[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 Maryknollaffiliates.org - 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
2016 USCMA Conference
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: http://uscatholicmission.org/togetherinmission
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 www.inoursonsname.com.
To watch a 5 minute trailer of the documentary, go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IKVihzDHDGc
The Affiliate movement produces two very formidable and worthwhile newsletters. The English language newsletter - No So Far Afield (NSFA) that many of you already receive; AND, No Tan Lejos Del Horizonte (NTLH). While the editors of each sometimes share stories and announcements, these are two separate publications with different content.
Seeking Global Community is our Affiliate vision statement. “Seeking” might not be the perfect verb (up until a few years ago, it was “Creating,” but that seemed a touch grandiose). Nevertheless, global community was and is at the heart of our intention.
So, we ask if the world today is more unified or less unified than it was yesterday? Is there a sense, if still faint, that we are a part of a wondrous whole, an integral, connected global community? The evidence for and against this supposition is abundant.
We launched the Affiliate Book Club about a month ago and chose Ilia Delio’s Making All Things New- Catholicity, Cosmology & Consciousness as our first book. When the planning team – Mary Ryan-Hotchkiss, Paula Schaffner and Bob Short – first thought of the book club, we anticipated that 6 to, optimistically, 10 might sign up. By the time we launched the first session, 41 had requested to join. It would be fun to speculate why so many latched onto this initiative – 1) Ilea Delio 2) interest in new cosmology 3) virtual community 4) following through on a New Year’s resolution to shut off the TV and read more 5) etc. – In the end, we don’t know, but are very encouraged by such a positive response.
We divided the full complement of participants into 3 groups on separate days and to date have covered three chapters of the book. Anything by Ilia Delio and authors like her is challenging. She speaks of quantum consciousness, evolution and emergence, Big Bang catholicity, Jesus and creative wholeness and much else. Nevertheless, what I found in the Friday group of which I am a part (and I’m sure this is true of the other two groups), is that all are enthused, engaged and, on an intuitive level, very much concur with what we are reading. I think that must have a lot to do with the life experience, faithfulness, interior center and developed critical sense of the participants
Essentially, like Teilhard de Chardin, Thomas Berry and others who came before her, Ilia speaks to us about a new paradigm for understanding our God, faith, Church and the human community. In the end, it might actually be a very old paradigm.
Ken Eppes, South Central Regional Coordinator, "Got to thinking" about talking points for 'Why I should be a Maryknoll Affiliate/Why I should form an Affiliate Chapter? He brought this to his Chapter in North Texas (Dallas/Fort Worth area) and they came up with the following talking points.
Can you think of others?
Being a Maryknoll Affiliate:
Sr. Peg Donovan, Director of Maryknoll Mission Institute, invites us to consider attending this important Mission Institute Program: EMBODYING THE OPTION FOR THE POOR which will be held July 17 – 22, 2016. Maria Teresa Davila is a dynamic presenter giving many talks to CALL FOR ACTION and in her teaching at Andover Newton.
Maryknoll Affiliates are eligible for 1/2 off the tuition charge.
Sr. Peg M. Donovan, MM
Maryknoll Mission Institute
P.O Box 311
Maryknoll, NY 10545-0311
(914) 941-0783 Ext.5671 (direct line)
(914) 941-7575 Ext. 5671