The Maryknoll Affiliate Book Group has been discussing the experiences of immigrants in the US, guided by Miguel De La Torre’s Trails of Hope and Terror. That book emphasizes that Jesus was an undocumented refugee in Egypt and offers Christian responses to the alien.
Now we see people of color detained and arrested as they leave the county court house or go to work. Citizen protesters have been arrested as they block the path of Immigration Control and Enforcement (ICE) vans. Immigrant attendance at church services and classes is down, perhaps due to fear of being in public. Executive orders have rescinded the DACA program that helps young immigrants, Dreamers, legally remain in the US to study or work.
But hopeful signs abound. In October, California, with over 2 million undocumented, enacted a law barring police from asking people about their immigration status or participating in federal immigration enforcement activities. Jail officials will only transfer inmates to federal authorities if they have been convicted of certain crimes. Oregon’s law prevents using state resources to enforce federal laws.
Kathy Gribble, from Fox Cities Chapter, WI, reports that the ESTHER community visited a legislative hearing concerning pending legislation. One bill proposes that all government officials would be permitted (not mandated) to inquire on the immigration status of persons they might encounter in any dealing. This bill would allow targeting and profiling people of color, adding another level of fear as they move in the shadows of the community. The good news is that only one speaker favored the measure and about 25, including the Wisconsin Catholic Conference, eloquently spoke against it.
Nationwide, an estimated 800 churches have declared themselves Sanctuary Churches, although only few are house threatened immigrants. Some groups help Dreamers pay the $465 fee for DACA renewals. Communities have participated in Welcoming Week (welcomingamerica.org) to help newcomers of all backgrounds feel valued and fully participate in the community. Welcoming Week coincides with the Campaign Nonviolence week of actions and with International Day of Peace each September.
Ken Butigan, connected with Pace e Bene (http://www.paceebene.org/), gave a lively and inspiring talk on Campaign Nonviolence. He said violence causes racism, poverty and war. We need to say no to violence and respect our adversary as a loving person in God’s eyes. He uses the acronym CLARA when dealing with conflict:
Learn your feelings about the situation
Articulate your truth
Receive the truth of the other person, and
Accomplish some dialog by acknowledging both parts of the truth.
We then watched a TED talk on nonviolence (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJSehRlU34w), by Erica Cenoweth, in which she said nonviolence has been shown to be more effective in campaigns for change in governments than violence. Civil resistance works.
Rosa Beatriz, the lead person on the Guatemalan Conference Committee planning for MAC 2017, asked a few registrants to respond to two of three questions. Some respondents shared their answers with Executive Coordinator Bob Short. Below are parts of three Affiliates’ responses to one of her questions:
In what ways would I like to see the theme “Buen Vivir” (Living in Harmony with All) become part of the commitment of the Affiliate Movement?
The Maryknoll Office of Global Concerns urges us to pray and contact our government representatives asking for diplomacy with North Korea (http://maryknollogc.org/alerts/us-and-north-korea-call-prayer-and-action).
An additional approach was introduced by Senator Edward Markey (D-Mass) and Representative Ted Lieu (D-CA) “Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017.” H.R.669 would prohibit the first-use of nuclear strike by the United States unless Congress first declares war and expressly authorizes such a strike (https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/669). The bill has 47 co-sponsors but has been referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
When we met with Manny and Mary Ryan-Hotchkiss on our annual visit, Mary asked us to reflect on what we see in Portland and in Oaxaca.
Mary—First, we noted how the mood of the people in general expresses itself. Aside from activists, nobody said much about the political state of affairs in Portland or the US. Black members in our family are as vigilant as they have always been. The police bias toward racism has always been prominent. Having arrived in 1975, we remember when the police left dead possums on the doorstep of a Black restaurant. And the father of one our children’s classmates was killed with a choke hold—he stopped a robbery in a gas station, and the police automatically assumed that because he was a tall Black man, he was the robber. Now however, many people feel permission to spew hatred toward immigrants, people of color, indigenous people, and refugees. The incredibly noticeable gentrification of the neighborhoods made me sad and angry. Maryknoll Affiliate Martha Gies, who has worked in housing in Portland for years, commented that “ethnic cleansing” is taking place—the Black community is moving out to the “numbers,” far out to the east of Portland.
