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.
A recent communication from Maryknoll Affiliate Robert Guice of Houston shows what active missioners the Houston Affiliates are:
In January, Dick Horstman joined a group of parishioners to take more than 100 gifts to the children of Piedras Negras, help at a soup kitchen, and deliver other gifts to an orphanage there. In March and April, he helped take youth and adults from four different high schools and a parish on mission trips to Eagle Pass, near the US/Mexico border.
Bob and Ruth Kleeman also went on a mission trip to Eagle Pass at a different time in March.
Ron Covey continues spending considerable time at his mission, Caminando Por La Paz in Guatemala City, where they work in many ways to be good neighbors, including tutoring 60 young students and distributing free shoes. Ron and Robert also staffed the Maryknoll Booth at a Vocation Expo at St. Mary’s Seminary in Houston. In July, Ron and Henry Yu will staff the “Sweatshop” booth at the Diocesan Youth Conference.
Several members will be traveling to Guatemala in November to participate in MAC 2017. If you will be there, too, plan to chat with the Houston Affiliates for ideas to take home to your own chapter.
The Greater Boston Affiliate Chapter held their annual retreat in mid-November at the Maryknoll Sisters’ retreat/vacation house in Watch Hill, RI. The retreat followed the 2016 election by only a few days, and the 14 Affiliate participants from five New England states arrived feeling rattled, despondent and holding emotions not felt in a long time. Thankfully, retreats, if they are good, have a way of opening our minds and souls to deeper, more hope-filled realities. This retreat surely did that. What’s more, the physical setting, with expansive views of the Atlantic Ocean accessible from many vantage points within the spacious house; and, outside, a leaf covered pathway that led one to that ocean shore in just minutes, politely colluded to usher in a sense of, “It’ll all be ok.”
Marie Wren, of The San Francisco /North Bay Chapter, shared that in past years their chapter has organized presentations at the parish where they meet. These included a three-part series on Catholic social teaching, and a “Meet Maryknoll” evening. Other parishes in the diocese and schools and colleges were invited.
For 2017, the chapter members are educating themselves regarding immigration and refugees, and they are planning an evening presentation on these topics with the hope that the parish may sponsor a refugee family.
In Seattle, Fr. Tom Marti, MM, and Anna Clarke Johnson,
Team Leader for the Western Region,
Maryknoll US Mission Education
Connections. The Seattle Chapter makes a point of maintaining contacts with missioners in the field and contributing to mission efforts. Ralph Maughan (Western Region Co-coordinator) will be connecting with Br. Tim Raible, MM, and Br. John Beeching, MM, in Bangkok, Thailand, in early 2017. For many years, Br. Tim was assigned to mission promotion from the Seattle Maryknoll House, where the Seattle Chapter meets.