some Affiliates, like Kris Neufeld (see her article, "Table Talk,"), have moved away from their original chapter and have not found a similar community in their new homes. Other folks, strong Maryknoll and social justice supporters, may not have a chapter in their geographic area. Virtual chapters could help unite them to each other and to other Affiliate Chapters.
Since the first virtual chapter attempts will be considered pilot projects, there is still a great deal of flexibility. Contact Bob Short at rshort@maryknollaffiliates if you have ideas, want to be involved, or to get more information.
One of my favorite books is Kitchen Table Wisdom, by Rachel Naomi Remen, a medical doctor who, as she puts it, listens to people’s stories. She writes, “Everybody is a story. When I was a child, people sat around kitchen tables and told their stories. We don’t do that so much anymore. Sitting around the table telling stories is not just a way of passing time. It is the way the wisdom gets passed along. The stuff that helps us to live a life worth remembering… Real stories take time. We stopped telling stories when we started to lose that sort of time, pausing time, reflecting time, wondering time.”
I am now in a new life phase. In the last three years, I have moved that many times, including a frustrating eight months in a furnished house which was intended to be a 2-3-month stop between selling my house and moving back to Minnesota. I sat on furniture and slept in a bed that weren’t mine, surrounded by cardboard boxes that contained the familiar things of my past life. What had been intended as a short-term fix turned into an isolating, frustrating year.
Now I live in what will likely be my last home—a small rental cottage in a senior community in Rochester, NY. It is a city where I know a few people and where I hope to be able to pay the rent if I happen to live as long as my ancestors. However, it is an additional two hours away from old friends in the New Jersey Affiliate Chapter, whom I have tried to see once a year for the last 15 years, and six to seven hours away from happenings at Maryknoll.
So, in many ways it feels like my “telling-stories-time” is on the back burner, but not because I don’t have the “pausing time, the reflecting time, the wondering time” of which Remen writes. The task now is to seek like-minded people who are willing to sit around kitchen tables to tell me their stories and to listen to mine.
It is difficult, as one grows older, to make new relationships, and yet it is necessary, given the steady loss and erosion of long-time friends whose stories I knew so well and whose lives had intersected with mine for so many years.
These are some of my musings when I read in NSFA that Affiliates have been discussing a book they have read in common. I must confess this doesn’t hold much appeal for me. A virtual community, however, could be another matter—a sharing with others of my clumsy attempts to integrate into a new space and a new and confusing city, and of my attempts to be of service to others in a new way. I might like to tell them about my four Syrian women refugees who speak only enough English to respond to “What is your name?” (How I hope, someday, to listen to their stories!) And I’d like to hear others’ stories about how they continue to find ways to feel, and be, relevant—not just as a person but particularly as an older Affiliate.
In Seattle, Fr. Tom Marti, MM, and Anna Clarke Johnson,
Team Leader for the Western Region,
Maryknoll US Mission Education
Connections. The Seattle Chapter makes a point of maintaining contacts with missioners in the field and contributing to mission efforts. Ralph Maughan (Western Region Co-coordinator) will be connecting with Br. Tim Raible, MM, and Br. John Beeching, MM, in Bangkok, Thailand, in early 2017. For many years, Br. Tim was assigned to mission promotion from the Seattle Maryknoll House, where the Seattle Chapter meets.
On their way to visit family, Affiliate Board Chair David Schaffner and his wife, NSFA co-editor Paula, enjoyed a newsy lunch with California Regional Coordinators Hugh and Jean Menton and other Los Angeles Chapter Affiliates. Kathee Bautista is working on a human trafficking project, and Richard Perez talked of his long-time ties to Maryknoll.
The Sierra Club has revived its midwinter, midnight walk among the homeless of Skid Row, and many LA Chapter members plan to join them. As a new member of the Los Angeles Chapter, Jean Minton had written about the walk in the March/April 2013 NSFA article, “LA – Sierra Club Skid Row Walk,” p. 5.
September 18, 2016—I know it’s a cliché title, but that is exactly what I have been doing since Jet and I returned to the Philippines four years ago in October.
Soon after we arrived, I began working with MAGI (Managing Alternatives Group, Incorporated—managingalternatives.org). This NGO provides services to other NGOs around organizational management, assessments, evaluations, etc. I worked with partners in the Philippines of the German donor organization MISEREOR to help them determine what difference their projects were making in the lives of the people with whom they worked. What changes did they observe?
Come to MAC2017 in Guatemala in November 2017 to experience ¡Buen Vivir!—to live fully.
Information on how to register for MAC2017, travel grant opportunities, optional mission visits, etc., will be in upcoming NSFA issues.
In a recent No Tan Lejos del Horizonte, Latin-American Maryknollers say*:
Participants told the Book Group Committee that the first Affiliate Book Group was a very positive experience for just about everyone, even if the book—Making All Things New by Ilia Delio—was often challenging. We’re looking forward to the second Maryknoll Affiliate Book Group, which begins in January.
You are invited to join the next session, where you may indicate your preferred book and your best meeting time.
This is a brief report, but I want to keep in touch and let other Affiliates know what we are doing.
We met on October 15, 2016, at the Maryknoll Sisters’ apartment in Seoul. Thirteen of us gathered, including two visiting guests who are Sisters of the Congregation of Jesus and Theresa Jung, who is asking to become an Affiliate. We all warmly welcomed her.
At the meeting, Maryknoll Sister Hyung-Jung Kim spoke to us about her mission in East Timor. Also, Maryknoll Sister Jean Maloney reported on her recent trip to the US. As usual, all the Affiliates shared the events of their lives during the past month, and a number spoke of gratitude for their families and for the Affiliate meeting itself, which is such a support. Also one member is preparing to make a trip to the Holy Land.
The Chapter requests prayers for the wife of one of the Affiliates who is receiving treatment for cancer. Her name is Theresa.
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.”