Roger and Kitty Schiltz, partners in mission as in life, share stories of their time in Tanzania.
Roger: When we go to Tanzania for two or three months, we take books with us as part of our spiritual journey.
Two years ago, reading two Orbis books by Franciscan sister Ilia Delio—The Unbearable Wholeness of Being and The Emergent Christ—and being with the people in Tanzania, we remembered that we are stardust and co-creators with our God in this beautiful cosmos. This year we brought with us two books by Richard Rohr OSF: Eager to Love and Hope against Darkness: The Transforming Vision of Saint Francis in an Age of Anxiety. And we learn that God is love and God is in our DNA and in everything.
We hope these pictures of our time this year in Chipole, along with the readings, will give an idea of our journey.
Kitty and Sr. Tuzinde, in the 10-acre Field of Dreams, are elated by seeing trees 5, 10, and 20 feet tall after years of fires. Sunflowers grow between the trees.
To prevent fires and to compost the soil, Roger cultivates the ten acres by hoe each year.
Children call Sr. Tuzinde Mama Miti —mother of trees. She is pulling the earth toward love and sustainability.
Roger feels like he is sitting on top of the world in the Field of Dreams.
We do have a little fun out here in this spiritual dreamland where God’s DNA is in everything. St. Francis would say, looking up at the stars and at all the creatures, “If these are the creatures, what must the creator be like?”
Kitty: While staying at St. Agnes Abbey in Chipole, Tanzania, this year, I decided to spend time with the youngest orphans. Since the older orphans were at school and pre-school, five of the youngest spent their mornings waiting for their older siblings to come home and play with them.
Mama feeding uji to Rosie. Joni is watching.
These young ones were just waiting for me to come each morning. They would be sitting on the floor, not yet walking. I came at porridge time when they were enjoying a cup of warm uji.
What do you do with five little children who can’t talk or walk yet? By the time I had their diapers changed, they were wet again, so I did not concentrate on dry babies. I wore old clothes and changed when I went home.
Lighty and the soccer ball.
I found an old soccer ball, and we learned to roll it to one another; but mostly I sang songs and held them on my lap. It became so natural to be with them each morning. Most of them were lively, and I picked them up and made them giggle. When I sang they would smile and move to the rhythm of the songs—except for one of them.
Kitty singing to Joni, Rosie, Lighty, and Omega. Antony has crawled off somehwere.
My challenge was to get that one to smile. Lighty was her name, shortened from Lightness. One of the first things I noticed about her was that she was not at all like her name.
She did not smile and she was chubby, not interested in moving or walking even though she was two years old. The ball was the one thing she really liked, so we played ball. Lighty began to smile and respond to the rhythm of the songs, to attempt to go after the ball. Finally, when I urged her to hold my hands and try to walk, she smiled up at me and tried. I felt joyful; now I miss the babies and wonder how they’re doing.
Kitty and Lighty and ball. Joni and Antony in background.
In all our lives, but especially as we ponder where and how to invest our mission efforts, we face a discernment process. What is our role in God’s plan?
1. Read through the entire meeting plan.
2. Plan who will read the passages.
3. Determine which discussion questions to use at your meeting and who will lead the discussions.
My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself,
And the fact that I think that I am following
Your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you
Does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything
Apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this,
You will lead me by the right
Road though I may know
Nothing about it.
Therefore, will I trust you
Always though I may seem lost
And in the shadow of death, I will not fear, for you
Are forever with me, and you will never leave me
To face my perils alone.
While still in Bolivia but having completed their work with Maryknoll Lay Missioners, the Halberg Weavers paused to discern what their next stop would be.
Discernment is one of those words we use often as missioners. It's a way of trying to be in touch with what really gives us life and paying attention to how God is present in that.
As we began 2014, we committed—as a family—to spending each Sunday afternoon during January examining our hopes and dreams for the next stage of our lives. Taking steps into the unknown future can be daunting for an individual, so we were well aware of how difficult it would be to meet the hopes of five people. However, our sharing of those hopes fell into place, like a harvest following a good growing season.
Think of a time you had to make a major decision. Were you able to set aside time to discuss your options? How many other people did your decision affect? Were these people part of the decision-making process? Did you consciously make prayer part of your discernment process? How long did you ponder your decision?
It was immediately clear that all five of us wanted to live closer to Grandma and Grandpa Halberg, which would mean leaving Bolivia and moving to Washington State. We were also in agreement that our last year in Bolivia would be lived to the full. For the kids, it meant one more school year with their Bolivian friends.
For Karen, it meant leaving her work responsibilities and focusing on "tending the hearth." And for me, it meant that I would continue my commitment to form a primarily Bolivian parish team.
