I have been connected with Maryknoll in one form or other since my high school days: first, as a seminarian, then as an ordained missioner in Tanzania. After I left and married my wife, Jane, I continued my connection as an alumnus through the Maryknoll Joint Committee and ultimately in 1992 was part of the founding group of the Maryknoll Affiliate Chapter in Boston. The simple truth is I have always liked the people I find in Maryknoll—they tend to be inquisitive, reflective, positive, and serious about Gospel values, but with a sense of humor. I find these qualities in all the men and women in Maryknoll and throughout all the four entities. I am especially grateful for the way I was treated when I left the Society – namely, with respect and graciousness as well as genuine compassion and practical help. This was not the typical response of religious orders at that time to those leaving the priesthood.
When I was invited to join the Maryknoll Affiliates’ Board, I thought, how can I not? I was confident I would be working with extraordinary people with Gospel values at a unique time in history. So many people, younger and older, are struggling with institutional religion and yet becoming increasingly involved in justice and peace at home and abroad. I have found in the Maryknoll Affiliate movement a very practical and meaningful connection of spirituality, community, global vision, and actions for justice and peace. So why not pay it forward and challenge the present day fishermen of Galilee to: “Come and and see.”
At their April 2018 meeting, our Board will be discussing:
On Saturday of their weekend at Ossining, they will attend the NE Regional Conference.
We are thankful for 2017’s many good memories: chapters hosting Maryknoll missioners, marching for the homeless in Los Angeles, working tirelessly for immigrant rights, and more.
Affiliates also gathered in Guatemala for MAC2017, our triennial international conference. The Capítulo de Afiliados Maryknoll of Guatemala superbly organized our first one held outside the US. The Affiliate Board appreciates their creativity and hard work in bringing a conference to us that will become a highlight of Affiliate history.
The various post-conference mission trips also deserve special mention: three in Guatemala and one in El Salvador, in which I participated. Fr. John Spain, MM, who lived through the years of the Salvadoran Civil War, brought history alive for us. We visited diverse and inspiring mission projects, particularly those of the Lay Missioners, who are led by Peter Altman, MKLM Regional Coordinator for El Salvador.
Looking forward to 2018, we are continuing to ask, “Where do we want to be in five years?” At our combined Board/Regional Coordinator meeting in Guatemala City, we appointed an ad hoc committee—Rich Lessard, Albany; John and Mary Moritz, Northeast Florida; Bob Short, Executive Coordinator; and hopefully one international representative—to develop four topics identified at the Guatemala City meeting: collaboration, identity, international cross-cultural aspects, and models.
At the Fall 2018 Board/RC meeting, we will use these topics to develop initiatives and suggest actions for Affiliates. In the meantime, many chapters have used the September/October NSFA “Easy Meeting” to brainstorm the future direction(s) of the Affiliates. If it hasn’t done so yet, I encourage your chapter to try this process.
Comings and Goings:
Your generosity in responding to our annual appeal keeps our basic operational budget stable but also allows us to pursue special initiatives, such as assisting Board members who could not otherwise afford to travel to Board meetings. Finance Chair Manny Hotchkiss sent out this year’s appeal letter in November. If it’s lost in your holiday mail, perhaps it is not too late to dig it out.
Blessings on your new Affiliate year!
After the 2017 Maryknoll Affiliate Conference in Guatemala, I reconnected with my former mission site and renewed my life energy and hope in mission. I was able to visit San Marcos, a beautiful town in the Western Highland of Guatemala near the Mexican border located about five hours northeast of Guatemala City, at an altitude of about 3000 feet. Another Maryknoll sister and I, as members of the Diocesan Pastoral Team for Women, visited many of the parishes, empowering their women’s teams.
Many women, mostly Mayan, shared their joy at being able to see the bigger world more clearly, as though being led out of the smoke in their kitchens. Besides themes from the Bible, we discussed women’s health, women’s rights, ecological projects, and managing profit-generating handcrafts. Many women shared their struggle to find safe places.
Until a few weeks ago, there were two Affiliate virtual chapters. The first has six members crossing three U.S. time zones and has met three times. The second is a contemplative virtual chapter that focuses on reflective conversation and prayer. Members from both of these chapters have spoken very positively about how meaningful the experiences have been.
On Sunday, October 1st, a third, hybrid Affiliate chapter entered the virtual Maryknoll Affiliate world. Approximately 15 members from three continents and as many countries: Kenya, Germany, and the US—crossing too many time zones to count—held their first meeting. This hybrid virtual chapter evolved from the creative vision and organizational acumen of Gerald Grudzen, PhD, and Marita Grudzen, who have been connected to Maryknoll in several capacities for many years.
Gerry hales from the Northeast Ohio Maryknoll Affiliate Chapter and was part of the original core group that sought recognition as a chapter. After a lengthy application/preparation period, they were recognized in March, 2014. The Northeast Ohio Chapter proudly focuses on the Global Vision pillar with multiple travels and subsequent connections with missioners in Tanzania, Cambodia, and Bolivia. The Northeast Ohio Chapter also goes local with efforts to support a parish hunger program and more recent activity to address the cruelty of US immigration policy.
Gerry became an Affiliate Board member in the spring of 2016. Now working only part-time as a mental health therapist, Gerry has more time to devote to Affiliate matters. He is on the Nominating Committee of the Affiliate Board and says, “Keep those nominations coming!!!” Beyond this, Gerry has a strong interest in furthering the connections between individual Affiliate chapters and missioners in the field. This is consistent with the Northeast Ohio Chapter’s emphasis on Global Vision and with the Maryknoll Affiliate call to “go beyond borders... to walk with the poor and excluded, and to strive for peace and justice for all of God’s creation.”
