Maryknoll Affiliate News (297)

The latest news about the Maryknoll Affiliates

Tuesday, 08 November 2016 14:28

State of the Heart - Fall Board Meeting 2016

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 State of The Heart Message

Fall 2017 Board Meeting

David Schaffner – Board Chair

Driving into the Hudson Valley for our October board meeting, I saw the magnificent and glorious fall colors; seasons are something that elude us here on the California Central Coast. Though basking in the colors, my thoughts were muted by the news out of Haiti and particularly from Chicago Affiliate Renate Schneider. She works with various development projects in Jérèmie, one of the areas hardest hit by hurricane Matthew.

My wife and I have been to Jérèmie twice, in 2011 and just last spring, where I taught Introduction
to Agribusiness, and Paula taught ESL. The classroom where I taught lost its roof and was flooded, and the guesthouse where we lived was completely leveled. While not there to experience the terror of such a destructive force, I still feel a great loss after so many contributed to making UNOGA (University of Nouville Grande’Anse) happen. [To learn more about Renate’s charitable organization, go to Haitian Connection (]

our meeting, I was
heartened by the
presence of Rosa
Beatriz Castañeda
and Claudia
Samayoa who
came from Guatemala to report on MAC2017. This is the first truly international MAC conference— is, taking place outside the US. The program presented to us by Rosa and Claudia wowed us. It is based on the Affiliate four pillars: Action: an opportunity to visit mission projects in conjunction with the conference; Global Vision: applying indigenous people’s ethos to our mission perspective; Community: sharing activities and socials to get to know our fellow Affiliates from around the world; and Spirituality: a particular emphasis on seeing God in all creation and in all peoples.

The board has approved a travel grant program to encourage the broadest possible representation of the Affiliate Movement. Conference registration and information on the travel grant application process will be available after the first of the year. This MAC is going to be very special and I hope you will give serious and prayerful consideration to attending. MAC2017 happens Thursday, November 9th through Sunday, the 12th, at the beautiful Casa de Retiros Verbo Encarnado (http:// in the mountains not far from Guatemala City. Post-conference opportunities to visit mission projects will be offered.

Other board actions were reported in the Monday email sent on November 7th. They include a continued focus on the three committees that were established to act on your responses to the Affiliate Survey of 2015: Communication, Sustainability and Growth, and Connection. These committees will be reporting to you in the NSFA, beginning in January, 2017.

We attended to other organizational tasks that may seem pedestrian to an outsider but are vital to an organization: providing for replacement of members rotating off the board, updating our Roles & Responsibilities statements, revision of the Board Member Manual, reviewing our finances, and approval of budgets and expenditures. Did I mention that we’ll be 25 years old next year?

In my short time as board chair, it is clear to me that it takes a small village to keep the Affiliate Movement moving. I thank my fellow Affiliates on the Board and our Regional Coordinators; and in particular our board members from the other three Maryknoll expressions: Sisters Norie Mojado and Teruko Ito – the Congregration, Marj Humphrey – the Maryknoll Lay Missioners, and Russ Feldmeier – the Society. Executive Coordinator Bob Short provides not only coordination, but wisdom and leadership. Eleanor Swanson serves as our recording secretary. And our major communication efforts, Not So Far Afield and No Tan Lejos del Horizonte, would not happen without Mary Ryan-Hotchkiss, Paula Schaffner, Rosa Beatriz Castañeda, and their editorial staffs. Of course the Affiliates would not be the Affiliates without the energy and spirit that all of you bring to all your missions.


This week - November 3, 2016 - Claudia Samayoa, member of the Maryknoll Affiliate Chapter in Guatemala was given the Myra Mack Chang A. for her untiring work in Human Rights on behalf of the people of Guatemala.  In the accompanying photo you can see Claudia receiving the award from, the Procurator General of Human Rights in Guatemala, Jorge Edwardo de León Duque. 

If you know Spanish and would like to read Claudia's poignant words after receiving the award, email at:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.





 Maryknoll Affiliates Board

 Consensus Action Statements – Meeting #58

 October 21-23, 2016

CAS #1: The Board approaches with an open heart the request of the Nairobi group to become a Chapter.  To move this dialogue forward, Society and Congregation members in Kenya and Tanzania will be contacted. Bob Short will communicate with the Nairobi group to explain more about the Affiliate formation program and about our search for an accompaniment person.


CAS #2:  The Affiliates will continue the dialogue with a group in Mombasa concerning the possibility of its becoming a virtual chapter.  In November, Bob Short will meet with group representatives to explore this possibility further.


CAS #3.  The Affiliates will allocate  $15,000 - $16,000 to fund the travel grant program for MAC 2017.


CAS #4. The Board approves the six revised Roles and Responsibilities documents presented, with the agreed-upon changes.


CAS #5. The Board affirms the nomination of Manny Hotchkiss to the Affiliate Board.


CAS #6.  The Board agrees the three committees created at the April 2016 meeting – Communications, Connections, and Growth & Sustainability – should be reinvigorated.  To this end Bob and Rich will communicate with the committee members concerning continuing work.


CAS #7.  The Communications, Connections, and Growth & Sustainability Committee chairs will submit articles for Not So Far Afield and No Tan Lejos del Horizonte concerning their work.


CAS #8.  Bob Short, Mary Massaro, Paula Schaffner, and Ginny McEvoy will revise the Affiliate Handbook to have a provisional updated Handbook by the Spring Board Meeting in May, 2017. Archival material will be transferred to the Maryknoll Archives.  The team will also assess what additional material needs to be updated and how to proceed with updates. 


CAS #9. The Board approves the 2017 Affiliate Operating Budget.


CAS #10.  The Board commits to cover the possible shortfall of $7,400 if fewer than 60 people from outside of Guatemala attend the MAC.  The number is based on the fact that 40 people have so far indicated their intent to attend.




The Board enthusiastically received the MAC2017 report, expressing wholehearted support of the conference plan, and deep appreciation to Rosa Beatriz Castañeda, Claudia Samayoa and all involved.


DJS 10/31/2016




Friday, 28 October 2016 18:49

Prayer for Syria (Leonore Smith-Aman)

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I copied the message below from something my affiliate friend Beth Begley sent out from Pax Christi. It's short.

Most of you know that I have a very special feeling for the people of Syria, and especially the city of Aleppo, which I visited in 2008. The recent news photo of the little Syrian boy, 5 years old, bloodied and shell shocked, speaks volumes about the incredible suffering of the people there. 

Pray with Pope Francis for Peace in Syria (shared by our partners from Catholic Relief Services)

In July, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, said, “We need a worldwide movement towards peace in Syria." On October 31, 2016, please join Pope Francis in prayer.  Pope Francis will be saying a prayer for Peace in Syria at 3 p.m. in Sweden. Caritas International is inviting people of faith around the world to pray at that time (9 a.m. EDT) or at 3 p.m. local time—or any time that works.

Here are links to the prayer and the overall campaign website.  Click here to learn more about CRS’ work to address the needs of Syrians.

Often it seems as if there is little we can do in response to crises such as these on an individual level, yet there is something very powerful about joining together in prayer for special purpose. That's why I ask you to join me in a prayer for Syria on Monday.


Lenore (Smith-Aman)


Thursday, 27 October 2016 12:47

Thank You from Renate

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A note to all of us from Renate just before she returned to Haiti.

Hi Bob,

I am leaving for Haiti tomorrow, but did not want to leave without letting you know how deeply I have been moved by the Affiliates response nationwide. I am so proud to be part of that community. Please let all the Affiliates know that I am deeply grateful and will share their generous contributions with my people in Jeremie.
I will be sending periodic updates.
Renate Schneider, MA Psych, MA Pastoral Studies, R EEG T, R PSG T  President Haitian Connection    Vice Rectrice University of the Nouvelle Grand'Anse Do I dare to disturb the universe? T.S. Elliot

[We received this letter from Renate a few days after the Category 4 hurricane made a direct hit on Jérémie, Haiti.  It is a remarkable (sad, enlightening, important, beautiful testimony to the Haitian people) letter from a wonderful woman.  We weren't able to include all the photos from the original letter.  However, as you might guess, all of them show destruction and almost unimaginable devastation.  To read the full letter, click on READ MORE. You can also find the full letter on our website:  Go to - click on the NEWS tab - click on Recent Postings]

Dear Friends and Supporters of Haitian Connection,

October 4, 2016 a devastating hurricane of enormous force, winds and torrential rains hit Jérémie and the greater  Grand’Anse  region.  Nothing like this has ever occurred here before, the last hurricane was seen in 1954. Close to 90% of the smaller houses with tin roofs have been completely destroyed.

Nobody escaped the devastation. Most people have lost everything, clothes, photographs, and what is more important birth certificates and other important documents. In other words, almost everybody starts at zero.Of course all lines of communication are inoperable, no electricity, no phone contact, no internet. So there is no way to find out if people are ok, or to let loved ones know nobody is hurt. Elections were to take place October 9, this coming Sunday, but the government already declared that elections will not take place. Another delay in a series of delays. Can Haiti ever move forward?

As far as the work of Haitian Connection, it remains to be seen what can be salvaged. We are fairly sure that the houses we built so far could not withstand this hurricane. But there is no way to find out until the roads are passable. So far neither motorcycles nor cars are able to pass, since the roads are blocked by fallen trees. Newsflash just in: 3 houses we just finished building in a new community have withstood the hurricane and they provided shelter during the storm for a number of people. Thank God for small -- or rather -- large miracles. We have not been able to get out to the university campus, but have heard reports that the whole campus is under water from the swollen river nearby. The tin roofs of the classrooms are gone, swept up by the winds. For those of you who have come as volunteer professors to UNOGA, you need to know that the guest house is no longer. The old structure could not withstand the gale force winds. The 2nd floor simply collapsed onto the first floor, 15 minutes after Reginald got the two remaining professors out. We will need to close the university until January.

Wednesday, 05 October 2016 14:24

Southern Regional Conference - 9/30 - 10/2/2016

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Part 1: What Happened – Descriptive View

The Southern Regional Affiliate Conference was held just outside of New Orleans in Metairie – September 30th – October 2nd.The Conference opened with a moving prayer and possession highlighting the four Affiliate pillars of Spirituality, Community, Action and Global Vision. For the remaining time, the diverse modes of presentation that followed spoke to the theme - Mission of Accompaniment: Walking Each Other Back Home.

Al Mirabal
Al Mirabal addresses group

On Friday evening, the keynote, given by the always-dynamic Matt Rousso, employed Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation Evangelii gaudium to develop the theme.He also regularly incorporated the wisdom from the group present to help concretely situate the theme of accompaniment in our own life experiences.Saturday morning opened up with an early morning Prayer Walk at the Lake (along the levy of Lake Ponchartrain adjoining the retreat ground where we were staying) followed by breakfast.Following breakfast, Jason and Felicia Gehrig, a former Maryknoll lay missioner couple who spent seven years in the Bolivian altiplano related their mission experience through a series of slides and very touching stories – some exhilarating, some heartbreaking and all somehow hopeful – that confirmed the importance of accompanying others wherever we find ourselves.

That afternoon a panel with Russ Feldmeier MM, Gerry Kelly MM and Bob Short spoke to the Affiliate movement vis-à-vis, respectively: the Maryknoll Society, the Third Wave initiative and the present-day Affiliate movement.The interchange with the participants that followed was especially fecund.Before dinner that evening, Lindsay Doucette of the MKLM gave an expansive overview of her work in recruitment and also talked about how it could connect with Affiliate initiatives.Louisiana gumbo was served for supper and, by all accounts from those natives in the know, was authentic and delicious. The evening featured a New Orleans Fais Do Do (I had to look that up too) and talent show wherein participant adorned with French Quarter beads and holding frilly umbrellas made semi-embarrassing attempts to show off their “dance” skills as they marched around the serving counter. Matt lit up the evening with Cajun Humor (Boudreaux jokes) while members from the North Texas Chapter put on a skit to honor Saint Thérèse of Lisieaux, whose feast was celebrated on the day.The Conference ended on Sunday with announcements, an evaluation and a Eucharistic celebration.