The special talents of these Guatemalans will enrich your conference experience with an understanding of the Mayan culture, uplifting liturgies, and enjoyment of the music created for this gathering.
Daniel Caño is Mayan Q’anjob’al, from the aldea Paykonob’, municipality of Santa Eulalia, Huehuetenango. A Mayan spiritual guide, he was named for Maryknoll Father Daniel Jensen, who was pastor in Santa Eulalia at that time.
His academic studies are in philosophy, pedagogy, and intercultural bilingual education. Daniel is presently a professor of political and social sciences at the Rafael Landivar University in Quetzaltenango and on the faculty of Humanities at the Guatemalan University del Valle in the Altiplano. He has shared his spirituality, life experiences and poetry at a number of universities and organizations in the United States.
Of the Mayan Spirituality, Daniel says “I consider Mayan Spirituality as a way of interrelating myself with my social and cosmic surroundings. I try not to reduce it to rituals but instead to apply it to all spheres of my life.”
Lorenza is an indigenous Maya Quiche woman and a psychologist and elementary school teacher. Her parents immigrated to the capital city of Guatemala because of the political violence and the poverty in the country. In spite of having grown up in an urban environment, her strong Mayan identity is based on the values of equality, social justice, and respect for diversity.
In 2000, Lorenza began reflecting on the Cosmo vision of the Mayan People, in particular the K’iche. She has studied certain elements, principles, and values of the spirituality of her people. She appreciates her origins and has a critical vision of their history as Mayan Peoples.
During this process, she has worked with organizations of indigenous peoples, women’s groups, and international and governmental organizations. Presently, she consults regarding indigenous peoples, women, and HIV, and develops workshops for healing and counseling with indigenous women.
John Spain, MM – Maryknoll Priest
Ordained in 1970, John shared pastoral service with Salvadoran priests and participated in Christian communities. Over forty years ago, he lived through the persecution that claimed the lives of more than ten priests, including our beloved Blessed Oscar Romero and the four American churchwomen in December 1980.
In the 1980s, John served in Nicaragua while it was experiencing US aggression after freeing itself from Somoza. In the 1990s, he returned to San Salvador to accompany the suffering people in their search for reconciliation after the war. In recent years he has spent more time on administrative tasks in Central America, but also sharing with the Affiliates of Guatemala and El Salvador to help pastorally in the parish of Cristo Salvador in Zacamil, El Salvador.
This year he was invited to share the lives of the martyrs of Central America with the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers in Africa.
Helen has been a Maryknoll sister for 79 years, and looks back with gratitude at the journey that brought her to this time in Guatemala. After wonderful years of formation and College education, she spent 10 years in Panama teaching children whose ancestors had worked on the Panama Canal. A call to the contemplative life brought her back to New York, where for 32 years she lived the cloistered life, reaching out to the world through prayer.
Most significant in her life was the invitation to come to Guatemala to be a presence of prayer and accompaniment in the midst of the poor who were still suffering from the effects of violence and massacres. Her life has become prayer in the midst of the world, one with the people.
Both a professional singer and a humanities professor, Miguel specializes in music in middle education and musical theater. A choral director, artistic producer, and dramatist, he is the founding director of Staccato Singers Academy, a school held in high esteem in Guatemala. He has given workshops internationally and is vice president of the Latin American Forum of Music Educators.
Immersed in the world of song since an early age, he has won multiple awards, including gold medal winner in the World Olympics of the Arts (2001) in Los Angeles, California, and the Arcoiris Award for the best youth group (2005).
He has created:
Miguel presently directs the City Choral group of Guatemala City, teaches vocal technique at Staccato Singers Academy, and is General Director of Casa Duarte, a meeting place for companies that work in all branches of the arts.
Juan Pablo teaches musical formation, specializing in practice and choral direction. He studied at University of San Carlos and Normal School for teachers of Music Jesus Maria Alvarado.
As a member of the National Choir of Guatemala (Cultural Patrimony of the Nation), he has been a choir member, tenor soloist, accompanying pianist, and director (from 1992 to the present). Juan has sung with several other choirs, including Colegio San Sebastian (1977-1979), Victoria Choir (1986 – 1990), APG Choir (1988), Symphonic Christmas Choir (1992), and Hilos de Plata Choir (2006).