* Affiliate Board Topic *
Meeting in Guatemala before MAC 2017, the Board will discuss Board, Regional Coordinator, and Affiliate ideas on our 5-Year Vision. Chapters and individuals are encouraged to help develop our 5-Year Vision, possibly using the “ Easy Meeting” in the Sept/Oct 2017 NSFA, and share their thoughts with their regional coordinators.
Rich, a Maryknoll Affiliate in the Albany Chapter since 2006 and a Board member since 2013, loves being in the company of other Affiliates and Maryknollers. His wife Denise and two young adult children, bring him much joy as he adjusts to retirement.
On the Affiliate leadership team, Rich meets regularly with Lay Missioners, Sisters, and Fathers and Brothers to discuss present challenges and to help plan for the future. To advance the Affiliate movement, Rich wants to:
Rich’s personal desire is to be in mission overseas when the opportunity presents itself. For now he looks forward to spending time with Affiliates and other Maryknollers in Guatemala at MAC 2017.
At the May 2017 Maryknoll Affiliate Board Meeting, the Board agreed to a new policy regarding email communication with our members. When the mailing lists are updated, all members will receive both the Monday Morning Update emails and the bimonthly email with the digital Not So Far Afield. Members signed up for the paper version will continue to receive it by mail.
The Nominating Committee of the Affiliate Board—that would be me, Gerry Mullaney—is calling on all Affiliates to consider candidates for the Board and bring them forth for nomination. Don’t be shy. Don’t deny anyone this opportunity. Competition will not be fierce unless we are inundated with nominations.
Board membership involves a 3-year term (with renewal possible for another 3 years), two Board meetings per year along with conference calls, and application of leadership, wisdom, and creativity for policy development and decision-making. We occasionally have some fun as well. It is certainly a joy to come together with good people to form the Affiliate leadership that supports and encourages our world wide membership to advance Jesus’ mission in the world.
Hello, everyone! I know that I have met at least two or three hundred of you over the past 20 some years at the international Affiliate Conferences in New York, at the Regional Conferences (Seattle, San Francisco, Portland, Albuquerque, Las Vegas, New Orleans) or just traveling across the good old USA, visiting Affiliate Chapters along the way. Do I remember all your names? Probably not, but I usually will recognize your smile, and sometimes that will pop your name out to me as well. In all the years I’ve been an Affiliate, I have loved meeting you, talking with you, eating with you, and especially praying with you.
As I report on the state of Affiliate finances, I must mention your generous response to our recent appeal for Peruvian Flood Relief. In a short time, over $5,500 was contributed—thank you for your abundant generosity in support of our Peruvian Affiliate sisters and brothers who were caught up in this natural disaster of unimaginable proportions. You helped fund a team that has travelled to the Department of Ancash to assist where much of the devastation occurred.
Here at home, our Affiliate appeal year runs from November 1 to October 31. We are responsible for our operating budget: travel, computer/technology, and office expenses. In recent years we have made or exceeded our fund raising goals, and that has allowed us to provide travel grants to Affiliates from around the world to attend MAC2017, to be hosted by the Guatemala chapter this November.
At this time, about half way into our appeal, we have received $10,000 toward our $22,000 budget goal. This is somewhat less than where we have been in recent years at this time. While I am confident that by November we will have met goal, at the same time it is important for all of us who have not already contributed what we are able to offer, to put the Affiliate appeal on our “to-do” list.
Thank you for your past and future support. Having served since 2009, this is my last report to you as Finance Committee Chair. Long-time Affiliate Manny Hotchkiss, Portland Chapter, is joining the board at our spring meeting and will assume Finance Committee Chair responsibilities. We welcome Manny and thank him for joining us.
About every other edition, the co-editors of NSFA ask me (I kiddingly claim with some arm-twisting going on) to consider writing an article. Sometimes they suggest a theme and provide leading questions to do so. Here are the fluffy-soft questions they came up with this time: What signs of hope do you see among us? How have we been connecting with the rest of Maryknoll? What is our biggest challenge? All any of us would need to effectively address these questions is a lifetime plus a few more weeks. Of course, these are very worthy questions for where we find ourselves today. With that in mind, and with unawareness of my limitations, some thought on those questions follows.
Maryknoll Affiliate Board
Meets May 5-7, 2017, at Maryknoll
MAC 2017 in Guatemala is uppermost in the Board’s thoughts this spring, but they will also be discussing reports and plans of the three committees formed in response to the 2015 Affiliate Survey: Communication, Connection, and Sustainability/Growth. The consideration of new chapters and of virtual chapters is also on the agenda.
So that the Regional Coordinators (RCs) can focus their travel time and expenses on MAC 2017 in Guatemala, they will be “virtually” included in this Board meeting via Skype. One area the RCs will review with the Board is how RCs are selected and how long they should serve.
Driving into the Hudson Valley for our October board meeting, I saw the magnificent and glorious fall colors; seasons are something that elude us here on the California Central Coast. Though basking in the colors, my thoughts were muted by the news from Chicago Affiliate Renate Schneider. She works with various development projects in Jeremie, Haiti, one of the areas hardest hit by Hurricane Matthew.
We are currently seeking nominations for appointment to the Maryknoll Affiliate Board. Are you dedicated to serving the Affiliate movement and committed to building a strong and sustainable organization? Please contact us if you, or someone you know, is able and ready to respond to this invitation.