The word “water” is cited forty-seven times in Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si’. This demonstrates the great value and concern Pope Francis places on water as a sacred and essential part of life.
Though water is essential to life, we take it for granted when we reach for a glass of water. Most humans will perish after three days without drinking water. It is so central to maintaining life on our planet that, at times throughout history, water has been used as a tool in military confrontations and has been the source of regional and local conflicts and transboundary disputes.
Pope Francis identifies key problems related to water:
Since we are looking forward to the 2017MAC in Guatemala, which is offering a post conference trip to El Salvador, anything Salvadoran catches our eye. The Catholic News Service and other publications recently announced that a law passed in 2017 phases out all mining for metals in that Central American country. Last year the Salvadoran government won a $300 million lawsuit brought against it by a unit of a Canadian-Australian mining giant, Oceana Gold. The government had denied mining permits to a new project; the company then sued for lost profits. Activists reported that recent deaths were related to disputes over mining and that mining operations have caused water and soil contamination. Demonstrations, a petition signed by 30,000 people, and advocacy by the Salvadoran Catholic Church pushed their congress to institute the ban.
Similarly, a New York Times article, “El Salvador, Prizing Water Over Gold, Bans All Metal Mining,” reported, “Declaring that El Salvador’s fragile environment could not sustain metal mining operations, legislators across the political spectrum approved the ban, which had broad support, particularly from the influential Roman Catholic Church.” (March 29, 2017 - https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/29/world/americas/el-salvador-prizing-water-over-gold-bans-all-metal-mining.html?_r=0)
Did you or your Maryknoll Affiliate chapter celebrate Earth Day? Were you able to participate in the Climate March in Washington, DC, April 29, or in some related event in your community?
In Washington, DC, the Maryknoll Office of Global Concerns met for Mass at St. Dominic Church before the Climate March on Saturday, April 29th. The day before the March, MOGC invited participants to the Catholic Climate Covenant’s free lobby training (http://www.catholicclimatecovenant.org/) , followed by a pot luck dinner, film, and prayers.
A recent communication from Maryknoll Affiliate Robert Guice of Houston shows what active missioners the Houston Affiliates are:
In January, Dick Horstman joined a group of parishioners to take more than 100 gifts to the children of Piedras Negras, help at a soup kitchen, and deliver other gifts to an orphanage there. In March and April, he helped take youth and adults from four different high schools and a parish on mission trips to Eagle Pass, near the US/Mexico border.
Bob and Ruth Kleeman also went on a mission trip to Eagle Pass at a different time in March.
Ron Covey continues spending considerable time at his mission, Caminando Por La Paz in Guatemala City, where they work in many ways to be good neighbors, including tutoring 60 young students and distributing free shoes. Ron and Robert also staffed the Maryknoll Booth at a Vocation Expo at St. Mary’s Seminary in Houston. In July, Ron and Henry Yu will staff the “Sweatshop” booth at the Diocesan Youth Conference.
Several members will be traveling to Guatemala in November to participate in MAC 2017. If you will be there, too, plan to chat with the Houston Affiliates for ideas to take home to your own chapter.
At the Seattle Maryknoll Affiliates’ April meeting, Ralph Maughan, an Affiliate since 1996, spoke about his recent trip to Bangkok to visit Maryknoll Brothers John Beeching and Tim Raible and to pursue his other mission activities in Southeast Asia.
Both Brothers John and Tim have been friends of the Seattle Affiliates for many years. In 1997, Brother John visited the Seattle Affiliate Chapter and gave a talk about his work in Thailand. As a consequence, the chapter invited Brother John to be the keynote speaker at the first regional conference Seattle hosted in 2003. Brother Tim Raible was in charge of the Seattle Maryknoll House for five or more years in the early 2000s. Brother Tim was actively engaged with the Seattle Affiliates during that time, attending monthly meetings and assisting and involving the Affiliates in numerous ways.
Brother John’s influence also impacted many of the Affiliates besides Ralph. He invited Affiliates to come to Bangkok and to teach English to the monks and refugees in the Buddhist wats. Brother John’s message certainly impacted the lives of Ralph and his wife Kate. Both of them have visited Bangkok almost yearly to assist Brother John in teaching English to the monks.
Their mission trips gradually extended beyond Bangkok. Ralph and Kate spent six weeks in East Timor with Fr. Bill O’ Leary, MM. They installed solar panels in some buildings, repaired the rectory bathroom, and assisted in a feeding program. They are most likely the first and last Affiliates to work in East Timor with Maryknoll.
Ralph and Kate have also made almost yearly trips to Burma (Myanmar) through the invitation of Brother John. The area they visit in Northeastern Myanmar has been one of the most problematic and dangerous parts of the country. The Maughans worked in partnership with a congregation of sisters from Ireland. In Myanmar, Ralph and Kate installed solar panels on an HIV/AIDS home, on the sisters’ residence and on a children’s home. They also bought food and medicines for some needy Myanmarese.
