When the opportunity has presented itself, I have enjoyed being physically present to engage in short-term mission work. However, this time the call came as a request for “someone to help update our website” in Chicago Affiliate Renate Schneider’s Haitian Connection newsletter. My husband and I had twice volunteered at the university she spearheaded after the 2011 earthquake, and we knew of some of the various programs Renate shepherds through her NGO. Having learned how to post articles on our Maryknoll Affiliates’ website and not having an overloaded schedule, I thought I could help support her efforts in this way.
The updating became a matter of starting a new website from scratch with a WordPress format, partly because I don’t know how to “write code,” the way her original website had been developed. I had to learn new skills even to do this, but no one else had offered to help, and Renate was extremely patient. After only about six months, off and on, we were able to launch the new website. From now on, my volunteer job will be only to post occasional updates.
Although I sat on my couch to do this volunteer work, I felt it was a worthwhile offering. My frequent struggles reminded me of one bible scholar’s comment that God asks us to perform from our weakness, not our strength. Maybe that’s so we’ll realize God was helping us when we succeed.
Besides sharing this experience to encourage you to be open to new ways of doing mission, I want to invite you to visit Renate’s new website:
Learn about the many initiatives she has developed—building homes for women, microcredit, small business startups, mental health programs, and more. Maybe you will see a way that you can help!
Co-editor Paula here, filling in for co-editor Mary as she and her husband Manny are on the road. I like to refer to them as the Affiliate ambassadors-at-large.
This issue is filled with Action and Community. Chapters from South Korea to Petaluma to Houston have reflected on their Affiliate lives. Mary and Manny report on chapters they visited as they crossed the US to attend the Maryknoll Affiliates’ April board meeting at the Maryknoll Sisters’ in Ossining, NY. That included participating in the Northeast Region’s conference on Balance (see page 1). To round out this issue, we have invitations to attend the Maryknoll Sisters’ Mission Institute, to take an online class, to get involved in Quo Vadis, or to read a good book.
On Mary and Manny’s return trek, they have visited several more chapters, which we’ll hear about in the next issue. As they travel, they are organizing a Northwest Regional mini-conference on active nonviolence for September 22 in Portland. (See this page!) Mary says, “Y’all come!”
To read this issue in print form, you may download a pdf of the May/June 2018 Not So Far Afield.
A big part of my work is helping people process and relate to encounters with social and economic inequality, and to do so with the intentionality necessary to develop nuanced, respectful responses that engender authentic solidarity. This requires my own continued examination of common reactions by privileged people to encounters with people in more marginalized positions, and to develop intentional language to preempt, challenge, and reframe those reactions.
In that vein, I’ve been thinking a lot about the all too common takeaway, “They’re poor, but they’re joyful.” I’m not unique in feeling that this language is problematic (to paraphrase Paul Farmer in regard to impoverished Haitians: they may have nice smiles and good senses of humor, but they still know they’re living in desperate conditions). But I am finding it necessary to more thoughtfully reflect on what accounts for this reaction, what truths are present within it, and, more importantly, why we need to challenge others (and ourselves) to think and speak differently.
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” —Mary Oliver
My wife, Jane, and I joined 21 Maryknoll jubilarians, who were marking 65th, 60th, 50th, or 40th anniversaries of ordination last June. The two-day celebration involved small gatherings of families and friends, as well as a huge and colorful liturgy in the chapel. Representatives of the four Maryknoll expressions—the Society, Congregation, Lay Missioners, and Affiliates—attended, and the chapel’s walls and windows reverberated with the sounds of brass horns, basses, and drums in full accompaniment.
After filling up on the spirit in the liturgy, we feasted on that special Maryknoll hospitality, a picnic with no end to the variety and quantity of food. People may not live by bread alone, but food is a good place to start.
Until a few weeks ago, there were two Affiliate virtual chapters. The first has six members crossing three U.S. time zones and has met three times. The second is a contemplative virtual chapter that focuses on reflective conversation and prayer. Members from both of these chapters have spoken very positively about how meaningful the experiences have been.
On Sunday, October 1st, a third, hybrid Affiliate chapter entered the virtual Maryknoll Affiliate world. Approximately 15 members from three continents and as many countries: Kenya, Germany, and the US—crossing too many time zones to count—held their first meeting. This hybrid virtual chapter evolved from the creative vision and organizational acumen of Gerald Grudzen, PhD, and Marita Grudzen, who have been connected to Maryknoll in several capacities for many years.
