Affiliate Board State of the Heart Letter: Mission and Wholemaking in a Time of Uncertainty
"I believe that the Maryknoll Affiliates are uniquely positioned to be carried into the future by this new wave of mission." John Sivalon, MM. "A New Wave: The Maryknoll Affiliates and Our Sacred Pilgrimage" MAC 2014. Stony Point, NY
Many challenging and grace filled moments are shaping the life of the Affiliate movement in this current time: our June MAC 2014 conference, the recent Maryknoll Society Chapter, Congregation General Assembly and the complexities of a world ranging from tragic wars in Syria to the inspiring leadership of Pope Francis. Aware of this unique moment, the Affiliate Board gathered October 17-19 to engage in a process of visioning, direction and needs assessment for the Affiliate movement. Our hope was that we might listen deeply and create a process inviting all Affiliates in Chapters to discern with us. Where and how do we see the Affiliate movement in this current time? What recent experiences within and beyond Maryknoll are shaping our future direction?
Affiliate Board Members
L-R (Top) Fr. Fr. Tom O'brien, John Meyer, Dave Schaffner, Patty Symkowick, Mary Massaro, Rich Lessard, Joe Symkowick (Bottom) Patty Barneond de Garcia Tres, Ann Carr, Margo Cambier.
We began with two very inspirational reports by Board member John Meyer and RC John Moritz, respective representatives to the Society Chapter and Sisters' GA. Each shared of their gratitude for the inspirational stories and courageous visioning of Maryknoll missioners who welcomed them to participate in their processes. From both the reports and preliminary documents, it is clear that a strong desire for collaboration with the Affiliates is emerging. We know this is already happening in some ways, but believe there will now be more opportunity and invitation.
Some of our questions for the Affiliate movement are: How might we hope to respond? What is our capacity to enter into mutual and life giving collaboration?
Reflecting on this, as well as our own recent experience at the MAC 2014 conference, we moved into the visioning process. Here, we were very fortunate to have Mary Ragan, a gifted facilitator and long time friend of Maryknoll accompany us. We attempted to: (1) understand the present reality of the Affiliates (how do we build relationships, local connections, collaboration? what are the ways in which our flexibility allows for initiative and creativity in the regions and Chapters? have we discerned the right balance of openness and structure? how do we embrace the gift of uncertainty? ), (2) open ourselves to recent events, new voices that are shaping us and (3) plan for steps into the future? For future steps we found ourselves asking: What do we want to say to the Chapters? What do we hope to hear and learn from them? How might we celebrate and challenge ourselves as a movement?
Emerging from this, we identified 4 focus areas that we would like to bring back to the Chapters:
1. Maryknoll Affiliate Identity - How do we understand the emerging identity of Affiliates as Maryknoll, ie the unique Affiliate expression of the Maryknoll Charism? How do we understand and strengthen our relationships as Affiliates to Affiliates, Affiliates to Maryknollers? To explore this further with you, we hope to create a two-fold process that will involve: an individual survey of self assessment and a Chapter discernment and reflection process. We very much hope this can be an opportunity for learning together who we are at this time. An ad hoc committee from the Board (Mary Massaro, Dave Schaffner, Rich Lessard, Joe Symkowick, myself) along with Bob Short will be developing this so please look for future communications from us.
2. The Regional Model - In 2011, we affirmed our experiment with the regional model as helping to strengthen and support local and regional connections. Three years later, we have been engaging in dialogue with the Regional Coordinators and also would like to hear from everyone re: strengths and challenges to the lived reality with the model. Is it working? Do we believe the model brings value? How do you see it enhancing the life of the Chapters and individual Affiliates?
C. Evaluation of MAC 2014/Exploratory Effort to plan for MAC 2017 - We spent significant time reviewing the composite evaluation of the June MAC 2014 conference. We were very impressed to see that 45% of attendees gave feedback! Wow, obviously the MAC continues to be a very meaningful event for Affiliates. We also began to explore various options for the MAC 2017 event. Thus far, 8 Chapters have offered to host MAC 2017 and a Board subcommittee ( Patty Barneond, Rich Lessard) along with Bob will begin to explore our possibilities.
D. Feedback from the Latin American Chapters - In reviewing feedback from MAC 2014 as input brought to us from Patty Barneond (Board Member from Guatemala), we were thoughtfully challenged by some of the Latin American Affiliates who believe the Affiliate movement is often US based and has a US way of being. The Board affirmed a strong desire for the Affiliates to be a truly global and integrated movement. We hope to seek together how we might connect more thoroughly with all Affiliates, whether they be in Latin America, Asia, Africa or the US. Please let us know how you think we should all work towards this.
We very much hope to be carried together with you into the future by a new wave of mission. May we be open to the Spirit and the surprises that await us.
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