Maryknoll Affiliate News (257)

The latest news about the Maryknoll Affiliates

Sunday, 07 April 2019 20:40

Reflection on a Letter from Wilton

Written by

This article by Matt Rousso, Chapter Coordinator for the New Orleans Chapter, moves from a heart-filled encounter with a young Guatemalan boy, to a wide-ranging discussion on how Pope Frances has framed the issue of water. It's a powerful read. Note that the photo is of a Guatemalan boy, but not Wilton.  Click "Read More" below to read the entire article. (Bob Short)

     Wilton is a young unschooled boy who lives across the road from our community garden in the back corner of barrio Santa Ana in the town of Esquipulas, Guatemala. Wilton stays with his mother and father, in a very simple two room house – it has only one single light bulb hanging in the front room and a water faucet attached to a make-shift sink which seldom gives water. Because of drought during most of the year, the Municipality does not receive enough water from its source to give to all the inhabitants of Esquipulas, especially those who live on the outskirts. Wilton also has a 19 year old sister, Wendy, who lives in an adjacent structure with her 2 year old baby.

     During a recent mission immersion program in Santa Ana, I was working in the garden with eight of our seminarians from St. Joseph Seminary in Covington, La., along with Don Chencho, our gardener, and his young helper, Pablo. Several years ago we had to put in a hand-dug well in our garden because we could only get a little water from a nearby stream where women come daily to wash clothes. In the midst of the morning work, Wilton came walking up to me shyly and handed me a folded piece of paper, saying it was de mi papa. I opened the paper and read the scribbled Spanish note, having to decipher some of the words which were badly misspelled. The letter was a heartfelt plea for help!  “Dear brother Mateo and the other brothers. I make a cordial greeting in the name of Señor Jesús and our mother, always virgin María. The objective of the present (note) is to beg a favor that if you can give us water because my wife and children are dying of thirst because there is no water. Jesus says in his word that the one who gives a glass of water to these little ones makes it with me.  Signed: Catalino Vasquez, husband of Josefina Hernandez.”  We immediately made provisions to get water from the well for Catalino and his family.

     Since my return home, that moment in the garden has been in my mind and heart almost constantly. It has made me think a lot about water. I remembered that the first words of the Bible are about the presence of God in the waters of the earth:  “Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters” (Gen 1:2) And I’ve thought about the fact that before I was even born I lay in the waters of my mother’s womb for months. . In early March, the internet kept sending me messages about March 22nd being the day proclaimed by the UN and the Catholic Church as World Water Day. I learned a lot of random facts like: 

  • the human body is made of some 65 to 70 percent water
  • water covers 70.9 percent of the planet’s surface
  • 97% of the water on Earth is salt water; only 2.7 % is drinkable
  • $0.002 per gallon is the average cost of US municipal tap water - 1/3 of what the world

    spends on bottled water in one year could pay for projects providing water to 

    everyone in need

  • there is about the same amount of water on Earth now as was millions of years ago
  • unsafe water kills 200 children every hour
  • 2 billion people worldwide have limited access to clean water.
Monday, 01 April 2019 00:46

MKLM Strategic Planning

Written by



Maryknoll Lay Missioners is a Catholic organization inspired by the mission of Jesus to live and work with poor communities in Africa, Asia and the Americas, responding to basic needs and helping to create a more just and compassionate world.

In the last 2 years MKLM has engaged in a reflection on how to best live out its mission in the Church and society of today.  In March 2018, Maryknoll received the findings from a key organizational assessment that provides MKLM with a foundation to engage the future. 

During the Fall of 2018 the leadership of Maryknoll Lay Missioners agreed to take the next step in this visioning and assessment journey and to embark upon a strategic planning process to identify a vision and roadmap for the next three to four years.  Three strategic questions are guiding the discussion: 

  • Where are we now? 
  • Where do we need to be in the future to be effective in our mission? 
  • How do we get there? 

These questions seek to respond to the present realities impacting our organization, the realities facing our global sisters and brothers, the opportunities and challenges within the present lay missioner and volunteer environment, and the realities shaping faith communities, including Maryknoll as a whole. 

Effective planning is an opportunity to pause, reflect and assess our current reality and to identify strategic and tactical directions that will lead Maryknoll Lay Missioners forward to be a mission focused, effective and efficient ministry organization.


During the Fall the Board of Directors, the Global Council and national staff spent time reviewing and finalizing a process to guide this planning.  A steering committee was also formed to coordinate and guide the planning.  This group includes various MKLM stakeholders.

A key principle that emerged was the participation and ownership in the planning process of the many MKLM stakeholders, including missioners, receiving communities, alumni, donors and the Maryknoll fathers and brothers, sisters, and affiliates. 