Easy Meeting: Family – The Affiliate Community – The Kin-dom of God
(To reprint this Easy Meeting on two pages, go to the Download: Not So Far Afield – Supplemental Material – 2016 09 10 Easy Meeting.)
Begin by reading “Family of God” (Maryknoll Book of Prayer, page 18):
“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”—John 13:34-35
The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts. … If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is part of it.-—1 Corinthinians 12:12, 26-27
Nothing can separate us from the love of God and nothing can separate us from each other. We are made in the image and likeness of God.
Prayer begins with the awesome recognition of our oneness with God. It continues with the realization of our unity with each other. We are all members of one family—the family of God. Let us Pray.
Read the articles mentioned below from the September/October 2016 NSFA, and consider these questions:
1. Compare your experience of family with that in the article from NTLH, “Family in Guatemala.”
3. How does your Affiliate community prefigure the Kin-dom of God?
Close with the prayer, “God made us a family” (Maryknoll Book of Prayer, page 19):
God made us a family
We need one another
We love one another
We forgive one another
We work together
We play together
We worship together
Together we use God’s word
Together we grow in Christ
Together we love all people
Together we serve our God
Together we hope for Heaven
These are our hopes and ideals.
Help us to attain them, O God,
Through Jesus Christ our Lord.
—Florence Sossong, Pittsburgh, PA
South Central Region Affiliate Conference
New Orleans - September 30 to October 2, 2016
Registration for the upcoming Maryknoll Mission Immersion Program in Guatemala, October 9 - 17, closes on August 15th.
Check Guatemala Immersion for full information.
Has your chapter planned an action for Campaign Nonviolence week, September 18-25? In the past, several chapters have joined the hundreds of other groups around the world who take action nonviolently to abolish war, end poverty, reverse climate change, and challenge all violence. See http://www.paceebene.org/ for ideas or to find a local action to join.
The Mission Institute offers six-day programs (Sunday-Friday) May-October, 2016. Upcoming programs:
July 10-15 Robert Ellsberg, MA
Saints, Prophets and Witnesses for Our Time will challenge us to think more creatively about being faithful and active in our own historical context.
July 17-22 Maria Teresa Davila, PhD
Embodying the Option for the Poor explores the theological insights in the context from which the phrase sprang and in our current contexts.
July 24-29 John F. Haught, PhD
Religion and the Cosmic Story: A Look Inside studies the new framework for understanding our species’ ageless religious quest, in conversation with both Christian Theology and contemporary scientific naturalism.
Sept. 25-30 in Monrovia, CA and Oct. 3-6 in Los Altos, CA: Margaret Silf, MA
Living God’s Dream
Online registration is available, or write for forms:
Maryknoll Mission Institute, Maryknoll Sisters
P.O Box 311, Maryknoll, NY 10545-0311
Tel: 914-941-7575 @ 5671
Emusoi Center in Arusha, Tanzania (http://emusoicentre.co.tz/), founded by Sr. Mary Vertucci MM, continues to help Maasai girls get an education and delay marriage and child-bearing until they’re ready, but needs scholarships for fees and books for secondary school and college. Donations should be sent through the Maryknoll Sisters.
Caminando Por La Paz – Guatemala (http://www.caminandogua.org/) needs angels! $500/year or $50/month supports the education of one student. Angels receive periodic information from the student they sponsor. Your contributions in any amount will assist greatly in Caminando’s efforts to continue the wonderful work initiated by founder Father Thomas Goekler, MM.
It had to happen! With about forty respondents to the Book Group invitation, multiple discussion groups became necessary. The organizing team of Bob Short, Mary Ryan-Hotchkiss, and Paula Schaffner offered several options, and participants were grouped by choosing their preferred meeting time. The first meetings of the resulting Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday groups, via telephone conference calls, occurred starting June 20th. As of July 1, most groups will have discussed Chapter 1 of Ilia Delio’s Making All Things New.
If you can’t participate in a Book Group, you could read the book on your own or with your chapter and see the updates and comments on the Maryknoll Affiliates’ Facebook page. You could even add your own comments on Facebook.
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.
We offer these pages as a quick meeting format or for you to enjoy by yourself.