The latest news about the Maryknoll Affiliates
State of the Heart - Affiliate Joint Meeting - November, 2019
The Forum beckons us once again!
Affiliate Board members and Regional Coordinators once again gathered together in the Forum, the home of the Maryknoll Sisters Mission Institute in Ossining, NY. We return to this place each year. In a way, it beckons us. The spirit present in this space draws us to it. For us, the Forum is the locus where the four pillars come together to help guide us in our discernment. It is here we come together to pray, to share, to dialogue and to be one with all Affiliates.
I am writing to share with you my reflections on some of the more important highlights of our gathering.
The focus of this meeting by design was largely a look at ourselves, the leadership of the Affiliates, Board members and Regional Coordinators together, but in the context of our relationship with the Affiliate movement. As the Affiliate leaders, we are called to “discern how to best guide the Affiliate movement.” Please repeat that and take some time to ponder it. Put yourself in my or in another leadership position. What does this statement mean to you? What would you do if you had this responsibility? These were some of questions I asked those of us gathered to ponder.
The Affiliates are in no way, shape or form a hierarchical organization in the way that most organizations are; typically visualized in the shape of a pyramid. But the Affiliates have no head. I and other Board members are not the head. Bob Short, as the current Executive Coordinator is not the head. We, individually or collectively hold no authority over any Affiliate or Chapter. We instead are called to be servant-leaders. So, what does that mean? In simple terms, it means we flip the pyramid upside-down. It means we serve and support the Affiliate movement. It does sound simple enough on the face of it. But again, I ask you to put yourself in my or any leadership position and think about this more deeply. How would you do this? What would this look like?
Throughout the duration of this meeting, I had the great pleasure of talking with many Sisters and other people during our very limited free time and at meals, and I can’t tell you how many times it was expressed to me how they wouldn’t want my “job!” Hmm, what do I do with that? Interestingly, I read just very recently that to be a servant can be a thankless job, full of ungracious demands and humbling circumstances. Perhaps their expressions to me reflected this understanding of servant-leader and their perception of the difficulties/challenges this position faces.
“The work of leaders involves hearing and identifying the long notes which play out in daily life, and which point to what is happening at a deeper level, resulting in a discerned response.”
This quote from Sr. Patricia Murray, IBVM is from the recent LCWR conference. It struck me as very relevant for Affiliate leadership, and so I shared and reflected upon it at our joint meeting. It served somewhat as an outline for our meeting, as well. This quote identifies three very important tasks for us–to listen, to discern and to respond. For me the most important and what must be foundational to the other two is listening; listening through engagement and dialogue. If we are not doing this, then on what basis can we even consider making decisions or taking action that appropriately and effectively support of the Affiliates? Wouldn’t you agree that those of us with the responsibility to guide, serve and support the Affiliates must have a pretty good awareness and understanding of the movement, including what is happening in it–the long notes? And likely the best way to do this is through engagement and dialogue between Affiliates and leadership, right?
At the Celebration Mass on Sunday (11/10/19) of the Affiliate Joint Meeting of the Board and Regional Coordinators, Co-founder of the Affiliate movement, Sister Ellen McDonald MM gave the homily. Those of us who were lucky enough to be there couldn't help but feel that this was a special moment in our history. Ellen's homily follows:
When I was invited to give today’s reflection, I mistakenly thought it was for the closing liturgy of the Affiliate Board and Regionals Meeting this weekend, that is, with Fr. Russ and the Affiliates who are here. Only later did I understand that this Sunday’s community liturgy was the “closing liturgy” being referred to. However, I had agreed because of the reference to the Affiliates and that had not changed. The Affiliates have been and are a great learning vehicle in my life. Struggling with a homily for and with them was sure to be another learning experience. I also express my gratitude to them by taking seriously my prayer ministry assignment which is the Affiliates.
Going now to today’s readings, it is safe to say that the pre-Advent scripture texts we just heard are all about eschatology – the last things, as we say. Not an easy topic to talk about! So I began by looking for connections among the readings. Certainly in both the texts from 2nd Maccabees and from Luke’s Gospel, the theme of resurrection is prominent. While I hold a firm belief in the resurrection, I am not sure I can say much more about it. The question put to Jesus about the resurrection highlights the fact that it is not easy to get our mind around this topic. Jesus’ response that God is the God of the living, not of the dead, is not an immediate help for a questioning mind. No doubt a spiritual director would tell me to let go of my human way of thinking and let God be God.
The theme of afterlife continues in the psalm, beginning with the words, “when your glory comes, Lord.” And part of the reason Paul was writing to the Thessalonians was because some of the believers there were not working because they thought the Lord’s coming was imminent. They were distorting the normal development of Christian life.
