For many years Maryknoll has had a missionary cooperative agreement with the Seattle Archdiocese. Maryknoll priests come to educate regarding mission work by sharing their personal experiences during Mass. In a three-year cycle, most parishes set aside one weekend during the summer for this missionary visit to learn about the overseas work of the Church.
The Seattle Archdiocese provides the list of parishes desiring a Maryknoll priest’s visit, as well as the dates and parishes to which they have been matched. Most priests stay overnight at Maryknoll House and have use of the house car. Usually the priest will take the supplies (Maryknoll Magazine, donation envelopes, pencils, brochures, etc.) with him. Sometimes Maryknoll House ships the supplies to the parish in advance. The number of Masses served on the weekends—from three to six or seven—can sometimes be overwhelming for a single priest.
Three years ago, the Seattle Affiliates decided to partner with the visiting priests by helping to alleviate some of their work load at the parish level. We only assist at the parishes within the greater Seattle area and the Portland Affiliates assist at parishes in the Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, Washington, area.
On Saturday, January 11, Affiliates from the San Francisco-North Bay Chapter and their friends (19 in all) gathered at Bob and Nancy McFarland’s home to hear an inspirational talk and video by Professor Michael Nagler, followed by questions and answers. Professor Nagler, cofounder of the Peace and Conflict Studies Program at UC Berkeley, received an international award for promoting Gandhian Values Outside India. He has authored several books, including The Search for a Nonviolent Future, and speaks on peace and nonviolence in many venues. Founder and president of the board of the Metta Center for Non-Violence Education in Petaluma, he is a student of Sri Eknath Easwaran and also founded the Blue Mountain Center of Meditation, where he lives.
We sat spellbound as Nagler talked about his new book, The Third Harmony: Nonviolence and the New Story of Human Nature, which comes out in March, to be followed by a film of the same name (see Thirdharmony.org), with coverage on social media and PBS. The first harmony is with the universe, the second with nature and the third is the harmony within us and among us as human beings.
He talked about “the old story” of human beings, which is materialistic, promotes separateness, isolation, and competition; exploits the environment, leading to climate crisis; gives rise to dictators; dominates, destroys, and leads to reaction. It’s about war and violence, poverty and scarcity. Today’s mass media news mostly deals with the old story.
The “new story” is about consciousness, humans as spiritual beings, helping others, cooperation and collaboration, interconnectedness, and the convergence of modern science and spirituality. The new story is about nonviolence as a way of life—it is the only method that can get us to a new paradigm. Violence cannot change hearts, but in the presence of nonviolence, hostility falls away.
As a group, we were very moved by his stories of how nonviolent approaches stopped violent attacks and turned people around. Two films were mentioned as related and worth seeing: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood and A Hidden Life (about Franz Jägerstätter’s resistance to serving under Hitler—it is inspiring and beautiful).
I have known Gail since 2010, when she came to train us to be Maryknoll Affiliate missionaries. She was very dedicated and optimistic about forming a new chapter of Hispanic ladies, the only Spanish-speaking chapter in the US. She didn’t mind driving two hours from Raleigh and was always on time and ready for the meeting.
On April 30, 2011, we had our covenant signing with special guests Father Robert Kus and Father David LaBuda. After that, she called often to see how the chapter was doing and to advise us on different subjects that we could work on. She always made sure that we were treated with respect. In 2011, I had the opportunity to go with her to the Maryknoll Affiliate Conference in New York.
As the chapter grew, she knew that all the new members needed to know what Maryknoll means and what we were doing. So she came on weekends to make sure everyone could assist in new-member orientations. She explained how Father Price founded this mission and how fortunate we were to be in the place where he grew up. After the short training, we renewed our vows at the church. It was a very emotional moment.
Teresa Mariche is a newer member of the chapter. Teresa said about Gail, “She was a great example. She always inspired me to do my best. In spite of knowing her very little, I cared a lot for her. We will always remember her and miss her. May she rest in peace.”
Hearing about other Affiliate chapters holding retreats inspired me to ask our Northeast Florida Affiliates if they would like to hold a one-day retreat at our cottage, located one hour south of Jacksonville. Everyone responded with enthusiasm. Our Chapter had last gone on retreat in 2014, and we all felt the desire to do this again, even if just for one day.
We invited Monsignor Vincent Haut, a local retired priest, to lead us in our retreat and were excited that he was able to do so. After comparing calendars, we determined that everyone could participate on the last Saturday in October. As it turned out, one couple ended up unable to attend due to a funeral, but nine of us (plus one very sweet dog!) gathered with Monsignor at the cottage.
We began the day with each attendee describing what brought them to Maryknoll. Monsignor is a gifted spiritual leader who focused on the promises Jesus made to us about the Holy Spirit, as reported in John’s Gospel. We alternated between meeting all together and splitting up to discuss the latest lesson two-by-two. The weather was beautiful, leading us to spend a lot of time outdoors, enjoying God’s creation as we nurtured our souls.
We also nurtured our bodies. Each person brought a bag lunch to minimize meal preparation duties. We ended the actual retreat with a beautiful Eucharist around the cottage table. Then John and Mary prepared a simple supper for those who were able to stay longer.
I thank all the Chapters that inspired me to plan this retreat. Everyone who attended was blessed by the day we shared, and it is safe to say that our chapter has a new tradition!
At Northeast Florida Chapter’s recent meeting, David Courtwright, Affiliate Shelby Miller’s husband, spoke about his 2019 book, The Age of Addiction: How Bad Habits Became Big Business.* David’s scholarship has centered on the history of addiction in the US and worldwide.
Using illustrations and eliciting comments from the group, he traced how humans searched for new and potentially dangerous pleasures, from honey sought by cave dwellers to today’s digital technology and highly processed food. Many products and activities are potentially addictive, not just those we traditionally think of as vices: alcohol, gambling, prostitution, pornography, and drugs. Today, we face compulsive overeating, machine gambling, excessive social-media use, and even habitual tanning. These have medical and social costs and potential for addiction.
What is an addiction? It is a vice that has become unusually strong, preoccupying and damaging. An addiction is usually a subset of vice, and a vice is usually a subset of pleasure. Addictions cause harm. What counts as a pleasure, vice or addiction changes with time, culture and technology. For example, in Europe and the Americas sugar-rich food is being redefined as a vice, while the traditional vice of marijuana use is becoming a commercial pleasure though a contested one. Tobacco products are another example. Through global public health counter-offensives, cigarette use has declined. However, other forms of excessive consumption and addiction continue with the help of global industries, governments, and criminal organizations.
Is there anything we can do? Age restrictions on certain products help, but we must learn how products are enhanced to make us unwilling consumers.
After the talk, Mary Moritz said, “It was very meaningful to think of all the ways we can become addicted. It reminds us to be mindful of what we do and why we do it. David said that our brains actually get changed by addiction so that we need more and more of what we are addicted to in order to be satisfied.”
*An on-line book forum, ROROTOKO, describes the book and explains why David wrote it. See http://rorotoko.com/interview/20191204_courtwright_david_on_book_age_addiction_bad_habits_big_business/?page=1
The Las Vegas Maryknoll Affiliate Chapter formed 15 years ago after Los Angeles Affiliates Lee and Punch Fermin moved to Las Vegas. The group has now grown to ten people, including four nurses and a recently retired doctor. We were fortunate to gather over a casual dinner with Lee and Punch Fermin, Nicet Santos, and Evelyn Pua. Nicet explained, “Many of us knew about Maryknoll and the Sisters and Fathers from when we were growing up in the Philippines.”
This is a chapter of busy, mostly retired people. They gather to share their lives and support each other. Many of their other activities are spiritually oriented. Their dedication belies the Las Vegas nickname of Sin City.
Hello, we twenty Affiliates of Capítulo Niño Jesús are former catechists of the Parish of the Child Jesus, where Maryknoll Fathers worked in the past. We meet the first Sunday of each month.
We are collaborating and helping in a couple of areas. A group of us collaborates at Casa Bartimeo, which is directed by the Maryknoll father, Kyungsu Son, MM. There they train the visually impaired in massage therapy through both theory classes and practice.* In other projects, we work with elders and with young people at the secondary level of Colegio Estatal.
* See the article, “Casa Bartimeo, A light of hope for the blind in Peru,” in the March 2017 issue of
Maryknoll Magazine. The above photo was reprinted from this article.
On February 18, 2019, 13 of the 15 members of the Maryknoll Affiliate Chapter Misioneras Hispanas Santa Maria, founded in 2011, gathered together. They renewed their Covenant to be missionaries in the spirit of the Maryknoll Mission Movement: to bring Christ’s words and love to where it is not known, especially to the poor and unempowered, while living a life of simplicity, spirituality, global vision, community and action. They are unique among the 36 Affiliate Chapters in the United States in that their membership is comprised of all Latina women, working within a Parish structure. Their mission is the evangelization of Hispanic people living in the fourteen trailer parks around the Wilmington Area.
Melita Angel and Gloria Tan, the present and past coordinators, worked with Norma Rivera, the Basilica of St. Mary’s coordinator of Spanish Ministries, to define this unaddressed need. Father Chesco Garcia, the Parochial Vicar of the Basilica of St. Mary’s, blessed the women before their Covenant was received and accepted by Gail Kelley, representing the Maryknoll Affiliates’ local Regional Coordinator and the Executive Coordinator.
Gail pointed out that these women were walking in the footsteps of the “Tar Heel Apostle”—Father Thomas Price. Father Price, the first North Carolinian ordained to the priesthood, was born in Wilmington. Eventually becoming the Co-Founder of the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, he is being proposed for canonization and is represented by the Raleigh Diocese.
The Northeast Florida Affiliate Chapter was blessed to have Sister Mariana Clemence from Tanzania speak at the April meeting. She is a Franciscan Sister of St. Bernadette, and a parish in St. Augustine, Florida sponsored her trip to the US. Sister Mariana said the order has 220 active Sisters and almost 50 more women are preparing to join them.
Sister spoke of the many ways the Sisters reach out to the poor and needy in Tanzania, in the spirit of both St. Francis of Assisi and St. Bernadette. These include educational and medical work, as well as caring for orphans, lepers, and refugees. The Sisters don’t wait for poor people to come to them for help but travel to the smaller villages to “find them in their environment.” She noted that the many African dialects make communication difficult and impressed us with her command of English, her third language.
Sister Mariana helps unemployed youths and single mothers become self-employed and works on projects to provide reliable and clean water, the lack of which leads to water-borne diseases.
As Affiliate Brian Schoonover drove Sister Mariana to our meeting, she asked him the cost of the minivan that they were riding in. When he told her that it was a $30,000 car when new, she gasped and said, “Do you know how many houses that could buy where I live?”
We were all reminded of how much we have and how our lives are very different from those of the people whom Sister Mariana serves. But despite the poverty that Sister confronts daily, her smile never left her face. As we listened to her, we shared a wonderful bag of cashews that she had brought from Tanzania. We also enjoyed seeing her wear a Flagler College sweatshirt over her habit, a gift to her from Brian, her “chauffeur.” Affiliate Shelby Miller concluded that “Sister is a warm, generous, and joyful woman, firm in her faith and vocation.” Our understanding of life in Tanzania was enhanced by Sister’s open sharing with us.
This has been a busy year for us, with involvement in several issues, but also a time for celebration.