The new year beckons. Are we open to change? Will our actions and words change us, or others?
On our cover, Evelyn Brush experiences Radical Hospitality and says she is forever changed. Seattle Affiliates learn that racism cripples all of us, but that the words and actions of the transformational values of abundance, transparency and collaboration could change unjust systems.
Pope Francis’ new peace prayer urges communication with new words and actions as the way to peace. Our executive coordinator, Bob Short offers the possibility of a deeper knowing with wordless contemplation, as does a new virtual chapter.
Articles in this issue:
Border Crossing - "I had been truly out of my element."—Evelyn Brush
Building the Beloved Community: Racism and Beyond - "As Christian Americans seeking justice, we need to face up to our role in racism."—Kitty Schiltz
The Inspiration for Chapter Companions - "Now we are working to get the word out to all chapters, wherever they are, that they can have a Maryknoller as a companion."—Mary Moritz
The Blessings of Companionship - "There is such potential in the Companions program to add to the richness of the Affiliate experience."—Gerry Mullaney
Houston Chapter’s Maryknoll Affiliate Mission - "It was obvious that the Holy Spirit sent the right people with the right skills to get the job done."—Judy Horstman
Sustaining Huruma - "So many awe-inspiring developments in the past year!"—Bertha Haas
Easy Meeting—Global Vision – "Over our meal, we had many conversations with each other about our global connections."—Mary Ryan-Hotchkiss
Nicaragua: Speaking Truth to Power - "No one could have imagined the catastrophic changes about to emerge."—Kitty Madden
Learn more about your Maryknoll Affiliate Board and Executive Coordinator in these articles:
Knowing in the Wordless Spaces - Jim Coady insightfully added that almost always, “We learn more from experiences than from documents.”
A Presence with Past Connections – "Because of my interest in our Affiliate movement, I am happy to be one of the liaisons to the Maryknoll Affiliates."—Sr. Norie Mojado, MM
And be sure to enjoy the Features in this issue:
If you are more comfortable reading the Not So Far Afield in its print form, you may download a pdf of the January/February 2019 issue.
A presentation on human trafficking I attended was both informative and disturbing. Thankfully, the presenters included a list of actions and opportunities if we wanted to be more involved. One opportunity was at Rahab’s Sisters.
Rahab’s Sisters, a safe space for women to gather each Friday night, offers dinner, time off the street or away from ‘boyfriends,’ and needed supplies: socks, underwear, and hygiene items. It operates out of Sts. Peter and Paul Episcopal Church in Portland, Oregon. Volunteers serve the female guests (and those who self-identify as female), most of whom are unhoused and over 45 years old. Some are prostitutes; many are addicts, and many are women of color.
Rahab’s Sisters emphasizes Radical Hospitality. Their vision is a city where all women are safe from physical and sexual exploitation. They offer a warm, safe environment with nutritious food, hot coffee, and conversation. From 7-10 in the evening, it is a place for women helping women, whatever the guest’s condition. Actively using drugs is discouraged, but “Our sisters are welcomed without judgment, no strings attached.” (https://rahabs-sisters.org)
The Affiliate Book Group resumes April 2019!
Come join us. We suggest reading and discussing ~
edited by Marie Dennis
and time for a weekly telephone conversation, and any
additional books or authors you’d like us to consider.
How do you participate in your chapter?
Your chapter appreciates your involvement!
In November, instead of their usual meeting, seven Seattle Affiliates attended the Intercommunity Peace & Justice Center’s workshop by that name. It was presented by two Notre Dame Sisters who work with Pax Christi: Patricia Chappell, Executive Director, and Anne Louis Nadeau, Director of Programs. This dynamic duo presented a fast-paced exposé of racism—its history and effects. They defined racism as America’s original sin against people of color, including those of African, African-American, Caribbean, Latino, or Middle Eastern ancestry.
In groups, we discussed why talking about racism is taboo among white people and how we identify ourselves as white. Our group had a mixture of people of color and white. It came down to the belief that white people, mostly in denial of their role in racism, feel shame, fear, or pain when discussing it. White privilege is both conscious and unconscious. Racism combines personal racial prejudice and the misuse of power by systems and institutions.
Come - move your feet,
Take that step
subdue that fear of being
different uncomfortable vulnerable.
Being a stranger goes both ways –
through the threshold of this hut/home
new worlds open
Karibu, calls -
what do you hear?
what do you do?
