One of my favorite books is Kitchen Table Wisdom, by Rachel Naomi Remen, a medical doctor who, as she puts it, listens to people’s stories. She writes, “Everybody is a story. When I was a child, people sat around kitchen tables and told their stories. We don’t do that so much anymore. Sitting around the table telling stories is not just a way of passing time. It is the way the wisdom gets passed along. The stuff that helps us to live a life worth remembering… Real stories take time. We stopped telling stories when we started to lose that sort of time, pausing time, reflecting time, wondering time.”
I am now in a new life phase. In the last three years, I have moved that many times, including a frustrating eight months in a furnished house which was intended to be a 2-3-month stop between selling my house and moving back to Minnesota. I sat on furniture and slept in a bed that weren’t mine, surrounded by cardboard boxes that contained the familiar things of my past life. What had been intended as a short-term fix turned into an isolating, frustrating year.
Now I live in what will likely be my last home—a small rental cottage in a senior community in Rochester, NY. It is a city where I know a few people and where I hope to be able to pay the rent if I happen to live as long as my ancestors. However, it is an additional two hours away from old friends in the New Jersey Affiliate Chapter, whom I have tried to see once a year for the last 15 years, and six to seven hours away from happenings at Maryknoll.
So, in many ways it feels like my “telling-stories-time” is on the back burner, but not because I don’t have the “pausing time, the reflecting time, the wondering time” of which Remen writes. The task now is to seek like-minded people who are willing to sit around kitchen tables to tell me their stories and to listen to mine.
It is difficult, as one grows older, to make new relationships, and yet it is necessary, given the steady loss and erosion of long-time friends whose stories I knew so well and whose lives had intersected with mine for so many years.
These are some of my musings when I read in NSFA that Affiliates have been discussing a book they have read in common. I must confess this doesn’t hold much appeal for me. A virtual community, however, could be another matter—a sharing with others of my clumsy attempts to integrate into a new space and a new and confusing city, and of my attempts to be of service to others in a new way. I might like to tell them about my four Syrian women refugees who speak only enough English to respond to “What is your name?” (How I hope, someday, to listen to their stories!) And I’d like to hear others’ stories about how they continue to find ways to feel, and be, relevant—not just as a person but particularly as an older Affiliate.
In Seattle, Fr. Tom Marti, MM, and Anna Clarke Johnson,
Team Leader for the Western Region,
Maryknoll US Mission Education
Connections. The Seattle Chapter makes a point of maintaining contacts with missioners in the field and contributing to mission efforts. Ralph Maughan (Western Region Co-coordinator) will be connecting with Br. Tim Raible, MM, and Br. John Beeching, MM, in Bangkok, Thailand, in early 2017. For many years, Br. Tim was assigned to mission promotion from the Seattle Maryknoll House, where the Seattle Chapter meets.
On their way to visit family, Affiliate Board Chair David Schaffner and his wife, NSFA co-editor Paula, enjoyed a newsy lunch with California Regional Coordinators Hugh and Jean Menton and other Los Angeles Chapter Affiliates. Kathee Bautista is working on a human trafficking project, and Richard Perez talked of his long-time ties to Maryknoll.
The Sierra Club has revived its midwinter, midnight walk among the homeless of Skid Row, and many LA Chapter members plan to join them. As a new member of the Los Angeles Chapter, Jean Minton had written about the walk in the March/April 2013 NSFA article, “LA – Sierra Club Skid Row Walk,” p. 5.
A review of Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right, by Arlie Russell Hochschild, The New Press, New York, 2016.
For the last five years, Arlie Russell Hochschild, a sociology professor from Berkeley, listened to, observed, and became friends with the people in the Louisiana bayou—Tea Party country. Her sociological study provides insight into the almost inevitable election of Trump. In her words, the political climate was “like a pile of dry kindling waiting for a spark to ignite it.” Hochschild’s stories flesh out her exhaustive study of the Louisiana bayou people who live in a very petrochemically polluted, poverty-riddled area.
We may feel really good living in our little isolated bubble. But there are many bubbles, large and small. How big is our family? We feel good when we are within our bubble, but Professor Hochschild’s study asks us to go outside our comfort bubble and be with others.
Strangers in Our Own Land speaks to a missioner’s approach when entering another culture. Quoting Max Warren, of The Church of Ireland Missionary Society, “Our first task in approaching another culture, another religion, is to take off our shoes, for the place we are approaching is holy. Else we may find ourselves treading on other peoples dreams. More serious still, we may forget that God was here before our arrival.”
Fr. Russ Feldmeier, MM, is on the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers’ General Council and represents the Society on the Affiliate Board. He reminisced that in 1992, as the Affiliates were forming, he was named to the Affiliate Board, even before there was an Affiliate on the Board! After many years on mission in Korea, he has returned for visits. In 2015, Fr. Russ was able to be present at the Covenant signing of the Korean Affiliate Chapter.
Were you associated with the Maryknoll Affiliates 25 years ago? We’d like to share your reminiscences during our year of celebration!
If your copy of the appeal letter has disappeared, it is available here: Appeal Letter - 2017
The last day to sign up is January 7. See Book Club Session 2 SIGN UP SHEET
As a powerful way to start the new year, consider taking Pax Christi’s vow of nonviolence, available at: https://paxchristiusa.org/resources/vow-of-nonviolence/
The Mission Institute will offer a dozen programs during 2017, beginning with the following:
May 7-12 Michael Morwood, MA
(Sun – Fri) Whatever Happened to Jesus?
