After about two years of co-meditation in a small Maryknoll contemplative group, I am sharing and putting into words what our experience is and what it means to me. Since I have many years in the traditional church structure, I approach my experience of our co-meditation group within the context of sacrament.
These definitions clarify my use of the term sacrament:
The Sacramental Principle: That which is always and everywhere true (the eternal Cosmic Christ), on occasion needs to be recognized, acknowledged, and celebrated. —Michael Himes,1996
Fr. Himes uses the term true; I expand that notion to that which is beautiful, transformative, anything which leads us to an in-depth encounter with our true self and the other.
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.
Mary Ryan-Hotchkiss – NSFA Co-editor
Cincinnati Affiliates have wide and deep connections to Maryknoll. Many in the chapter had been a Maryknoll priest, sister, or lay missioner, or attended a Maryknoll seminary and maintain contacts with their Maryknoll associates. Members enjoy coming together for community and to share their activities but don’t usually work together on one project. Some are no longer comfortable with long distance travel, but several attended the 2015 regional meeting in Wisconsin. Mission and Global Vision are evident in their actions for peace and justice in their current professions or volunteer work.
Mike Gable travels extensively as part of his role as the diocesan Director of Missions. He enthusiastically mentioned many programs in the Cincinnati area that facilitate connections and sharing between parishes, teachers, communities, and faiths around the world. He strongly endorsed JustFaith as an excellent peace and justice formation and community-building program. His connections as a returned Maryknoll Lay Missioner with his wife Kathy, and as an Affiliate, also keep him well involved.
Ahn Vu, another returned Maryknoll Lay Missioner, and Bob Bonnici also appreciate their on-going international connections in their work with youth. Over the years, members have worked as volunteers with Cesar Chavez, taught English in China, math in Africa, and worked locally with immigrants and GED programs, and in many other service roles. Jane Friels, who celebrated her 80th birthday at this gathering, reflected that Maryknoll was the first place that made her aware and appreciative of other cultures. Liz Maxwell added, “We never stop learning.” The chapter recently met with local Muslims.
Liz graciously hosted this midweek gathering of six Affiliates and told us a little about her husband Bob Maxwell, who passed away last year. We saw a poster for the Bob Maxwell Peace Builder Award inaugurated in 2017 after his death. The spirit of Maryknoll lives on in Bob Maxwell’s award, and in the global vision, relationships, and actions of this chapter.
Members of the NE Ohio chapter live near Cleveland and meet monthly in members’ homes. A couple members have retired, but most of them are still helping people on a daily basis in their professions as therapists, a nurse/yoga instructor, and a lawyer. They were quick to advocate for immigrants and refugees, gun control and concern about shootings, and the poor and hungry.
Curt and Jan Alberti and Pam Cibik were in the recent massive March for Our Lives in Chicago. Pam insisted, “We’ve got to support the young people who are demanding safety and better gun control.”
Kathy Ress participated the Ecumenical Advocacy Day in Washington DC—co-sponsored by the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns—that addressed both immigration and gun control. (Watch for her article, “Advocacy for Immigrants,” in the next issue.) She participates in a local group that succeeded after eight months and thousands of dollars in legal and other fees, in having one man released from ICE detention. Her parish is discerning being a sanctuary church.
The Affiliates of Santa Maria in Wilmington, NC, are currently involved in many activities. We prepare lunches for needy people who have no homes and we work together to help families in need by dispensing basic necessties. At the same time, we continue taking Communion to the Hispanics we find in the New Hanover Hospital. Here in Wilmington, we pray the rosary before Mass and attend the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament once a month. Blessings from all of our Chapter.
Gail Kelley adds that she has been invited to attend all the Wilmington Chapter meetings and made it to a recent meeting. She explains that Gloria Tan was the Chapter Coordinator for many years and attended an Affiliate conference with her. Since Gail accompanied the Spanish-speaking Wilmington Chapter during their first orientation, Gloria asked her to give a review orientation, which will happen soon, because only three of their current active membership participated in the first orientation.
Several of the North Bay Affiliates had been on mission in southeast Asia. Now their mission not so far afield is helping a Haitian refugee family in California. Last November, the NSFA told about Bob and Nancy McFarland being willing to open their home to a refugee family.
Nancy and Bob had begun to work with a rapid response team to help undocumented immigrants. One family who fled Haiti for their safety had traveled through many countries before reaching California. They learned that this family of four—a father, his wife who was 9 months pregnant, and their 2- and 4-year-old children—was sleeping on half of the living room floor of someone else’s apartment. Even though the McFarlands had health concerns and would soon be traveling to the 2017 MAC in Guatemala, they had a spare bedroom and could not refuse to help.
The McFarlands’ cautious “Yes” was echoed throughout the community. They were gratified when 17 of their associates immediately volunteered to help materially and with transportation. The father, Jean, spoke to another faith community that collected $1,800 to help the family pay expenses. Another Affiliate gave a car he could no longer use to the family. Now Jean has passed his written driver’s test but not yet the actual driving test allowing him to use the car he’s been given.
The family is applying for asylum because of the violence they experienced which forced them to flee Haiti. Although lawyers volunteered some of their time, the asylum application will still cost about $5,000. Affiliates transported and accompanied the family to the immigration hearing, carrying the 25 pounds of paper applications for the 4 refugees.