*a Swahili greeting of welcome in East Africa
At their most recent gathering of the first virtual chapter*, members spontaneously surfaced the thought that maybe there are just too many words attached to almost everything these days… dishonest political words, manipulative marketing words, sanctimonious religious words, ego words that compare, compete, connive, contrast, contrive and, perhaps the biggest offenders, all those unsettling words and scenarios that incessantly play out in our heads. Understandably, some of you reading this might be feeling that this article is itself quickly becoming an offender in this verbosity plague.
Words are important. Poetic, truthful words, and others like, thank you, forgive me, I love you, whoops, and, for carnivores, medium rare, surely have a place. Still, we haven’t done very well at sticking to the good words. How can we best get hold of all this?
Over-explanation separates us
from astonishment. – Eugene Ionesco
As the conversation evolved, we talked (admittedly, in words) about those wordless spaces – walking in the forest, standing by the ocean, listening to music, sitting in a chapel, holding a newborn – wherein peace washes over us and we come to know in a different, peaceful and compelling way. You too might be tempted to add to the list. Hopefully, neither Chardonnay nor Merlot would get many honest votes in this regard.
Mostly, our time together focused on how each of us has come to a place of deeper knowing. Jim Coady insightfully added that almost always, “We learn more from experiences than from documents.” Although not physically present in this virtual community, Richard Rohr helped us out when he wrote that, “Knowing is the empty space around the words, allowing God to fill in all the gaps in an ‘unspeakable’ way.” That could serve as a definition for faith.
From a distance, all this might seem a bit fuzzy and/or dense. Even that characterization will be euphemistic for some. Still, as 2019 begins to unfold and all of us in Maryknoll strive to live with integrity, love, and groundedness in these very uncertain, noisy times, we can gain strength and courage by visiting these wordless spaces. I think that those in the Contemplative Virtual Chapter would concur.
*Currently, three chapters meet virtually: one of Affiliates who've moved, the Contemplative Virtual Chapter, and an international chapter.
Lord, make us instruments of your peace.
Help us to recognize the evil latent in a communication that does not build communion.
Help us to remove the venom from our judgements.
Help us to speak about others as our brothers and sisters.
You are faithful and trustworthy; may our words be seeds of goodness for the world:
where there is shouting, let us practice listening;
where there is confusion, let us inspire harmony;
where there is ambiguity, let us bring clarity;
where there is exclusion, let us offer solidarity;
where there is sensationalism, let us use sobriety;
where there is superficiality, let us raise real questions;
where there is prejudice, let us awaken trust;
where there is hostility, let us bring respect;
where there is falsehood, let us bring truth.
On a Friends Across Borders (FAB) trip in Tanzania, we listened to Maryknoll Lay Missioner Liz Mach and those being helped at Bugando Medical Center in Mwanza. After hearing their stories and the wonderful work of Liz and others at the hospital, my friend Kathy turned to me and said, “We are with saints.”
The new Maryknoll Affiliates Companions program can provide Affiliate chapters and companions an opportunity to be with saints over time and space far exceeding a short FAB visit and a single hospital tour. And, by the way, the saints can also include our sisters and brothers worldwide with whom Maryknollers walk.
There is such potential in the Companions program to add to the richness of the Affiliate experience. This can take the form of spiritual wisdom, support, and guidance from a Father, Brother, Sister or Lay Missioner. It can also expand our global awareness of the struggle and the witness in Maryknoll mission sites worldwide. Then there is the potential for larger action on the part of Affiliate chapters, whether locally or globally, as we continue to do our best to advance God’s kingdom in the world.
As an Affiliate Regional Coordinator, I travel to Maryknoll in Ossining, NY, at least once a year to attend a joint Regional Coordinator/Board Meeting. Every time I go there, I am struck by the wisdom and grace that I find in the Maryknollers who are there. Just one example of this is my second cousin, Fr. Frank “Pancho” Higdon, a Maryknoll Priest now residing there. It is always a joy for me to spend time with him. We both get energized by the sharing of our ideas and experiences.
At the Affiliate Board Meeting that I attended in October, we split into small groups for discussion and planning purposes. Each small group was invited to develop an idea to test—a prototype–that might bless the Affiliate movement. In our small group, I shared that I would like to develop a program that might allow all Affiliate chapters to benefit from the great wisdom that Maryknollers have. Some chapters, like mine in Florida, didn’t have any such connection. I believed that both the Maryknollers and the chapters would benefit greatly from more frequent sharing.
My hope is that connections will be made around the world between Maryknoll Affiliates and the missioners with whom we share the Maryknoll charism.—Paula Schaffner
My group—Ralph Maughan, Jean Menton, Gerry Mullaney, Paula Schaffner, and I—drafted a plan for a Chapter Companions Program, for which we agreed to be the core team. This program allows chapters to ask for a Maryknoller to be their companion. A chapter and its companion could communicate by email, phone, mail, WhatsApp, or Skype. If possible, the companion could visit the chapter.
