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Saturday, 21 November 2015 22:05

State of the Heart: Building Community & Furthering the Dialogue

Written by Ann Carr, David Schaffner
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State of the Heart Letter: Building Community & Furthering the Dialogue

Maryknoll Affiliate Board Meeting #56

David Schaffner, Board Chair & Ann Carr, Past Board Chair

Autumn Leaves"How, then, can communication be at the service of an authentic culture of encounter? What does it mean for us, as disciples of the Lord, to encounter others in the light of the Gospel? ... We are called to show that the Church is the home of all. Are we capable of communicating the image of such a Church? Communication is a means of expressing the missionary vocation of the entire Church ...to discover the beauty of faith, the beauty of encountering Christ."   Pope Francis    Message for 48th World Communication Day 2014

A Different Kind of Board Meeting

As fall leaves of gold, scarlet and orange filled the Hudson Valley, members of the Affiliate Board gathered for our fall Board meeting, October 25-27. Having discerned the need to begin our time together with a Board retreat, we were very blessed to have Jack Sullivan, MM, former Co-Coordinator and long-time companion of the Affiliate movement, as our retreat facilitator. You might ask, why now for a Board retreat? Our hope was to build cohesion among us as a group in order to develop our capacity to listen more deeply and to serve the entire Affiliate movement. Jack began our day with a beautiful meditative slide show, "In the Name of All That Is We Come Together," and challenged us to consider the call to create a leadership of the whole. This model of mission leadership, being explored throughout the Maryknoll world and beyond, invites all of us into a new way of being. Jack shared with us that a crucial first step in wholemaking is to move from discussion to dialogue. Dialogue requires that we become aware of our assumptions, examine them and move beyond individual understanding to group exploration from many points of view. When done authentically, dialogue invites us into mystery and allows us to get closer to that which is transformative.


The Affiliate Survey: What Have We Learned? Where Will This Take Us?

GrottoMoving from the important space of our retreat, we devoted much of this meeting to exploring the great abundance of the Affiliate survey. As mentioned in its introduction, our hope for the survey was to engage in dialogue with the wider Affiliate movement, and we were not disappointed! It was inspiring to see so many of you share your hopes and dreams for the future of the Maryknoll Affiliates. Our high participation rate and your thoughtful comments about what matters most to you revealed your deep commitment. We are very grateful to Rich Lessard and the committee for developing the survey and to Rich for collating a summary of everyone's responses. Vision was an area that seemed important to many Affiliates, so we focused particularly on this area with a view to taking action. Some of your responses:

Ø  A world wide community that will share dreams and problems, that will support each other, being connected and interested not only in the situation of his/her chapter, but also in the reality of other chapters in the region and around the world.

Ø  Look outward and connect to other movements in world and church (ecology, climate change, immigrant rights groups, groups opposing human trafficking, etc.).

Ø  Attracting younger members, which means honoring their state of consciousness, learning from them, and partnering accordingly.

Ø  We need to get creative in how Affiliates can "do" mission locally and overseas (short-term).  There is a thirst for short-term immersion trips.

Given the number of you that participated, the overwhelming amount of information and the richness of the responses, we realized that we were just beginning to discern the collective wisdom of the survey. We have developed ad hoc groups to address three broad areas where the energy of the Affiliates seemed to be moving:

Ø  Communication

Ø  Connection (includes Spirituality)

Ø  Growth & Sustainability (includes Youth)

Report Highlights: MEPD Report, EC Report and JML Update

Several very thoughtful reports, along with the survey, helped us to understand new directions of growth. John and Mary Moritz, after attending a collaborative Society MEPD (Mission Education Promotion Dept) meeting, reported that Affiliates are being invited to collaborate more fully, specifically in the area of US Church engagement.

Bob Short, in a very thoughtful and comprehensive Executive Coordinator report, described his day-to-day work as Executive Coordinator as well as providing some important insights on the Affiliate movement from his unique vantage point. Some hopeful signs he mentioned were the significant growth and commitment of our movement in Latin America, an upgraded formation program, the vibrancy and commitment of Affiliates, some success in attracting younger members to certain Chapters, and the wonderful quality of our newsletters. With the assistance of Mary Ryan Hotchkiss, Bob has updated the Affiliate databases. The fluidity of our movement has made it difficult to have a true sense of numbers, but the most recent count reveals 743 Affiliates (605 confirmed + 138 presumed).

JML Update: A New Experience of Affiliates as the Fourth Maryknoll Expression

An important new development for the Affiliates has been our inclusion as members of the Maryknoll Joint Meeting of Leadership (JML) beginning in 2015. Board Members Ann Carr, Rich Lessard, and Executive Coordinator Bob Short have served as the Affiliate team. (Affiliate Board members Margo Cambier, MKLM, Teruko Ito, MM, Norie Mojado, MM, and Russ Feldmeier, MM, also serve on the JML, representing their own entities.) This new experience has been very positive; the Affiliates are clearly integrated as full members of the JML even as we explore what it means to be joining the three Maryknoll entities as a fourth Maryknoll expression. Various JML updates were reported back to the Board, including:

Ø  Exploratory Collaborative Committee for Cuba - Joe Santos (LA) is the Affiliate rep.

Ø  Proposal for Mission Research, a Society initiative led by Steve Judd, MM, has invited Affiliate collaboration.

Ø  Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns (MOGC) Letters - The Affiliate Board Chair will be invited to sign on behalf of the Affiliates for Maryknoll group letters and on various public announcements.

New Board Members, New Executive Committee & New Chair

We were very pleased that Gerry Mulaney (NE-Ohio) and Ginny McEvoy (Long Island) will join our Board in the spring of 2016. Gerry and Ginny, strongly supported by their respective Chapters, bring unique gifts and have much to contribute to our Board efforts. A third candidate has been invited to serve on the Board and is still in discernment. The Board also strongly and enthusiastically affirmed Dave Schaffner as our new Board chair. On the Board since 2009, Dave brings a wealth of wisdom and experience. The Board has full confidence he will serve as a creative and dynamic leader. The Board Executive Committee will now be comprised of Dave Schaffner (CA Central Coast), Rich Lessard (Albany) and John Meyer (Phoenix).



Continuing the Dialogue, Creating a Culture of Encounter



As always, our time together was full, fruitful, and yet too short. We look forward to continuing to distill the wisdom harvested from the Affiliate survey. Again, Thank You, Thank You!! for all that you have contributed to making this a true dialogue and authentic experience of wholemaking! The honest and open sharing, the deep and abiding commitments of so many incredible people fills us with hope and gratitude for this wonderful fourth expression of the Maryknoll family. Please continue to dialogue with us and with one another as the various committees take their first steps. May we walk into our future together with a commitment to wholemaking that (in the words of the Maryknoll Sisters) "discovers God's energy all around us and celebrates our larger selves.”




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