“A healthy baby was born to the family and it was like a real Christmas story. Jesus was a refugee,” Nancy reminisced.
The community has come together to support the family of five. That evening during our pot luck dinner, Bob took a phone call and made a quick exit to drive Jean to his new job.
Helping the refugees has reinvigorated this Affiliate chapter. Their presentation last fall about immigration issues at a local parish has attracted several new members. They have connected with other organizations who are also concerned about immigrants and refugees. These Affiliates remember their immigrant roots and eagerly share their love, time, and energy.
The Korea Affiliates held their monthly meeting on April 7, 2018, at the Maryknoll Sisters’ residence in Seoul. Fifteen members, including two newcomers, spent the afternoon sharing on their personal lives and actions since the last meeting a month ago. Russ Feldmeier attended and presided at Mass.
The questions below were used as a framework for the sharing:
They had a wide-ranging discussion. One person talked about the need to listen to the people we serve. He works with youth at Sogang University, a Jesuit University in Seoul, and facilitates pilgrimages and other programs. Others spoke of the value of the Maryknoll family and the way Maryknoll missioners in Korea influenced them. In general, they talked about the value of the Affiliate chapter where we can all meet and which helps us to grow. Since this was right after Easter, they talked about the Paschal Mystery of new life even through suffering.
The hot issue for the day was the #MeToo movement, which has had a powerful impact in Korea recently. It has been an opportunity for Koreans to deal with the patriarchal aspect of Korean society, and a number of the Affiliates shared on the impact it has been having on their own lives and on the society at large.
There was a great deal of energy at the meeting, and the sharing was rich.
Bob addresses the Hurricane Harvey floods, ongoing mission trips, and volunteering at Casa Juan Diego. Some Houston Affiliates are doing other mission work, too.
Dick Horstman, Ruth, and I are working with a local parish along with Catholic Charities and the Archdiocesan Mission Council to assist in rebuilding flooded houses near Angleton, south of Houston. So far, the families most in need—the poorest of the poor—have been identified, and the diocese has given us permission to use a six-bedroom house to accommodate incoming mission groups. This house, previously owned by the Basilian Fathers, who have turned their parishes over to the archdiocese, will now be a place for volunteers coming from around the state and country. Eight months later, many houses are still not livable, mostly because the people don’t have the money to buy materials. Catholic Charities has some funds available, and we are working with them to get the money to home owners.
Dick Horstman, a newer Affiliate, is in contact with Louise Zwick, co-founder of Casa Juan Diego* (CJD) with her husband, Mark, who passed away in 2016. He is arranging to have a high school group replace a roof on one of the men’s houses. Louise seems to never change, but she misses Mark very much. She says that he usually made the “big decisions,” so she continually asks him for help to carry on and make the right choices. She has been blessed with some longer-term volunteers and that has helped a lot.
Dick and his parish still go on missions to Eagle Pass, Texas, as are groups from four local Catholic high schools. The high schoolers do a lot of home repairs, including roof replacements. Fr. Gerry Kelly, MM, goes on most of these missions and also on mission trips with the various medical missions to Honduras, south Texas, and Costa Rica.
I volunteer each Wednesday to “run the sandwich route” at Casa Juan Diego. Our parish makes about 75 sandwiches three times a week for delivery to CJD, which are distributed to the migrant workers on street corners waiting for work. Along with those men, we usually find a few groups of homeless people who always welcome a sandwich and fresh fruit and a bottle of water.
*For more about CJD, see July/August, 2017 NSFA, "If We Had Any Guts, ..."
New Orleans area Affiliates (Gulf South Chapter) bring to life the Maryknoll charisms of hospitality, spirituality, mission accompaniment, global vision, social justice, as well as compassion, mercy, and acceptance. Ten Affiliates gathered on short notice at Matt and Janet Rousso’s home to visit with the Hotchkisses this April.
Even Affiliates who were not able to join us were emphatic in their support of social justice. Ben Gordon sent an email that he was attending a meeting addressing the incursion of tourist facilities into his working-class neighborhood. Another Affiliate was on her way to participate in the People’s March in Memphis commemorating the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King.
Six long-time residents of Hawaii with deep Maryknoll connections shared their stories over lunch at the home of Roseyn Devlin in Kailua, Hawaii, on the island of Oahu. This Affiliate chapter began more than 10 years ago after Jack Sullivan recognized their Maryknoll connections, and that they were already meeting, and suggested they form a chapter. Several of the members knew some of the Maryknoll Sisters and the 25-year Affiliates honored at the recent Conference in Guatemala. Roseyn has also attended a couple of Maryknoll Affiliate Conferences in New York and while there visited some Maryknoll Sisters she knew.
The Maryknoll School in Honolulu was a connection for several Affiliates. Roseyn worked 22 years as the librarian, and Patti Shannon also served there. Ginny Klein’s four children attended the coed school.
Betsy Connors served in Taiwan as a Maryknoll Sister nurse for several years before she left the order and later married Larry. Larry, now deceased, became a chiropractor in Hawaii and was part of the Maryknoll Affiliate Oahu chapter since its beginning. This October, Betsy and Roseyn attended and were inspired by the Maryknoll Sisters’ gathering in Hawaii for sisters serving in East Asia and the Pacific.