And so our three children began a new school year: Jake in 1st grade, Emma in 5th, and Daniel in 8th. They had a great year. Besides their studies, they participated in traditional Bolivian dancing and learned to play traditional Bolivian instruments. They played basketball with friends and continued to form life-long ties that I'm sure will endure, wherever we live.
My work of creating a parish-based community agriculture project continued to solidify and expand. Our parish garden produced enough vegetables to support a full-time gardener who sells its produce twice a week at the church. The German foundation, Miserior, has become a partner in a full-time team that visits families and acts as a resource for nutrition and gardening advice. Funding for this project is necessary for its continuity. Significantly, this ecological work is now included in the parish vision, formally structured in the pastoral plan.
It is said, “Maryknoll Missioners go where they are needed but not wanted and move on when they are wanted but not needed.” Have you ever faced a transition, a time of moving on, when you could see that what you had achieved would survive and grow in the hands of others? Or conversely, did you ever need to make a change because a position was so frustrating it was not healthy for you? How did your previous experience influence your decision about what to do next? Did you seek out counsel while making the decision?
Our family lived the year of 2014 appreciating all the beautiful, enriching eccentricities and cultural celebrations/customs that make Bolivia and its people so special: the Carnaval parade in March; the trip Daniel and I made to southern Bolivia; watching Daniel's best friends playing on Cochabamba’s team in the national youth soccer tournament; all the parish activities for young children. So many threads of our life in Bolivia were weaving themselves together!
At the end of the school year, we began the process of packing up and sorting out the things we had collected over the years. Without the help of our Maryknoll friends, our neighbors, and our co-workers, it would have been overwhelming.
Casta and Alejandro made many trips in their little car, hauling fridge and stove and rabbits to new homes. One family from the store where we bought most of our groceries showed up unexpectedly on our last day with chicken dinners not only for us but also for all who were there helping out. We will forever remember how Bolivians know what to do in the moment, and offering everything, with no holding back for what may be needed the next day.
We are now in Washington State, still discerning our next steps. We are in the process of purchasing some farmland near the area where Karen grew up. I am excited about pulling together my mission work by engaging in the growing movement toward local food economies and sustainable, community-supported agriculture. The chance to return to farming offers so much towards our rooting ourselves in the fabric of this rural community.
Over our 20 years in mission, our family has enjoyed an amazing web of relationships. We are grateful for the love and support of so many friends and marvel at the grace of the life we have lived thus far. We are thankful for the support of all who have joined us in our journey, as well as for the awesome Mystery that bumped us together along the way.
Having read the Halberg Weaver family’s story, what will be your approach the next time your are faced with a life-changing decision?
Closing Prayer (in the style of your chapter):
God, if this is your will, help me.
If not, stop me.
For peace activists on the front line, it is true you can feel small, alone and ineffective. But still you demonstrate to bring issues to light. This makes authorities uncomfortable, and you may feel like well...we are just three people protesting. You will probably never know that maybe your action just prevented a massacre from going forward.
—Amos Gvirtz, Israeli peace activist, author
Photo by skip schiel © teeksaphoto.org
Amos Gvirtz is an unassuming Israeli man. A peace activist and pacifist, his personal moral choices have come at a cost, being labeled a “self hating Jew” shunned by family and community. Yet he leads tours for international humanitarian visitors and joins demonstrations in the Negev and in the West Bank to expose the atrocious human rights violations. He has had a long time to think over his position. I was excited to find out he was going to tour the US and Canada this April, and I made sure to bring him to speak in Rockford, Illinois.
Amos presented at Emmanuel Lutheran Church and at the mosque of the Muslim Association of Greater Rockford. It was a teaching of a suppressed history, refreshingly free from political agenda. Amos gave clear answers to our questions. But he also commented on the nature of community, and he shared a message for all peace activists in our struggles to Think Globally and Act Locally. He said,
What was very special for me to see was this church that is so much about peace. Where peace is central to it. It was wonderful. And to see Muslims visit the church and Christians visit the mosque to be together is really peace itself. For me this was impressive.
After his presentation, we talked till late about the power of convictions, the polarization and militarization of identity groups, and the terrible consequences of letting loyalty take the place of moral judgment.
Next morning at the bus station we ran into a Rockford philanthropist who was a sponsor in the creation of Rockford›s Keeling Puri Peace Plaza in 2000. As a music educator who is also a peace activist, I performed music and led children›s activities at the Keeling Puri Peace Plaza on International Day of Peace since the first event 9/21/01 (imagine that time) thru 2010. But I challenged the absence of the Palestinian flag from the circle of flags representing those immigrant populations that have made Rockford their home in America. The peace plaza policy regarding displayed flags required “statehood.”