In a new phase of his mission life, Ralph is now serving as Co-Regional Coordinator for the Northwest Maryknoll Affiliates along with me, Janet Quillian.
Stimulated by the Affiliate Book Group’s discussion of Elizabeth Johnson’s book, Abounding in Kindness, I eagerly anticipated hearing her talk at a local university. She asked, “Is God’s Charity Broad Enough for Bears?” Johnson has been criticized by some Catholic groups because of her support for giving women greater authority in the church and her willingness to speak at meetings of Catholics who disagree with the church on some issues, but here she was greeted as a one who should be on a theological Mt. Rushmore because of her achievements and role in American theological thought.
Johnson told the packed auditorium that nineteenth century naturalist John Muir claimed God’s charity is broad enough for bears. If so, she asked us why believers and theologians haven’t stepped in to protect the earth from its destruction by human domination and consumerism. She presented one obstacle and proposed three remedies to this disastrous situation. Johnson posited that the major obstacle to protecting the earth is a theology that puts humans at the peak of a pinnacle, a little lower than God, but in dominion/domination above all creatures and the material world. Drawing from evolutionary science and Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’, she presented the challenge that loving the Earth and its species as a neighbor must become an intrinsic part of faith in God. She emphasized that humans are a part, not the pinnacle, and even a recent arrival according to evolutionary science, to the circle of creation.
After quoting extensively from Laudato Si’, Johnson proposed three spiritual practices to foster care for the earth: Contemplation, Asceticism, and Advocacy. Contemplation will bring us into connection with our true nature and our proper relationship with the earth and fellow creatures. An Asceticism that turns us from unbridled consumerism will allow us to recognize our appetites and will minimize our harming the rest of creation. Once we truly feel and accept that we are just a part of this vast community of creation we will feel impelled to Advocate for the well-being for the whole of creation.
We Affiliates have our work cut out for us! As the saying goes, if you’re not upset, you’re not paying attention. I hear that Affiliates are paying attention, they are upset, they have long been upset, and they are taking action.
In this issue, looking for long-term solutions, Marie Venner passionately insists we must end our addiction to fossil fuels for the good of her children, indeed all of our children’s children. Ron Covey, also looking to the future, focuses on the educating marginalized children in Guatemala City. Rosa Beatriz Castañeda de Larios, Guatemala Chapter, has devoted her life to education. Mef Ford tells us about the Boston Affiliate Chapter’s reflection on their careers, life choices, and service roles.
We know that not all of our efforts will be successful in the short term, but as St. Teresa of Calcutta reminds us, “God does not require us to be successful, only that we be faithful.”
I urge all Affiliates to examine your values and direction—with others in your chapter, if possible, to pray together, re-establish your priorities, and take action!
The Time is Now – "We are late in the game, so I must and will say very clearly: it is time for us to get off fossil fuels—now—all of us." – Marie Venner
Making Time for Kindness – The Affiliate Book Groups are enjoying reading the Orbis book, Abounding in Kindness, by Elizabeth Johnson.
On the Margins: Education and More – "We strive to be an important and accepted member of the community." – Ron Covey
What if 1.2 Billion Catholics Embraced Gospel Nonviolence? – "Which of the wars we have been in is a just war?" – Sister Matty, Mosul
"Light for the People" – "This year in April we mark the 30th anniversary of the assassination of Ben and his Nicaraguan co-workers." – Kitty Madden
Mission Journeys – "Many of our group came of age in the era of cinderblock bookcases, potted avocado plants, and Mateus wine bottle candleholders." – Mef Ford
Getting to Know the Guatemala Chapter – "Maryknoll Affiliates ... respond in community to the call of God to participate in the mission of Jesus." – Guatemala Chapter website
Rosa Beatriz—Educator for Life– She invited all of the attendees to make passion the key to their lives.
Update on MAC 2017 March/April 2017 – Forms for registration and post-conference mission visit options
The Challenge – "We all need to be wiling to be uncomfortable in the pursuit of justice, too." – Sr. Rose Marie Tresp, RSM
Communications Committee Update – Affiliates are asked to contact Bob if they would like their chapter highlighted (on the website).
Board to Meet in May – One area the Regional Coordinators (RCs) will review with the Board is how RCs are selected and how long they should serve.
Virtual Community? – "If you have thoughts or ideas, please let us know!"
Taste of Tanzania 2017 – "Don your African clothes and join us!"
Holy Week Discernment Retreat – "Are you called to Cross-Cultural Mission Service?"
A poem: Silent
A place to learn: Maryknoll Mission Institute 2017
A few announcements: March/April 2017
A Lenten reflection guide: Come Pray, Study, Act with Us
To view this issue in its print form, download the March/April 2017 PDF.
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.