My preference in all this was to recognize the pre-Advent texts as calling us, among other things, to go back to thinking about our personal “bigger” vision: what are we willing to live for? perhaps willing to die for? (as our own Sister-martyr, Ita Ford, wrote to her niece.) I felt myself drawn to this letter of Paul’s, said to be the oldest writing of the Christian Testament. Paul had been rejected by the Jews in Philippi when he dared to direct his preaching to the so-called “pagans” in Thessalonia. There he succeeds in forming a community. However, after three months a riot breaks out and Paul is forced again to flee the area. His big concern now is what is going to happen to these recent converts to whom he had taught the mere basics of Christian life? With this background, I discovered an interest in reading both letters to the Thessalonians and wondering why they are given such prominence at this time in our Liturgical year. (Last week we heard from 2 Thess l, this week from 2:2, and next week will be 2:3.) I also had the unholy thought that neither Jim Madden nor I ever had three months to spend with any newly founded Affiliate Chapter!
Below is a beautiful letter of support from newly installed Cardinal Ramazzini. It tell us something about the Cardinal and the commitment of the members of Guatemala Chapter. This is a translation from the Spanish. Some of the formatting could not be carried over to this site.
Guatemala of the Assumption, October 2019
We celebrate and are in solidarity with you through your struggle, Monsignor Álvaro Ramazzini
"If I say that I love God, I have to prove it through love of neighbor and this love means fighting for justice." Bishop Ramazzini
The Guatemalan Chapter of Maryknoll Affiliates, linked to the Maryknoll Affiliates Movement based in the United States and one of the four entities that make up the Maryknoll family, along with priests and brothers, sisters and lay missionaries; today we embrace a hope that celebrates life and strengthens our faith by receiving the news that on October 5, Monsignor (Bishop) Ramazzini was elevated to the College of Cardinals of the Catholic Church.
Thank you, Monsignor, for your defense of the territory and for the defense of those who in this country are invisible to the powerful. Thank you for accompanying the social justice struggle in a country where it is difficult for us to find the pieces of the justice puzzle. Thank you for fighting for the rights of those who do not live, but who survive in this land where power does not assume their history.
We recognize that his studies of Theology in Italy, being appointed Bishop of San Marcos and later of Huehuetenango - far from separating him from reality, motivated him to tour the area and, by becoming aware of the amount of impoverished people, he developing a social pastoral that responds to hunger, lack of education, employment and health; and, promotes the defense of the human rights of native peoples, peasants and migrants. His journey did not stop and he created the Peace and Ecology Commission of the diocese of San Marcos, from where the water quality of the rivers and births around the Marlin mine is monitored.
Though not a typical post, this TED talk seems especially appropriate for our time. Anand Giridharadas, former writer for the New Your Times, writes about people and cultures caught amid the great forces of our time. The talk is moving, important and very well presented.
Susan Gunn, Executive Director of Maryknoll's Office of Global Concerns (MOGC) and presenter of the the MAC workshop - Influencing Public Policy - provided this brief synopsis of her workshop:
Beginning with an acknowledgement of the signs of the times – the deep polarization we are experiencing – and then pretty quickly go into how we are going about public policy work on our three priority issues amid that tension. Our three priority issues are care for refugees and migrants, care for the environment, and promoting peace and nonviolence. Ending with a time for questions and dialogue.
To read more about Susan, the other 4 workshops and other events at MAC 2020, see the website at: www.mkmac.org.
Registration is open and sign-ups have already begun.
For the GO FORTH Generation
Discover Your Neighbor (DYN) offers unique materials and lessons to inspire young people to "Go Forth" as agents of faith, love, and service
Kevin McCarthy, of Maryknoll’s Church Engagement Department as well as the Affiliate Coordinator for the Springfield, MA Chapter, would like to make Affiliates aware of this very dynamic initiative that is designed specifically for globally-minded educators who want to guide their students toward making a difference in their world! The Heading for the lesson plans is, Air Has No Borders and includes topics on Care of Creation, Economic Justice, Go Forth and Migration.
For more information, go to: https://discoveryourneighbor.org/
Please consider sharing this with your local parish or other communities with whom you relate.
Will Your Chapter Be Represented?
Coming in June 2020 is the Maryknoll Affiliate Conference—a once-in-three-years experience not to be missed. MAC 2020 will be held at the Graymoor Spiritual Life Center in the Hudson Valley, New York, from Thursday through Sunday, June 25-28. To learn more about what is planned, see the conference website, www.mkmac.org.
To encourage broad attendance, the Maryknoll Affiliate Board is again offering grants for full or partial coverage of the conference fee and travel costs. Ideally, every chapter of the over 45 chapters worldwide will have a representative at the Conference. Would you attend if finances were not an issue?