What could I say to Palestinian friends here? Same as world politics...you do not exist; you must wait and be patient. I was advised by Day of Peace event organizers that my selections of peace music should not carry an anti war message. At the time I was preparing the song, “Imagine,” by John Lennon, with a group of children.
In this chance encounter at the bus station—introducing the Israeli peace activist and the Rockford philanthropist, I asked if the UN’s recognition of Palestine as a state would mean the Palestinian flag could fly over the Peace Plaza. She said maybe this could be reconsidered. A new day...
Pope Francis, asking us to pray with him, has suggested these special intentions:
That, rejecting the culture of indifference, we may care for our neighbors who suffer, especially the sick and the poor.
That immigrants and refugees may find welcome and respect in the countries to which they come.
In early March, the San Diego Chapter of Maryknoll Affiliates met in the home of Erin and Spencer Rickwa to remember Bob Metzger with stories, songs, and prayer. Bob, who had been attending our Affiliate meetings for a number of years, was found dead in his apartment this past December 31st.
Bob, a retired teacher, lived alone and loved to travel. He had been a Maryknoll Seminarian years ago and maintained contact with some of his former classmates. He especially loved to talk about his visits to Maryknoll and with Maryknollers.
Our gathering began with the prayer, “Teach me Lord,” by Fr. Joseph Veneroso, MM. Erin recalled Bob’s visit to Cochabamba and his difficulty in finding the Maryknoll Language School. Then Michele shared her collage of photos and words that reminded us of Bob, such as:
Listening to “Let There Be Peace On Earth,” we noted that he had been a calm and peaceful man, even to the end! Pat, Spencer, Jim, and Peggy talked of Bob as being in the next door room, or, better still, in our midst, as we heard the song: “I will not leave you comfortless, I will not leave you alone. I will come to you in the silence; Do not be afraid, I am with you.”
Margie read John O’Donohue’s poem, “For Death,” as well as various quotes on death, including the Irish Proverb, “May you get to heaven a half hour before the Devil knows you are dead.” Joe’s aunt had written a prayer on the occasion of his brother’s death. It ended with, “Oh sweet Jesus... that we be reunited together with you in heaven to live eternally united in your heart.”
We finished our meeting with the song: “I am the Bread of Life... And I will raise you up, and I will raise you up…” But the wake was not over until we toasted Bob with some brew before sharing a meal. May he rest in Peace in the arms of our Mother Mary!
Each of us
has a Red Sea
Problems so terrifying
no exit we see
When placing our requests
on wings to Thee
Then trusting God,
He parts our sea
Providing safe passage
for you and me
No need to fear
the pounding waves
of life’s problem sea
Upon placing our lives
in the hands of Thee
Easter and this issue are about new beginnings and renewal. Your co-editors are celebrating our third anniversary of the month we began our role on the NSFA in response to Fred Goddard’s planned departure as the Affiliates’ executive coordinator. Since then, we have surveyed Affiliates about our communications; Paula has maintained our web presence with a blog and now on our updated website; and we have introduced some new features to the NSFA, such as the Easy Meeting: A Tale of Discernment.
The Affiliates are now updating and expanding our database and email list. Please respond to your Regional Coordinator and contact person, updating your and your chapter’s contact information. Also, be sure to complete the Board’s survey, introduced on page 1. We hope that every Affiliate who uses email will receive Affiliate email communications. If you wish, you may also receive the paper version of the NSFA.
An Affiliate has challenged us in what Bob Short characterized as a love letter to the NSFA. The letter said in part, “I have never enjoyed an issue of the NSFA as much as March/April 2015... Do it again, if you can.”
Survey of the Affiliate Movement: A Call to Dialogue for all Affiliates – “As we move into the future and celebrate this great gift of our charism as Maryknoll Affiliates, we very much look forward to hearing from you. “—Ann Carr and Rich Lessard
Saying Goodbye to Bob Metzger – “In early March, the San Diego Chapter of Maryknoll Affiliates met in the home of Erin and Spencer Rickwa to remember Bob Metzger with stories, songs, and prayer.”—Joe Santos
A Day with Peace Activist Amos Gvirtz – “A peace activist and pacifist, his personal moral choices have come at a cost, being labeled a “self-hating Jew” shunned by family and community.”—David Stocker
Easy Meeting: A Tale of Discernment – “It's a way of trying to be in touch with what really gives us life and paying attention to how God is present in that.”—Jim and Karen Halberg Weaver
Return to Field of Dreams – “We hope these pictures of our time this year in Chipole, along with the readings, will give an idea of our journey.”—Roger and Kitty Schiltz
A Return to Galilee – “Our 24-year-old movement, influenced by challenges within and beyond Maryknoll, is growing more international, responding to the wider prophetic voices of our Church and world.”—John Moritz and Ann Carr
Western Region Affiliate Conference – "Love in Action – Mission on the Margins"
Midwest Gathering – a retreat in Wisconsin
for poetry, prayer requests, and links to Maryknoll Sisters’ and MOGC news and events.