He has been a member of popular music groups: Christmas Selection, Siglo XX (1992), High Voltage Group (1990 – 1992), The Organization (1993), The Brothers Duarte Groups (1994 – 1997), Select Music Group (1990-2000), among others, with which he has participated in national tours and international festivals (Central America, Cuba, Colombia and Mexico).
Juan Pablo composers and arranges choral works, songs with a message of hope, children’s songs, group arrangements, and chamber music. He interprets varied academic and popular music, singing and accompanying himself on piano or keyboard.
He presently teaches music and directs the youth choir and marimba at Colegio Monte Maria in Guatemala City.
Join the Maryknoll Affiliate Board in envisioning our future.
1. Read through the meeting plan. If you wish to work from the two-page pdf of this Easy Meeting, go to Easy Meeting 2017 09 10 - Visioning the Affiliates.
2. Plan who will read the passages and prayers.
3. Determine who will lead the discussions.
4. Gather markers, a flip chart or large sheets of paper
and tape, and pens and paper for individual use.
Creating scapegoats is something societies do over and over again to keep from addressing real fears and injustices. It never really solves any problem, but just continues the cycle of violence, covering it up with a thin disguise, a lie of legitimacy.
Jesus calls us to expose the lie by witnessing to the truth. What truth, you might ask. Pilate asked the same question, even though Jesus has just given him the answer:
Over 900 actions are planned for the 2017 Campaign Nonviolence, Sept 16 – 24, across the US. Now more than ever, we encourage Affiliate Chapters and Affiliates to participate in one of the actions in your area, listed at http://www.paceebene.org/programs/campaign-nonviolence/campaign-nonviolence-week-of-actions/ or to start your own action to address violence, poverty, racism, and the climate crisis.”
Rich Lessard – Affiliate Board member, Albany Chapter
Early on the morning of May 20th, I set out under sunny skies for my two-hour trek to Ossining, NY, for the ordination of Maryknoll’s two newest priests. My anticipation for the day ahead increases with each mile traveled—this is my first ordination. Then, about five minutes from my destination, raindrops begin to fall on my windshield, mixing with the previous days’ pollen accumulation. “Uh oh,” I think, knowing part of the day’s ceremonies are to be held outdoors. But just a few raindrops fall, stopping right as I arrive. Perhaps it is a sprinkling of holy water on those assembling at Maryknoll to mark the importance of the day ahead!
Jake (whom you may have known as Jane), the oldest child of Roger and Kitty, is in California recovering from surgery to complete his transition to becoming a man. He would probably be surprised to know about this note. We think it would be great if as many people as possible would send him a card of support and good will for his recovery and his future happy life. If you would like to send a card or message of love and encouragement, his address until the end of April is: - - - - - .
We wrote this email to let people know about Jake and to encourage others that change and evolution are constant and good. To let our friends know that we are okay with this change even though we do not fully understand it. There is always good and growth that come from evolving.
Thank you, brother and sister Maryknoll Affiliates, for your support of the people of Peru who recently suffered from terrible natural disasters.
We are very grateful for your strong gestures of solidarity with our brothers and sisters affected by the natural disasters that our country, Peru, suffered a few months ago. We continue to suffer the consequences of the intense rains—landslides and overflowing rivers. Cities and towns were flooded, thousands of people were left isolated, and agricultural and cattle lands were destroyed. These disasters left more than 100 dead, affected 150,000 people directly, and impacted almost one million nationally, according to the Center for Operations of National Emergency, which monitors natural disasters in Peru.
Most of our readers are familiar with Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker Movement, but perhaps not everyone is familiar with Mark and Louise Zwick in Houston, Texas.
They were volunteer missioners in El Salvador in the late 1970s but were forced to leave following death threats related to the civil war at the time. Upon their return to the US, they saw the need to help the refugees from Central America and commented that, “If we had any guts, we’d start a Catholic Worker House.” They founded a house of hospitality under the name of Casa Juan Diego in 1980, and ever since they have dedicated their lives, on a fulltime volunteer basis, to helping the needy.
How is your chapter, your community, responding to immigrants?
Since many immigrants in the US are threatened with deportation, various organizations are offering sanctuary and solidarity:
What can we do? What will we do?
What would Jesus do?