Depending on their time and energy, a chapter companion could provide a chapter with an opening or closing prayer, or give them information on a topic to discuss at a meeting. Perhaps the companion could sometimes join the meeting, possibly by Skype. The chapter coordinator might want to ask the companion for advice relative to a chapter issue. The companion could pray for the chapter, and the chapter could pray for the companion. The hope would be that this mutual relationship would bloom and grow, and be meaningful and enriching to all concerned.
As of mid-December, the Sisters, the Priests and Brothers, and the Lay Missioners have all agreed to participate. We are excited about the positive response we have received! Now we are working to get the word out to all chapters, wherever they are, that they can have a Maryknoller as a companion. Some chapters already have a Maryknoller who is actively involved with them. We hope that these chapters will “sign on” also, and just let us know about their existing chapter companion.
On Sunday, November 11, ten Affiliates, along with our own Father Gerry Kelly, MM, gathered in Brazoria County, Texas, to answer the call of the poor. Brazoria County is south of Houston, and, like Houston, was heavily impacted by the flooding associated with Hurricane Harvey. Paula & Dave Schaffner came from California, Mary & John Moritz from Florida, Bob Short from Connecticut, Ron Guidry from New York, and Fr. Gerry, Bob & Ruth Kleeman, and Judy & Dick Horstman from Houston.
This has been a busy year for us, with involvement in several issues, but also a time for celebration.
Having served nine years in Tanzania as a Maryknoll Lay Missioner, I return annually to visit my favorite project, Huruma, a Special Education Unit. This year I visited in August. As we start a new school year here, Huruma students are well into their second semester. So many awe-inspiring developments in the past year!
Beginning January 2019, five elementary schools in our district have been selected to begin inclusion of students with disabilities. At least fifteen Huruma deaf and/or physically impaired students in grades 4-7 will begin attending classes at Pasiansi Elementary School, enthusiastically welcomed by the Head Teacher.
Training in life skills is now possible because of a donor-built wall keeping out the goats, cows and careless passersby. The garden begun in April survived the dry season, providing greens for the students’ daily meal, as well as food for their families, with enough left for sale. Avocado trees and flowers flourish. The seven tire swings bring joy to the students. It was great to see teachers take students outside for instruction.
In addition to the gardening program, parents are promoting a peanut butter industry. Carpentry is picking up again. Perhaps tailoring will be able to resume also.
My heart overflows with gratitude for the dedicated staff at Huruma and our generous donors who make it possible.
The one sad spot is that staff did not receive a raise in July to offset inflation. To remedy that, it’s imperative that we have a successful Taste of Tanzania on February 16, 2019. Can’t attend? Participate by sending your donation to Huruma Chapter KILEO, PO Box 244, Cornelius, OR 97113.
The Maryknoll Affiliate Pillars of Spirituality, Community, Global Vision, and Action are all great topics for an Affiliate meeting, especially when inviting new people who may not know much about Maryknoll.
At our Affiliate luncheon on the last day of the Northwest Mission Nonviolence mini regional conference, we invited visitors to join us and we focused on the Maryknoll Affiliates’ pillar of Global Vision. To emphasize Global Vision, we planned our meal to have a Middle Eastern flavor.
Catherine “Kitty” Madden has lived and worked in Nicaragua since 1986, first as a Maryknoll Lay Missioner, then as a Maryknoll Affiliate. Read her unabridged article at https://maryknollogc.org/article/nicaragua-speaking-truth-power.
In August, we gathered to mourn the death of our neighbor, “Juan,” killed by a sniper who fired on a peaceful protest, and to share our sympathies with his mother, wife, and children.
Just last April, Nicaragua was still hailed as “the most peaceful country in Central America.” Many people entered the country each day, to provide humanitarian aid, to enjoy its beauty and the people’s warm hospitality or to invest in its thriving economy. On the surface, things seemed quite perfect! However, just as with its volcanoes, something very charged was growing beneath the surface. No one could have imagined the catastrophic changes about to emerge.
In 32 years, I lived under the revolutionary Sandinista government in the 1980s. The FSLN (Sandinista national liberation front) had toppled the dictator Anastasio Somoza and his family dynasty in an insurrection that claimed 50,000 lives. In the 1980s, I anguished at the US backing (if not instigation) of the Contra War that ended in 1990, after taking another 30,000 lives and maiming thousands of others.