May 14-19 Barbara Fiand, SNDdeN, PhD
(Sun – Fri) Come, Drink Deep of Living Waters
May 21-26 Edwina Gateley, MA
(Sun – Fri) Mystics, Rebels, Prophets and You!
June 4-9 Janet K. Ruffing, RSM, PhD
(Sun – Tue) Nature and Poetry as Openings to the Mystical
June 11-16 Gail Worcelo, CP, MA
(Sun – Fri) Momentum of Grace: The Deepening of Being in a World of Becoming
June 18-23 Elias Omondi Opongo, SJ, PhD
(Sun – Fri) Structures of Sin and Personal Conversion Towards Social Transformation
The complete 2017 schedule is available at https://maryknollsisters.org/maryknoll-mission-institute-2/.
You may register online, or to obtain application forms—
Write: Maryknoll Mission Institute
P.O Box 311
Maryknoll, NY 10545-0311
There are times when all we can do is walk with someone in need. There may be nothing we can do, nothing we can change, but we can be there.
Especially after the rancorous US political campaign, we Affiliates must be there. We can reemphasize our mission, our counter-cultural, intercultural eagerness to walk with our brothers and sisters, and with the earth.
In this issue we see many facets of accompaniment:
Working for Change – "The idea is for organizations to be accountable for their work by assuring that their projects create real change in the lives of people..." – Fred Goddard
¡Buen Vivir! – "LIFE is a gift from God that we must care for and defend every day of our existence; we respect and enjoy being happy and making others happy. " – Claudia Samayoa
State of the Heart—Fall 2016 Board Meeting – "In my short time as Board chair, it is clear to me that it takes a small village to keep the Affiliate Committee
Korean Affiliates Share News – "I want to keep in touch and let other Affiliates know what we are doing."
Read, Discuss, Grow! – "We’re looking forward to the second Maryknoll Affiliate Book Group, which begins in January."
Tisquantum: A New Tale from the Old World – "Our remembrance of Thanksgiving is upside down." – David Stocker
"Walking Each Other Back Home: Mission As Accompaniment" – "...a day center for the homeless in New Orleans can be a mission when folks get to know the homeless while they provide them service." – Matt Rousso
What Happened at the Southern Region Conference—A Deeper Look – "... it was clear from the start that we were connected by and committed to the Maryknoll charism of accompanying those who have little or no voice in our clamorous, disjointed world." – Bob Short
Mission Is about Walking Each Other Home – "I have often been moved when I realize this is how God in Jesus has been with me all during my life —slowly and lovingly walking me home."
Long-Distance Accompaniment – "...Mwanza Affiliates sent colorful cloth bags from one of their women’s projects..."
Building Abrahamic Partnerships – "The highlight for me was a small group experience led by a Jewish rabbi, a Muslim woman, and a United Church of Christ woman minister." – Dan Heuer
Call for Nominations – "Are you dedicated to serving the Affiliate movement and committed to building a strong and sustainable organization? " – Mary Massaro
Coming Soon to Your Mailbox! – "Working together we can do it!"
A blessing: The Gift of Enough
A book review: Just Water - A Right to Life Issue
To view this issue in its print form, download the November/December 2016 PDF.
September 18, 2016—I know it’s a cliché title, but that is exactly what I have been doing since Jet and I returned to the Philippines four years ago in October.
Soon after we arrived, I began working with MAGI (Managing Alternatives Group, Incorporated—managingalternatives.org). This NGO provides services to other NGOs around organizational management, assessments, evaluations, etc. I worked with partners in the Philippines of the German donor organization MISEREOR to help them determine what difference their projects were making in the lives of the people with whom they worked. What changes did they observe?
Come to MAC2017 in Guatemala in November 2017 to experience ¡Buen Vivir!—to live fully.
Information on how to register for MAC2017, travel grant opportunities, optional mission visits, etc., will be in upcoming NSFA issues.
In a recent No Tan Lejos del Horizonte, Latin-American Maryknollers say*:
Driving into the Hudson Valley for our October board meeting, I saw the magnificent and glorious fall colors; seasons are something that elude us here on the California Central Coast. Though basking in the colors, my thoughts were muted by the news from Chicago Affiliate Renate Schneider. She works with various development projects in Jeremie, Haiti, one of the areas hardest hit by Hurricane Matthew.
Participants told the Book Group Committee that the first Affiliate Book Group was a very positive experience for just about everyone, even if the book—Making All Things New by Ilia Delio—was often challenging. We’re looking forward to the second Maryknoll Affiliate Book Group, which begins in January.
You are invited to join the next session, where you may indicate your preferred book and your best meeting time.
This is a brief report, but I want to keep in touch and let other Affiliates know what we are doing.
We met on October 15, 2016, at the Maryknoll Sisters’ apartment in Seoul. Thirteen of us gathered, including two visiting guests who are Sisters of the Congregation of Jesus and Theresa Jung, who is asking to become an Affiliate. We all warmly welcomed her.
At the meeting, Maryknoll Sister Hyung-Jung Kim spoke to us about her mission in East Timor. Also, Maryknoll Sister Jean Maloney reported on her recent trip to the US. As usual, all the Affiliates shared the events of their lives during the past month, and a number spoke of gratitude for their families and for the Affiliate meeting itself, which is such a support. Also one member is preparing to make a trip to the Holy Land.
The Chapter requests prayers for the wife of one of the Affiliates who is receiving treatment for cancer. Her name is Theresa.
Thanksgiving evokes harvest gratitude just before winter. Yet the myth of Thanksgiving that we tell is rife with inaccuracies and omissions that have endured for 400 years. The story of a Wompanoag, Tisquantum (Squanto), in 1614, gives us a more honest look at our American colonial roots.