Part II: What Happened – A Deeper Look 

Sunrise on Lake Ponchartrain

Somewhere in his writings, Saint Francis of Assisi wrote that the Lord “…wants me to be a new kind of fool in the world…” Just a few minutes into gathering together as Maryknollers – seeing how the New Orleans Chapter welcomed all of us, the global and local issues that consumed us (and the consumer issues that didn’t), the wholehearted laughter that filled us, and, maybe even the simple dress that clothed us – gave some evidence that we too were aspiring towards the new fool in the world classification.  The advanced levels of insight, education, creativity and life experience don’t disqualify in this regard.

It was a small group of just 30 participants, but it was clear from the start that we were connected by and committed to the Maryknoll charism of accompanying (at home and cross-cultural settings) those who have little or no voice in our clamorous, disjointed world.  In Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home, he said this of Francis of Assisi: His response to the world around him was so much more than intellectual appreciation or economic calculus, for to him each and ever creature was a sister united to him by bonds of affection. (¶ 11).  That rings very true.

Finally, although many of us hadn’t met before, we soon realized that we were at home together.  New vocations are not flooding into any of the expressions within Maryknoll these days, but I couldn’t help but wonder if this would be reversed if new people – young or old – spent the weekend with us.  Perhaps that’s wishful thinking.  Minimally it couldn’t help but make heads turn and speed up the heartbeat a bit.   Of course, for those not from that region of the country, the grits, biscuits and gumbo couldn’t hurt either.


Sunday, 25 September 2016 00:25

Fr. John J. Walsh MM

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We received word today that  Father John J. Walsh MM passed away on Friday, September 23, 2016 at Saint Theresa's on the Maryknoll Campus.  John was a strong supporter of the Affiliate movement from the early days of its existence.  Agnes Walsh and Ginny McEvoy, both of the Long Island Chapter of which he was a member for many years, sent a few words of remembrance:

"Our beloved Father John Walsh, MM passed away this afternoon (Friday). He was a devoted member of the Long Island Maryknoll Affiliate Chapter for many years and was a resource for us since the beginning of the Affiliates.  Fr. John spoke at the first MAC at Maryknoll, Ossining, and, with his expansive vision, was always supportive of Affiliates.  He became a member of the LI Chapter when we met at the Father's house in Hempstead, NY and remained part of our group until illness necessitated his transfer to St. Theresa's." 

Please remember this good man in your thoughts and prayers.




Thursday, 15 September 2016 13:20

USCMA Conference

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Register Today!

2016 USCMA Conference

Together in Mission 

The United States Catholic Mission Association’s 2016 Conference will take place in the Cincinnati, Ohio region and is entitled: Together in Mission- Celebrating Concrete Expressions of Missionary Discipleship Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow. In honor of USCMA’s 35th Anniversary, the aim of USCMA’s 2016 conference will be to highlight the mission reality of US Catholics serving around the world and at home and reflect how these realities can help make our local communities a reflection of Jesus’ liberating spirit and how these expressions of mission will adapt in the coming years. 

To learn more go to:

Monday, 05 September 2016 14:08

In Our Son's Name

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In Our Son's Name is a remarkable tale of restorative justice and a moving portrait of resilience, courage, and the healing power of reconciliation. Insightful interviews, verité footage, and striking archival images create a subtle, profound story told with disarming candor – a response to violence that challenges conventional concepts of justice and healing.

The protagonists in this documentary, Phylllis and Orlando Rodriguez, whose son Greg perished in the attacks of 9/11, are friends of former Maryknoll Lay Missioners, Larry Rich and Susan Weissert.  Larry, who oversaw the Maryknoll Society's Media Department for many years and is now a media consultant-producer-writer, on several occasions also worked with the producer, Gayla Jamison. 

To see if the documentary is playing in your area on a local PBS station, go to

To watch a 5 minute trailer of the documentary, go to:




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