Since the sharing last year by Maryknoll Mission Educator Matt Rousso on “Laudato Si,” our Affiliate community in Northeast Florida has had the opportunity to reflect on what the encyclical letter of Pope Francis is teaching us and calling us to. In a local social and economic environment that is substantially sustained by the use of fossil fuels and where many people are biblical literalists, the development of ecological awareness is both delicate and challenging.
In this series of articles on Formation, we are intentionally not looking at the five themes in the order listed in the website: Affiliate Identity, Mission, Spirituality of Mission, Community, and Prophetic Witness. These themes are not linear or sequential; they are all relational with the other themes and build on each other. In upcoming articles, we will look at how the themes of Community and Mission contribute to our identity as Maryknoll Affiliates. Today, we look at the Formation theme of Prophetic Witness.
We are all prophets, every day. By where we live, what kind of car we drive, everything we do, we proclaim what we hold dear to us. As with all five Formation themes, Prophetic Witness is not so much about knowing things but is a process of discernment.We all make choices about how we live, and that speaks volumes about who we are. Both individually and communally, what we announce and denounce in word and action is what identifies us to the world around us.
In his address to the Maryknoll Society Centennial Symposium in 2011*, Fr. Steven Judd, MM, reminded us of three traditional marks or traits that characterize Maryknoll Spirituality. They are affability, availability, and adaptability. When I read his comments on them recently, I said to myself, “Well, they’re pretty accurate.” If I were to describe Maryknollers, I might not use the same words, but the ideas are readily apparent to anyone who has been around the Maryknoll family. I began to realize that these three qualities are reflective of the Maryknoll people we encounter and love, and are also aspirational. They present for us real goals, lofty and achievable, that help define who we are.
The NE Florida affiliate community had a brief but joyous visit, which can most accurately be described as a holiday family visit, by a part of our extended Maryknoll family. On Dec 18, 2014, Sister Margarita Jamias, MM, shared with local affiliates and the wider community her passion for cosmology and the environment. Our chapter hosted a gathering where Sr. Margarita showed the video, Journey of the Universe, followed by a discussion of what moved and challenged us in the video.
“Formation is a work of Art, not a police action.”
Recently I read an account by Antonio Spadaro, SJ, of a conversation between Pope Francis and the superiors of men’s religious communities during their meeting in Rome, November 27-29, 2013. Much of their conversation about formation, charism, and mission within religious communities applies to our Affiliate communities.
I thank the Affiliates and our Board for the privilege of representing them at the General Assembly (GA) of the Maryknoll Sisters. 144 voting Sister Delegates came to set their directions and policies and to elect new leadership for the Congregation. Other official but non-voting participants included: Fr. Jack Sullivan – Society, Margaret (Peg) Vamosy – Lay Missioners, and Mary Elizabeth (Mef) Ford –Full Circle.