“God exists as the mystery of persons in communion...Only in communion can God be what God is, and only in communion can God be at all...The mystery of divine love is hidden in the other, and it is precisely in the other that God shines through (or hides) in the unbearable wholeness of being.”—Ilia Delio
When asked, “What is a Maryknoll Affiliate?” Affiliates often say they struggle to find the right words and yet they know being one is something terribly important. Last fall, the Affiliate Board began some preliminary work on visioning, discernment, and needs assessment for today’s Affiliate movement—a work which cannot effectively be completed without full Affiliate participation and input. And so, we now invite you to enter this process together with us.
We ask you first to participate in an individual survey/reflection and then later as part of a Chapter discernment and reflection process.
A committee composed of Board members, Regional Coordinators, and the Executive Coordinator crafted an individual survey that focuses on three main themes: Maryknoll Affiliate Identity & Visioning – How do you understand the unique Affiliate expression of the Maryknoll Charism? What is your/our vision for the future of our movement? Engagement & Connection – How do we define and strengthen our relationships as Affiliates to Affiliates, Affiliates to Maryknollers? And, Mission Experiences & Demographics.
Why a Survey Now?
1. The Board, Regional Coordinators, and Executive Coordinator want to strengthen connections with the Affiliate membership and to invite members’ greater ownership in shaping our future. We are seeking new and creative ways to foster communication among the Board, Regional Coordinators, and Affiliates.
2. At recent general meetings, the Maryknoll entities stressed “collaboration.” Most significantly, they have invited us to join the Joint Meeting of Leadership (JML). The input gathered from Affiliates now will help us as we participate in this new model of engagement.
3. As the Affiliate movement approaches its 25th Anniversary next year, we hope this survey can help us learn together who we are now.
Completing the Survey
The survey is accessible online at http://goo.gl/forms/VcWTa6fikB. Your responses will be anonymous, although we do ask you to note your region. If you have access to a computer, please complete the survey online. To ensure your responses have been recorded, be sure to hit the SUBMIT button at the end.
If you do not have access to a computer, please ask your Chapter contact person or Regional Coordinator for a printed copy. Mail it to: Maryknoll Affiliates,
P.O. Box 311, Maryknoll, NY 10545-0311.
Including time for reflection, we think you can complete the survey in 30-45 minutes.
We ask that the survey be completed and submitted by June 30, 2015.
From Survey to Chapter Reflection
We are currently working on the second phase of this call to dialogue, the Chapter Reflection. For many Affiliates, deeper questions facing our movement will be explored most meaningfully within our chapters. Feedback from the individual survey will help us shape the upcoming chapter reflection process.
We realize the time it takes to complete the survey may seem substantial, but know that your input is essential to helping us understand what’s happening in the broader Affiliate movement now and how best to move it forward. As we move into the future and celebrate this great gift of our charism as Maryknoll Affiliates, we very much look forward to hearing from you.
After my volunteer assignment in San José, Costa Rica, I traveled by bus to visit Kitty Madden, a Maryknoll Affiliate in Matagalpa, Nicaragua. She has lived there for 29 years, putting her heart and soul into serving the needs of high-risk pregnant women. Casa Materna, established in 1991 as the very first maternal care center in Nicaragua, offers food, shelter, education, medical care, transportation and support for high-risk pregnant women from rural areas for one to two weeks before and after childbirth.
I had met Kitty Madden at a Maryknoll Conference and become a Friend of the Casa Materna. Later she traveled to Portland, and visited my Solo group and Portland Affiliates. During her last visit, over lunch I learned of the new developments at the Casa. I thought it would be wonderful to actually see for myself the operation of this wonderful Maternity Home.
Kitty greeted me warmly at the local bus station and installed me in the Casita, a very comfortable hotel across the street from Casa Materna. The $15 per day cost goes directly to support the Casa. Soon we were welcomed by the staff and pregnant women at the Casa. Charming murals, brightly painted interior spaces, and wonderful rocking chairs, made for a very friendly atmosphere. After a lunch of rice and beans, I joined Kitty at a meeting with the staff, who were planning an outreach program—additional education and training that women have requested. The follow-up and outreach programs are becoming a more important part of the mission of the Casa Materna as the number of Casa Maternas has increased; now over 100 are located in every department in the country.