To apply for funding, go to www.mkmac.org and click on either English or Spanish at the top. On the drop-down menu, chose Register. On that page, click on the Travel Grant option. Following instructions, fill out and submit the form. Ask your Chapter Contact or Regional Coordinator to send a letter of recommendation to the address shown on the form.
Along with the Travel Grant, we encourage you to explore and consider other supplemental funding sources. For example, some chapters may help with either funds or frequent flyer miles. At recent MACs, as many as 15 attendees benefited from grant assistance, and we hope that as many or more will be assisted through the 2020 program.
In the last few months several people have written to ask about joining a chapter. Three have already done so. One person is presently looking into starting a new chapter in the southeast. All good news.
Directives are in place about how to facilitate processes for joining and starting a chapter. With regard to joining a chapter, some, though not all, chapters have incorporated these advices. Three of the primary components are listed below.
MARYKNOLL AFFILIATES INITIAL FORMATION PROCESS
We would like to animate, inform and engage participants in the formative process in order to help them discern if the Maryknoll Affiliate world and its mission is a place in which they can find a spiritual home. This initial formation is a process of mutual discovery.
An “Accompaniment Person” will be identified to assist in the formation process. This would potentially be a Regional Coordinator or Maryknoll Affiliate in the area. The Accompaniment Person would serve as the contact for the potential Chapter, by answering any questions, working with them during the formation process and linking the people in the potential Chapter to any needed resources.
The formation process includes five core themes. It provides a framework to begin an ongoing journey of exploration wherein the group grows in appreciation of and commitment to our Maryknoll Affiliate Mission as lived out in the four pillars of Spirituality, Community, Global Vision and Action.
The first blog post on the MAC2020 website is a recent article by the Keynote Speaker, Nancy Sylvester IHM. It's entitled, "An Early Morning Contemplative Ride". Go to: www.mkmac.org and click on blog - in English or Spanish. The first Registrations already came in last week. Go to the website to register, or to just get a better sense of what the Conference offers.
As stated in the Maryknoll Affiliates Organization document: The Affiliate Board is the authoritative body that coordinates and unifies the Maryknoll Affiliates.
Two sentences in the Roles & Responsibilities document give a deeper and more spirited description: In Seeking to be faithful to servant leadership, the Board commits to engage in deep listening with the wider Affiliate movement, to bring the voices at the margins to the center and to always seek the greater good, both within and beyond our global movement.
The Affiliate Board meets twice a year at Maryknoll to plan, reflect and share mutual camaraderie together. It’s a wonderful opportunity to come together with others (including representatives of the Sisters, Lay Missioners, Fathers & Brothers on the Board) to help the Affiliate movement remain vital, faithful and moving forward.
Ann Carr wrote: Not sure if you have been following the Amazon Synod, but I believe this is a beautiful, important moment for our church. Could we consider joining our brothers and sisters in the Amazon in prayer during this important time?
Maryknollers who have worked with indigenous peoples over the years have taught me to respect their wisdom and the great gifts they have to offer us. Now more than ever, with our planet on fire and in peril, I hope we can hope our hearts and consciousness to receive their many gifts. Despite some of the backlash and stirrings of opposition, I believe (hope) that the spirit of the holy is very much with the church of the Amazon and it feels important to stand with them in joy and solidarity.
Thank you Ann.
To get more information go to: https://catholicclimatemovement.global/amazon-synod/
Initial comments & some things to look for:
Check out the site now: www.mkmac.org
Nancy Sylvester IHM will be the the keynote speaker at MAC 2020 - June 25-28 - at Graymoor Spiritual Life Center. Here is a synopsis of her presentation:
Synopsis: How do we witness to Love in a time of chaos when all our structures and systems are breaking down? How do we witness to Love in a time when polarities continue to separate us—as family, friends, citizens and members of the planetary community? How do we witness to Love at this time in our evolutionary journey? Believing that responding to these questions needs to emerge from a new consciousness, Nancy’s presentation integrates how consciousness develops with the transformative practice of contemplation. She explores the unique call we have as Maryknoll Affiliates, as persons committed to the spiritual dimension of our lives, to witness to Love in ways that are so needed at this time.
Note: The MAC2020 is ready to launch. We are just waiting for bank clearance in order to process credit cards.
Affiliates from the Albany, Goshen and New Jersey Chapters came together to participate in the National Action in Newark, NJ on September 4 to protest against the inhumane treatment and detention of children and families at immigration centers across the country. In part, this demonstration and the one on July 18 in Washington, DC was a call to all Catholics to raise our voices and stand together in solidarity.
Here’s the link: