As a US Maryknoll Affiliate, MLK Day and the presidential inauguration caused me to step back to re-evaluate and consider how we might step forward. So I have gone back to notes and excerpts from books I’ve read the last couple years to look for helpful guidance. 2017 is an amazing time, in so many respects. I feel very unqualified to be living now and to respond to all that this era demands. In particular, we face a crisis of millennia with climate change – a crisis we/our culture have brought on, and which will take the lives of many if we do not do something about it very soon. We are late in the game, so I must and will say very clearly: it is time for us to get off of fossil fuels—now—all of us. Ethical, even pro-life action carries a deeper urgency and moral call. This is something we must do. It’s as big a deal as the Holocaust.
The 2017 Maryknoll Affiliate Book Groups are enjoying reading the Orbis book, Abounding in Kindness, by Elizabeth Johnson. The two groups, who meet on Tuesday and Sunday, are composed of people calling in from across the United States. They look forward to the weekly telephone conference calls and share highlights of the discussion by email. Some questions and reflections are posted on Facebook or the Affiliate web site.
Caminando Por La Paz focuses on education of children in one of the most marginalized barrios of Guatemala City. However, this Catholic Worker house, staffed by Affiliates from both Guatemala and Texas, uses a variety of ways to educate, including financial support, tutoring, healthy meals, community connections and spiritual activities, enrichment and development trips, and coffee sales.
Now, in 2017, 24 children in various schools, including four students in universities, receive financial support. Some children receive full scholarships while others receive only partial assistance, based on need.
Tutors work with the older children in the morning and the younger in the afternoon. The tutoring program, an important aspect of the educational effort, includes more than 60 kids and is growing. It is close to outgrowing the space available. As part of our tutoring program, we provide a nutritious meal before tutoring begins. Cross Catholic International provides partial support for the meals.
Although educating children remains our focus, we have provided several educational and spiritual trips for students and neighbors to allow them to better know their own culture and to build community. We have taken these biannual trips to Esquipulas and Antigua. We visited the revered black crucifix in the southern city of Esquipulas and took a guided walk in Antigua to visit locations related to the life of the local saint, Hermano Pedro. In addition to planned activities on the trips, some free time is allowed, and the day ends with a holy hour.
We also hold a holy hour each week at the Caminando Por La Paz house. The holy-hour format is simple: an opening prayer, the readings of the day, discussion, and a closing prayer. The number of neighbors participating varies and is slowly increasing.
We strive to be an important and accepted member of the community. A new program that we will continue in 2017 is shoe distribution. In 2016, we distributed shoes from Shoes to the World (http://www.shoestotheworld.org/) to about 200 neighborhood children.
We are very excited that MAC 2017 will be in Guatemala and have helped in the planning. We hope conference attendees can bring donations for our program. We need school and sports supplies, and more. You may download a list of needs (Click here.). We are praying for a super angel to help replace our aging pick-up truck and even to obtain another house to be used for tutoring and other programs. (Contact Ron with your questions or for financial donations.)
We look forward to seeing you at the conference and invite you to visit Caminando Por La Paz whenever you come to Guatemala.
Excerpts from the article by Rose Marie Berger, appearing in December 2016 Sojourners.
“JUST WAR IS KILLING US! There is no just war.”
That proclamation by a Catholic sister from Iraq, and others like it, resounded at a Vatican gathering this spring  and fell on surprisingly receptive ears.
Sister Nazik Matty, an Iraqi Dominican, joined others from around the world in Rome in April to wrestle with how the Catholic Church could “recommit to the centrality of gospel nonviolence.” She has watched members of her religious community die for lack of medical care during war.
“Which of the wars we have been in is a just war?” asked Sister Matty, who was driven from her home in Mosul by ISIS, also known by the Arabic acronym Daesh. “In my country, there was no just war. War is the mother of ignorance, isolation, and poverty. Please tell the world there is no such thing as a just war. I say this as a daughter of war.”
The Rome gathering was unprecedented, bringing together members of the church hierarchy with social scientists, theologians, practitioners of nonviolence, diplomats, and unarmed civilian peacekeepers to discuss Catholic nonviolence and whether in the contemporary world armed force can ever be justified. [Marie Dennis, Pax Christi, and the Maryknoll Office of Global Concerns helped plan and participate in the conference on Nonviolence and Just Peace.]
Of course, with such diverse participants, there was not a common mind on whether just war theory, a doctrine of military ethics used by Catholic theologians, has outlived its usefulness as church teaching.
Reprinted with permission from Sojourners, (800) 714-7474, www.sojo.net. This link : https://sojo.net/magazine/december-2016/game-changer, gives access to this preview of the article and a sidebar with links to these articles:
“My son was brutally murdered for bringing electricity to a few poor people in northern Nicaragua. He was murdered because he had a dream and because he had the courage to make that dream come true. ... Ben told me the first year that he was here, and this is a quote, ‘It’s a wonderful feeling to work in a country where the government’s first concern is for its people, for all of its people.’ ”
Elizabeth Linder spoke thus at her son’s funeral in Nicaragua after he was shot at close range by the Contras in 1987. Ben Linder’s death at the hands of the Reagan-supported Contras made headlines in his hometown, Portland, and around the nation. The death of Linder, coming as Congressional hearings investigated the Iran-Contra Affair, fueled the debate in the US over the covert war in Nicaragua. The next year, Congress refused to renew aid to the Contras. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ben_Linder)
Ten attendees at our annual summer picnic began with a casual conversation over appetizers that turned into deep reflections on what it means to live out a call at this stage of life. In The Great Work of Your Life: a Guide for the Journey of Your True Calling, Stephen Cope examines the life visions and struggles faced by such visionaries as Jane Goodall, Harriet Tubman, Mohandas Gandhi, and several ordinary folks and encourages us to reject the modern idea that ‘we can be anyone we want to be’ and instead to discover and fully pursue their inner self’s calling.
We assume life is a mission of service;
Transforming dreams into reality.
OUR HISTORY – In 2007, Sister Connie Pospisil, MM, visited us and introduced us to the Affiliate Movement, as a further expression of the Maryknoll Family. The following year Father Thomas Göekler, MM (decd.), visited us and questioned us, saying: “You live the Maryknoll spirituality, you have to form a Chapter of Maryknoll Affiliates”.
Affiliates are people of prayer committed to continually forming in their missionary spirituality from the creative tension between “being” and “doing.”
WHO ARE WE? Who are the Maryknoll Affiliates in the Guatemala Chapter?
MARYKNOLL SISTERS – Making Gods love visible in Guatemala.
These courageous women have come from other regions, from other countries, and from other missionary projects to start new missions. They expended great efforts to identify needs, find funds, identify places for projects, and train people for their work teams.
These excerpts are translated from the Guatemalan Maryknoll Affiliate website: http://afiliadosmaryknoll.wixsite.com/guate.
An extraordinary edition of No Tan Lejos del Horizonte, posted in November, was dedicated to honoring Rosa Beatriz Castañeda de Larios for her 50 years in education.
Sunday, November 13, 2016, Rosa Beatriz Castañeda de Larios, Coordinator of the Guatemala Chapter of Maryknoll Affiliates (as well as editor of the NTLH and chair of the MAC 2017 organizing team), received a well-deserved tribute for her life of service in education, in Guatemala and in the world. She was feted in an event replete with music: marimba music, choreographed dances, and songs by a choir of former students, all composed and produced by her friend Miguel Angel Duarte and his artistic team. Graduates of the Sister Elizabeth McDermott Applied Arts School and Monte María School, where Rosa Beatriz had served, presented her orchids. Her colleague, Maryknoll Affiliate Anabella Penados, of the Monte María School, gave her a bonsai, explaining that it was a metaphor for the duration of her career and the artistry with which she kept it alive.
November 9-12, 2017
Guatemala, Central America
Registration is now available. For the forms, go to http://afiliadosmaryknoll.wixsite.com/guate/nossos-professores
After the conference, consider a Mission Visit…
You can visit missions of Maryknoll Sisters, a Priest, Lay Missioners, and Affiliates who serve in different areas of Guatemala or in El Salvador. Visiting a mission, you will be salt and light in exchanging the joy of the Gospel, living the beatitudes, and letting yourself be evangelized more than wanting to evangelize others.
Four post-conference options are offered (each needs a minimum of 5 participants):
The Communications Committee addresses all the avenues of communication used by the Affiliates: the Not So Far Afield (NSFA) and No Tan Lejos del Horizonte (NTLH) newsletters, the Maryknoll Affiliates’ website, the Monday update email, Facebook, the Book Group, and the Affiliate databases. Members of the committee recently reviewed each medium and commented:
Newsletters: The NSFA is distributed by mail six times a year to over 300 households and by email to over 750 addresses. The NTLH, a separate newsletter written by our Spanish-speaking Affiliates—not just a translation of the NSFA—is made available online at www.afiliadosmaryknoll.wixsite.com/guate/ntlh and in pdf form. The NTLH newsletter in Spanish is now also available on our website, at downloads/no-tan-lejos-del-horizonte.html
Web site: Executive Coordinator Bob Short regularly updates the website, posting news items of current interest. He also highlights different chapters to give a feel for our various ways of approaching mission. Affiliates are asked to contact Bob if they would like to have their chapter highlighted. Also, let Bob know if you encounter broken links or other problems at the website so that he can address them.
Monday Email: To get the most recent Affiliate news, Affiliates are invited to sign up for the Monday email at this website, under Contacts.
Facebook and other social media have great potential, but so far the Affiliates’ Facebook page is not well used. We need a capable volunteer with ideas and social media skills to make better use of Facebook.
Affiliate Databases: Ginny McEvoy continues working with Bob Short to harmonize them. If you want to be added to the membership list or update your information, please email Bob.
Excerpted from the article, “Internalizing Justice, Not Just Acting for It,” in The Peace Current, Summer 2016
Am I willing to change my internal landscape and my lifestyle in the pursuit of justice? I wonder sometimes if there are “safe” social justice issues that don’t require very much change. Does a focus on issues like nuclear disarmament, human trafficking, or abortion allow me to feel good about working for social change but not require much personal change?
We all need to be willing to be personally uncomfortable in the pursuit of justice, too. We cannot shy from important justice issues that also challenge those of us who have built a life on white privilege.
*Sister Rose Marie Tresp, RSM, of Belmont, N.C., has advocated for fair treatment of immigrants in the US for many years. In 2013, she joined the Fast for Immigrant Justice, commenting, “Our purpose is to push for immigration reform. We’re hoping to get more people who will support immigration reform and work for it.”
Start your nonviolent journey each day with an inspirational quote from Pace e Bene.
“Our hearts are not defeated,” Mr. Goldtooth said. “The closing of the camp is not the end of a movement or fight. It is a new beginning. They cannot extinguish the fire that Standing Rock started.”
A Radical Faith: The Assassination of Sister Maura
By Eileen Markey, Nation Books
“Portrait of a Martyr,” a review of Markey’s book that appeared in America Magazine on January 2, 2017, gives insight into the person and life of Maryknoll Sister Maura Clarke and the evolution of mission. (http://www.americamagazine.org/arts-culture/2016/12/22/remembering-martyrs-their-humanity-well-their-faith)
Reviewer Elizabeth Kirkland Cahill writes, “Maura’s years in Central America coincided with a period of sweeping transformation in the church’s understanding of its role in the world. Unsurprisingly, the Maryknoll nun’s perspective evolved accordingly. Originally focused on teaching that would allow poor Nicaraguans to improve their lives, Maura’s sense of purpose became more radically identified with the poor and infused with a desire to change the structural inequities that created and perpetuated poverty. Yet her posture was not political, but spiritual: The work of the Christian is to build the world Christ ushered in, by affirming the dignity and basic human rights of every person. Maura’s approach to the people of Nicaragua and El Salvador was one of complete, transcendent generosity and love. …”
In what could be advice for Affiliates, the reviewer quotes a Salvadoran nun who told the nephew of Ita Ford, MM*, “You do not have to be in El Salvador to continue your aunt’s mission.” After returning to the US, the nephew “realized the dream of opening Cristo Rey New York High School, a college preparatory school whose students—75 percent of whom are Latino—engage in a rigorous curriculum and work at entry-level business jobs. These students ... honor Ita Ford, Maura Clarke, and their two colleagues as the spiritual founders of Cristo Rey New York.” Affiliates also continue Maura’s and Ita’s mission when working not so far afield, in their own neighborhoods.
*Four church women were martyred in El Salvador in 1980: Maura Clarke and Ita Ford of Maryknoll, Ursuline sister Dorothy Kazel, and laywoman Jean Donovan.
Maryknoll Affiliate Board
Meets May 5-7, 2017, at Maryknoll
MAC 2017 in Guatemala is uppermost in the Board’s thoughts this spring, but they will also be discussing reports and plans of the three committees formed in response to the 2015 Affiliate Survey: Communication, Connection, and Sustainability/Growth. The consideration of new chapters and of virtual chapters is also on the agenda.
So that the Regional Coordinators (RCs) can focus their travel time and expenses on MAC 2017 in Guatemala, they will be “virtually” included in this Board meeting via Skype. One area the RCs will review with the Board is how RCs are selected and how long they should serve.