The next day we walked with the women up some very steep hills to the hotel gardens for calming exercises led by Kitty Madden. Then we were treated to some fruit punch and flan at the hotel. I learned the women’s ages, how many children they already have, their due dates, and the reason for their stay at the the Casa. They ranged in age from 17 to 42; this would be first child to eighth; and they were expecting that very day or week, or were overdue.
I had a chance to ask them questions and they asked me about my children. Our second walk a few days later was also very enjoyable and just as calming. The sense of calm, the companionship of the women, and the dedication of the staff are what impressed me the most. I met the whole Casa Materna staff when I joined them at the end of their monthly meeting, just in time for their fun fundraising raffle (to raise money for their 13th month salary – their bonus), and I was certainly impressed by their desire to serve the women in Matagalpa with high-risk pregnancies.
While I was in Matagalpa, several women went to the regional hospital to deliver their babies or for appointments in the new ambulance that was purchased a few years ago. Marvin, one of two Casa drivers, was taking a women for an appointment in the ambulance and gave me a ride as well, dropping me off at the bus station when I had to leave Matagalpa.
A review of Julian’s Gospel: Illuminating the Life & Revelations of Julian of Norwich,
by Veronica Mary Rolf, published by Orbis*, 2013.
Veronica Mary Rolf is a most interesting writer. A recent podcast with America magazine reveals she spent much of her life in the professional theatre, as a playwright and actress. She also trained and directed professional actors around the world. Now, Rolf teaches Christian meditation and the history of Christian mysticism. She brings her dramatic sensibility and vivid descriptions of Julian’s context and time to Julian’s Gospel in a unique approach to the favorite spiritual guide of Thomas Merton, Richard Rohr, and many others.
This NSFA issue urges you to consider new ways of seeing. Executive Coordinator Bob Short introduces the new Affiliate web site, which provides new ways of seeing and learning about the Affiliate movement. Check it out! Bob also shares his evolving perceptions from his recent time with Affiliates in Bolivia and Peru.
Fr. John Martin, MM, writes that interfaith dialog has expanded his perspectives. Several Affiliate gatherings, regional and local, featured in this issue, will bring an expanded view of the Affiliate world. Indeed, the Maryknoll Affiliate pillar, Global Vision, is a new way of seeing, a way of seeing that includes everyone, especially the marginalized.
Do you hear the call of far-away places? Here are a few volunteer opportunities:
Study in Africa
Through the Maryknoll Institute Of African Studies – St. Mary’s University, Minnesota, and Tangaza College, Nairobi, participate directly in the contemporary cultures and religions of Kenya. These graduate courses combine lectures, directed professional field research assisted by a personal tutorial assistant, a 15-page research/ integration paper, and pastoral reflection. All courses are intensive, immersion-style and completed in three weeks. Courses are registered at St. Mary’s University as four-credit graduate courses. www.mias.edu
Maryknoll Institute also runs full semester programs for non-East Africans and other foreigners who come for a sabbatical of three months.
China Teachers Program
Ever consider spending a year in China teaching English as a second language? The Maryknoll China teachers program offers a unique opportunity to share and live out your Christian calling educating young Chinese university students. www.ChinaServ.org
China Teachers’ Summer Program
From mid-July to mid-August at Jilin Medical College, Jilin City. Help third-year Medical and Nursing students with spoken English through small group discussions and oral drills in four class periods per day. Eight to fourteen teachers live in community on the campus of Jilin Medical College. Program requirements and benefits are the same as the full year program.
Fr. Brian Barrons, MM, Asia Regional Superior
Bookmark this special Maryknoll Society website: http://maryknollmissiontrips.org. Visit it frequently to discover the latest opportunities not only for short-term service but also for immersion and study programs. For further information, please contact:
Rev. Michael J. Snyder, MM, Short Term
If I can feel the wood and know who’s whittled,
Read paragraphs and know the author’s name,
Can hear one riff and know Grapelli’s fiddled,
Or sense in silhouettes the dancing flame,
Why can’t I scan for style erratic lines
And temperamental scribbling on earth’s page:
Consistent inconsistencies, design,
Caprice, rich legacies of tenderness and rage?
Perhaps the world I cherish is chaotic,
Perhaps its pedagogy is insane,
But if it is sufficiently quixotic,
The signature, for students, will be plain.
Ah, crazy-witty worldlings, pitch a tent,
Absorbing and translating sacrament.