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*:
Hearing other Affiliate Chapters share...
What is a Maryknoll Affiliate?
Being an Affiliate member...
I got to thinking about talking points for the questions,
• Why I should be a Maryknoll Affiliate?
• Why I should form an Affiliate Chapter?”
I asked my Chapter in North Texas (Dallas/Fort Worth area), and they came up with the following talking points.
At a Friends of Sabeel (FOSNA.org) Leadership Conference this July in Portland, Oregon, we were happy to see that Sabeel, the voice of the Palestinian Christians, intersects with Maryknoll. Naim Ateek, an Episcopal priest from Nazareth, founded the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center in Jerusalem over 25 years ago. Orbis has published several of his books: Faith and the Intifada: Palestinian Christian Voices was published in 1992; Justice and Only Justice, and A Palestinian Christian Cry For Reconciliation discuss liberation theology as it pertains to Israel’s occupation of Palestine.
Participants in the first Maryknoll Affiliate Book Group session this summer replied to a survey sent by Executive Coordinator Bob Short, giving feedback about their positive experiences and making some suggestions. Some participants would prefer being in a smaller group or meeting at another time. Smaller groups could allow more time choices.
Gabriella Maertens wrote: “I wondered how a book club by phone could work. I agreed before I received the book and then I wondered how we could discuss such a difficult book—Making All Things New. But I have been really happy with the group discussions that have taken place and impressed with the insights of our group. I look forward to “seeing” everyone each week.”
As a Maryknoll Lay Missioner, Bertha Haas founded the Huruma School for children with disabilities in Mwanza, Tanzania in 2004. Now, in her retirement, she spends about a month each year at the school, reconnecting with the teachers and children, working with the Tanzanian Board that oversees the school, seeing the progress, and dreaming with them about the future.
To welcome Bertha home, the Portland Maryknoll Affiliate Chapter hosted a fund-raiser party complete with an African music group. Supporting the Huruma School is an important outreach for the chapter.
Stored Value Cards, Inc., doing business as Numi Financial, targets county jails. In an August 2016 article, Arun Gupta noted that Numi contracts with counties to provide debit cards to return inmates’ money upon their release. (https://www.thenation.com/article/the-financial-firm-that-cornered-the-market-on-jails/)
In 2013, over 11 million people were released from county jails, making it a preferred market. The problem is that over 80 percent of the Numi debit cards end up paying onerous fees. The article states, “The terms for the card used in Multnomah County (Oregon) lists 11 possible fees—the $5.95 monthly fee, a $2.95 fee for ATM withdrawals, $0.95 for a declined transaction, $1 to check the balance, and $9.95 to have the balance refunded by check.”
An estimated 30 percent of the debit cards holding released prisoners’ own money are never used and are completely consumed by the fees. Inmates who may be deported by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) suffer additional problems with the cards due to English-only written directions and customer service and higher international fees. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Electronic Funds Transfer Act do not cover this type of cards.
Numi Financial and similar companies should also be targeted by campaigns against for-profit prisons and the exploitive jail telephone systems.
An Appeal to the Catholic Church to Re-Commit to the Centrality of Gospel Nonviolence
The May–June 2016 issue of NewsNotes from the Maryknoll Office of Global Concerns (MOGC) contains the full statement affirmed by participants at the Nonviolence and Just Peace conference held in Rome, April 11-13, 2016. Working and planning for many months beforehand, Pax Christi International, the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, UISG/USG, and many other international Catholic organizations, including MOGC, co-convened the landmark conference on nonviolence and just peace in the Catholic tradition.
Maryknoll Sister Teresa Hougnon represented the Maryknoll Sisters’ African peace-building team. Her reflection on the conference, “Nonviolence and Just Peace: The way of Jesus,”* also appears in NewsNotes.
Nonviolence and Just Peace, a new global initiative launched at the conference, reaffirms the centrality of active nonviolence to the vision and message of Jesus, to the life of the Catholic Church, and to the long-term vocation of healing and reconciling both people and the planet.
The web site https://nonviolencejustpeace.net/ gives further background and notes that the conference’s final statement calls on the Church to:
*The statement is also available online at http://www.paxchristi.net/document/5856.
The statement—“An Appeal to Christians in the United States”—reflects a growing alarm that our country is entering a very dangerous period in which some political leaders and some media are directly challenging our most fundamental Christian convictions. The statement is consequently a theological affirmation. We hope that you will read the statement carefully and join those who have already signed their names.* The full text is available at goo.gl/rqcO1Q.
An Appeal to Christians in the United States
Because of fear we too easily caricature or condemn those who are different from us. Politicians and too many in the media stereotype African Americans, Asian Americans, people from Hispanic background, and followers of Islam. If we follow their lead, we slander our neighbors and blaspheme against the one God of all peoples. We resist such stereotypes and pledge to work for laws and practices that honor the dignity of all people.
We …... pledge that we will seek to limit the proliferation of guns in the U.S.
We ……pledge to be advocates for laws that regulate in a just and orderly manner the flow of refugees and immigrants.
We …... pledge to work for systems of security that guard human dignity and protect the vulnerable as well as the strong.
Let us help shape the character of our much loved land not by an abandonment of our most cherished Christian convictions but by following the counsel of the Prophet Micah--to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with our God.