During the month of April, we are hosting focus groups to be facilitated by our consultant for this process, Paul Henderson of Pastoral Strategies, Inc.  We invite you to join in a 90-minute confidential listening process to gain your insights from your own experiences and knowledge of Maryknoll Lay Missioners in recent years. Paul will be at Maryknoll on April 3-4 and again in May which is yet to be determined.  Coffee, tea and snacks will be provided. 

                 Claudia Samayoa

At the beginning of last week, Rosa Beatriz, Affiliate Board member from the Guatemala Chapter, emailed me requesting the name of someone in the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns (MOGC) who might be able to respond to an urgent request. That request was for Affiliate Chapter member, Claudia Samayoa, who, along with José Martínez, had been maliciously accused by the President of the Guatemala Supreme, seeking to criminalize her work in Human Rights.  Claudia, whom many of you reading this met at MAC 2017, and who recently received special recognition for her work in human rights, was faced with the possibility of being incarcerated. 

There is a second, revealing aspect to this story that I believe should make us proud to be part of the Maryknoll family.  Shortly after receiving the details of the situation from Rosa Beatriz (the Guatemala Chapter had already drafted a strong, thoughtfully worded document in protest to the Supreme court’s stance) I wrote to the other Maryknoll entities to make them aware that we as Affiliates were looking to initiate an action in support of Claudia and José. Seemingly within minutes after clicking 'send' on the email, at least one person from each entity had responded to express support.  Soon MOGC Executive Director Susan Gunn and her staff put an action plan in motion.  Susan laid out a 3-prong strategy:   

  1. Draft a letter to Pompeo at State Dept. and ask the Maryknoll entities and the Affiliates to sign on.
  2. Invite other organizations to join us in sending a letter to the Ambassador of Guatemala in D.C. [Affiliates have signed on. The list of organizations who have signed on is already long.]
  3. Create an action alert inviting the public to send a message to the State Dept and the ambassador. [In the works.]

At this writing, the final outcome is still pending for Claudia and José.  Rosa Beatriz informed me that Claudia’s father, who had been gravely ill, passed away few days ago. Please be alert for action alerts to sign and pray for Claudia, José and the dire situation in Guatemala.

Sunday, 24 March 2019 14:30

The Interim Time

Written by

In the early stages of planning for MAC 2020, the phrase, “The Interim Time” has surfaced recurrently. We on the MAC planning team anticipate that this notion will be incorporated on some level into the Conference in June of 2020.  Similar phrases to name that phenomenon are: the middle time, the in-between time and, simply, chaos – probably because at least a bit of disorder is inevitable when the world is undergoing a major transition; and, before order is restored.  

In his poem, For the Interim Time (full version follows below) the Irish poet John O’Donohue wrote:

The old is not old enough to have died away;

The new is still too young to be born.

Essentially, it is a time when the prevailing paradigm is dying off and a new one is being born.  Even if we cannot fully understand it, we are seeing evidence of it all around us… in our understanding of global relationships, of Church, of government, of quantum science, of social consciousness, even of God.  It has and will continue to impact so many areas of our individual lives as well as the on-going development of the Affiliate Movement.  For sure, living in this interim time can make for anxious moments.  Thankfully, in the last three lines of the poem, O’Donohue assures us of a hopeful outcome if we remain faithful.

“For the Interim Time”

 When near the end of day, life has drained

Out of light, and it is too soon

For the mind of night to have darkened things,

No place looks like itself, loss of outline

Makes everything look strangely in-between,

Unsure of what has been, or what might come.

In this wan light, even trees seem groundless.

In a while it will be night, but nothing

Here seems to believe the relief of darkness.

You are in this time of the interim

Where everything seems withheld.

The path you took to get here has washed out;

The way forward is still concealed from you.

“The old is not old enough to have died away;

The new is still too young to be born.”

You cannot lay claim to anything;

In this place of dusk,
Your eyes are blurred;

And there is no mirror.

Everyone else has lost sight of your heart

And you can see nowhere to put your trust;

You know you have to make your own way through.

As far as you can, hold your confidence.

Do not allow confusion to squander

This call which is loosening

Your roots in false ground,

That you might come free

From all you have outgrown.

What is being transfigured here in your mind,

And it is difficult and slow to become new.

The more faithfully you can endure here,

The more refined your heart will become

For your arrival in the new dawn.

John O’Donohue, from To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings, 2008

Monday, 18 March 2019 00:42

Question of The Month #2 (QTM#2)

Written by

SEE PREVIOUS POST ON QTM # 1 [Note: post on QTM #1 might appear after this post on your computer]


Question of the Month #2 – “What (who) is a Maryknoll Affiliate?”

Maryknoll Affiliate leadership continues its interest in creating ways for Affiliates to connect with each other and with other Maryknollers. It is our desire to strengthen the bonds of our Affiliate movement and to create opportunities for dialogue at all and among all levels of Affiliate membership. We hope all Affiliates share in this desire and will participate in this "Question of the Month (QTM)" initiative.

The purpose of the QTM is twofold. The first is to provide a forum for dialogue. Not only does leadership need to engage and hear from Affiliates, but it is equally important for Affiliates to engage and hear from each other. The QTM is just one way for Affiliates to do this. Secondly, we hope that through this dialogue, we can all (Affiliates and leadership) become better informed about our movement and will ultimately give each of us a part in guiding, supporting and strengthening the Affiliate movement.

Each month, a "Question of the Month" will be included in a Monday Morning Affiliate Update. These updates are e-mailed to all Affiliates who have their e-mail addresses on file. Included will be a link to the previous month’s QTM and responses. If Affiliates in your Chapter do not receive the Updates, please forward this Update to them and encourage them to sign up at this link: Also, please share with members without internet access at your next Chapter meeting.

This month’s QTM is below. You can complete the form below or click on the link to bring you to the Google form. All submissions are anonymous, unless you wish to have your name and contact information included, which you can provide in the designated text box.

It is our intent and hope that QTMs will come from individual Affiliates or Chapters. The questions are equally as important as the responses to them are. So, following the question, you also have an opportunity to suggest another question that will be considered for a future QTM. If you wish to have your name published along with the QTM that is used, please enter your name in the designated text box provided.

We thank the Affiliates who participated in last month’s QTM - “What ideas can you share on practical or creative ways that Affiliates can best connect to one another and to other Maryknollers in order to strengthen the bonds of the Maryknoll Affiliate movement?” A summary of responses can be found here (hyperlink to file). 

We look forward to and thank you for your participation in helping to make the Maryknoll Affiliate movement stronger.
What (who) is a Maryknoll Affiliate? *
Other Affiliates may be interested in contacting you to follow up and learn more about your response. Please enter your name and contact information, if you are interested in being contacted:
If you're interested in suggesting a future "Question of the Month" for consideration, please enter it here:
If you wish to have your name published along with a future "Question of the Month" that is used, please enter your name here:
Never submit passwords through Google Forms.
Friday, 15 March 2019 17:34

Question of the Month (QTM) #1

Written by

Question of the Month #1

What Ideas can you share on practical or creative ways that Affiliates can best connect to one another and to other Maryknollers in order to strengthen the bonds of the Maryknoll Affiliate movement?

Visit Affiliate chapters

 At Regional and National meetings

Our Chapter choses themes for the year to increase our awareness and to focus our meetings and actions. It would be great to know what other Chapters have done around our themes. This year they are prison reform and Care for the Earth, particularly as it unfolds in Monrovia with the Maryknoll Sisters Community and Pando Populus.

Prayer requests

Our Greater Los Angeles Chapter has chosen two themes for action this year--prison reform and Care for the Earth. It would be helpful to hear from others in the Maryknoll Affiliate community what actions they have taken in these areas that we might consider. This approach could be considered whatever actions a Chapter or individual Affiliates are exploring. [Submitted by Hugh Menton, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.]

  • "Why do we want to strengthen the bonds of the Maryknoll Affiliate movement?
  • How to communicate if we do not speak the same language?
  • How to communicate if we live in different continents?
  • What do we have to change to promote this connection?
  • Why not to promote more the web page? An invitation to all to participate?
  • If this is a good idea!!! Who will be in charge in keeping it alive and let us know the results and make it work?

Instead of answers I formulate more questions to make us think and then the idea will come. Thank You!!!" [Submitted by Rosa Beatriz Castañeda de Larios, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ]

Form small groups that share email questions and responses that deal with their faith and actions. [Submitted by Larry Griffin]

Have a regional meeting/conference at least once a year in each region. The Portland chapter's "Non Violence Training and Regional Conference" in Nov.2018 is a good example.  [Submitted by Manny Hotchkiss, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ]

I believe you have enough data on the Affiliate movement in USA and around the world. For those who use cell phones and have WhatsApp it could be possible to connect to one another on personal issues. I suggest to create Chats of 12 participants of different parts of USA, including Latin America.  [Submitted by Rosa María de León, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., WhatsApp 502 59660232]


Friday, 15 March 2019 17:24

Conversation Initiative

Written by

Hello Affiliates,

         Rich Lessard

Last Fall, by way of introducing myself as the new Chair of the Affiliate Board, I wrote an article sharing some of my initial thoughts about the Maryknoll Affiliates.  In it I emphasized the importance of what I think are two necessary characteristics of a successful movement; connection and communication.  Board members and Regional Coordinators have begun a number of initiatives to address and strengthen these.  These are equally and importantly directly related to key responsibilities of the Affiliate Board.  Namely:

  • to discover and embrace the wisdom and ever emerging life of the Affiliate movement, and
  • to engage in deep listening with the wider Affiliate movement

I think anyone would agree it would be quite difficult to come close to achieving these without connection and communication, especially considering the nature and loose structure of the Affiliates.  With that said, however, to be successful will require effort and commitment of both Affiliate leaders and members.  It will require dialogue.

To honor my personal commitment in this effort, I wish to continue in an experiment of having monthly conversations with a small group of Affiliates.  All Affiliates are invited to participate.  If you are reading this; you are invited.  These conversations will be conducted using either the Affiliate conference call number via telephone or over the internet using either Zoom video conferencing or Skype.  I would expect the conversations to be free-flowing and limited in duration to no more than 1-1/2 hours.  Again, the purpose of these conversations is just one attempt for leadership to listen to and be engaged with the wider Affiliate movement.

I think for these conversations to be manageable, effective and meaningful, they will be limited to no more than 4 participants (including myself) at a time.  So, the first 3 interested Affiliates to respond will be asked to participate in the next conversation.  I will do my best to arrange a date and time that is convenient for all.  Any Affiliate not able to participate in this next conversation will have the opportunity to participate in the next one if they wish. 

So, if you are interested in participating in this experimental experience, please e-mail me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by Monday, March 25.  

Let’s have morning coffee or perhaps even a nightcap together!

Blessings.........Rich Lessard


Excerpt from: A New Wave: The Maryknoll Affiliates and our Sacred Pilgrimage  (John Sivalon MM – MAC 2014)

          John Sivalon MM

“Earlier, I stated my belief that the Maryknoll Affiliates are well positioned to be carried into the future by this new wave of mission. I believe this because the processes of globalization, the sense of emergent reality and other social dynamics have brought about what some call the “death of society” or the “death of institutions.” Today, institutions are valued based upon their usefulness and not on any supposed intrinsic value. And therefore, people will be less likely to commit themselves to an institution as such. Rather, the future lies with small bands of brothers and sisters mutually empowering and nourishing one another in the struggle to create global humanization without forcing homogenization.

The vitality of the Affiliates, going into the future, will be dependent upon your ability to remain a movement. A fluid, open and flowing movement not restricted by rules, regulations and constitutions and not neurotically concerned about your own self-preservation. But a movement based upon a general vision expressing values associated with the new wave: oneness, or global solidarity and diversity, or empowering encounter or inclusion.

The Affiliates’ openness to including members of other faiths or no faith is a unique freedom of expression that the institutional and hierarchical entities of the Maryknoll family do not possess. This act in itself is a manifestation of understanding by under-standing which is so much a part of mission as mutual empowerment. It is touching the hands of the other; it is allowing the same water of life to run over each other’s’ hands enlivening ourselves and the other: we are one in the same movement.

The vision of the movement is that we be one in justice, equality, dignity and respect. The future of the movement also lies in its authenticity in not only accepting of the other but seeking to eradicate all that impedes oneness. This includes challenging the very premises upon which capitalism, patriarchy and discrimination are based.  We are not autonomous individuals who define the other and assert power over the other. We are intimately tied to one another, mutually defining one another.”

Sunday, 03 March 2019 02:46

MOGC - Announcement of Director Transition

Written by

Due to sudden illness, former Director of the Maryknoll Office of Global Concerns (MOGC) Gerry Lee has stepped down and Susan Gunn has been named the new Director.  To read more about Gerry and Susan, click on this link:


Sunday, 03 March 2019 02:04

Fred Goddard - Recent Connection

Written by

Fred and Jet have been living and working in the Philippines for well over six years now.  Still, their names surface often among the many Affiliates who came to know them in the more than 10 years that Fred was in Affiliate leadership. In a recent conversation with Fred, he suggested that, to reenergize the chapters there, it would probably make good sense to combine the individual chapters into one "Philippine Chapter".  He has begun to work towards that realization. 

Beyond his heavy work load, I've included two other areas of commitment in which Fred has been involved:

  1. My main “spare time” activity has been with a small group of people concerned about the situation in the Philippines and the ongoing killings. Our approach, though, has been one where we try not to take a political stand, but promote human dignity and life. On February 16, we had our third annual “Reclaiming Valentine’s Day” where we go to the local city jail and invite others to celebrate the day and remember the real work of St. Valentine’s with prisoners. It is also an attempt to get people to see the human face of those in jail mostly for drug crimes. Sadly, just yesterday, four inmates (now referred to as persons deprived of liberty or PDLs) were killed in an early morning raid by the police to search for drugs in the jail. It is a mystery to me why any PDL would resist heavily armed police when they are right inside the jail already.
  2. Fred also wrote that, "On another note, I started an online petition (see link below) to make a little difference in the climate change debate. Not too many people have signed it, which was kind of disappointing, but if you get a chance to sign this at pass it on, please do:


Page 3 of 19