Not So Far Afield is a bimonthly publication of the Maryknoll Affiliates. The name is a play on the title of the original Maryknoll Magazine: The Field Afar.
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Having served nine years in Tanzania as a Maryknoll Lay Missioner, I return annually to visit my favorite project, Huruma, a Special Education Unit. This year I visited in August. As we start a new school year here, Huruma students are well into their second semester. So many awe-inspiring developments in the past year!
Beginning January 2019, five elementary schools in our district have been selected to begin inclusion of students with disabilities. At least fifteen Huruma deaf and/or physically impaired students in grades 4-7 will begin attending classes at Pasiansi Elementary School, enthusiastically welcomed by the Head Teacher.
Training in life skills is now possible because of a donor-built wall keeping out the goats, cows and careless passersby. The garden begun in April survived the dry season, providing greens for the students’ daily meal, as well as food for their families, with enough left for sale. Avocado trees and flowers flourish. The seven tire swings bring joy to the students. It was great to see teachers take students outside for instruction.
In addition to the gardening program, parents are promoting a peanut butter industry. Carpentry is picking up again. Perhaps tailoring will be able to resume also.
My heart overflows with gratitude for the dedicated staff at Huruma and our generous donors who make it possible.
The one sad spot is that staff did not receive a raise in July to offset inflation. To remedy that, it’s imperative that we have a successful Taste of Tanzania on February 16, 2019. Can’t attend? Participate by sending your donation to Huruma Chapter KILEO, PO Box 244, Cornelius, OR 97113.
The Maryknoll Affiliate Pillars of Spirituality, Community, Global Vision, and Action are all great topics for an Affiliate meeting, especially when inviting new people who may not know much about Maryknoll.
At our Affiliate luncheon on the last day of the Northwest Mission Nonviolence mini regional conference, we invited visitors to join us and we focused on the Maryknoll Affiliates’ pillar of Global Vision. To emphasize Global Vision, we planned our meal to have a Middle Eastern flavor.
Catherine “Kitty” Madden has lived and worked in Nicaragua since 1986, first as a Maryknoll Lay Missioner, then as a Maryknoll Affiliate. Read her unabridged article at https://maryknollogc.org/article/nicaragua-speaking-truth-power.
In August, we gathered to mourn the death of our neighbor, “Juan,” killed by a sniper who fired on a peaceful protest, and to share our sympathies with his mother, wife, and children.
Just last April, Nicaragua was still hailed as “the most peaceful country in Central America.” Many people entered the country each day, to provide humanitarian aid, to enjoy its beauty and the people’s warm hospitality or to invest in its thriving economy. On the surface, things seemed quite perfect! However, just as with its volcanoes, something very charged was growing beneath the surface. No one could have imagined the catastrophic changes about to emerge.
In 32 years, I lived under the revolutionary Sandinista government in the 1980s. The FSLN (Sandinista national liberation front) had toppled the dictator Anastasio Somoza and his family dynasty in an insurrection that claimed 50,000 lives. In the 1980s, I anguished at the US backing (if not instigation) of the Contra War that ended in 1990, after taking another 30,000 lives and maiming thousands of others.
I had been involved with the Maryknoll Affiliates since the first conference of Maryknoll Affiliates held here at Maryknoll and was a part-time member of the Westchester Chapter before I returned to Korea. In Korea, some other Sisters and I decided to invite the Maryknoll Fathers in Korea to join us in starting a Maryknoll Affiliate Chapter there. However, it was not accepted by some of the members, although a couple of Maryknoll Fathers, including Russ Feldmeier, joined us occasionally.
The Maryknoll Sisters decided to have a retreat with the prospective interested members, and at the end of the retreat, we explained about the Affiliate program—its covenant, etc., and each one of them decided to join. There were about eight to ten members at that time. We had monthly reflection and study of the covenant and other articles about the Affiliate movement. They had faithfully come to monthly meetings, even though they were not officially accepted as Maryknoll Affiliates. After ten years, they finally got approval, when the Maryknoll Affiliate Board were given the responsibility to approve new chapters.
About my background: I was born in the Philippines. After I finished Nursing training and worked for a year in the Philippines, I ventured out to work in the US and Canada. It was in Montreal that I decided to become a missionary. I entered Maryknoll in 1976 and was assigned to Korea in 1978, where I worked in a Psychiatric Clinic. In 1984, I did pastoral ministry with the urban poor, living in an integrated community of clergy, religious and lay people. We made home visits, listened to people’s issues and needs, organized scripture study groups, and gave spiritual direction and pastoral counseling. From 1988-90, I continued to work with the urban poor and with Korean factory workers in other areas. Then I returned to Maryknoll, NY, for Congregational Service, and when I went back to Korea, I continued my work with women and also with migrant workers and women married to Koreans. After several years I returned to NY to do another Congregational Service and later on was elected to our leadership.
Because of my interest in our Affiliate movement, I am happy to be one of the liaisons to the Maryknoll Affiliates. It has been a delight to get to know many Affiliates and see the wonderful works you are involved in for the sake of the Gospel.
Several Affiliates have found Mission Institute programs
to be rich sources of strength and inspiration.
Which Mission Institute 2019 offering speaks to you?
May 12-17 All the Light We Need – Sr. Nancy Schreck, OSF, D.Min
May 19-24 Oasis in the Overwhelmed – Millie Grenough, MAT
June 7-9 Mission Empowered by Love – Marie Dennis, MA
Releasing the Fire Within – Sr. Claudette LaVerdiere, MM
June 16-21 Traveling the Road to Joy with Thomas Merton and Friends – Christine Bochen, PhD
June 23-28 Mission Inter Gentes: Egalitarian Missiology for the 21st Century - Diarmuid O’Murchu, MSC
July 7-12 Listening for the Heartbeat of God: A Celtic Spirituality – Rev. John Philip Newell, PhD, and Cami Twilling
July 14-19 Teilhard and Struggle: Drawn to the Road of Fire – Sr. Kathleen Duffy, SSJ, PhD
July 21-26 Sacred Heart of the Cosmos: Mission Spirit in Modern Time – Br. Mickey McGrath, OSFS, MFA
September: Programs in California
Find the complete schedule through September and application forms at:
Register online or request an application form by:
Phone: 914-941-7575 @ 5671
Mail: Maryknoll Mission Institute
PO Box 311
Maryknoll, NY 10545-0311
Coming from our regional conference on nonviolence and then the Affiliate Board and RC meeting, I am energized by the possibilities for connecting.
Rich Lessard, our newly elected Board Chair, seeks stronger connections among leadership, Affiliates, and chapters, with the other Maryknoll entities, and indeed among all of us as leaven in our communities.
In this issue, the Pinneys from Walla Walla, WA, who have worked quietly for years with their Guatemalan sister parish, now reach out to Affiliates. New Orleans Affiliates made friends with immigrants at the border. David Stocker asks us to join him at the November SOAWatch/Encuentro at the US-Mexico Border. Kevin Carroll, Maryknoll Office For Global Concerns, invites us to advocate for the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative, substituting Just Peace for Just War.
The Affiliate Movement empowers us to connect and to prototype our ideas for mission. At the Board meeting, we were urged not to fear failure as we develop prototypes, rather to fail fast, to iterate, and to progress, perhaps not perfectly, but one step at a time. We are seeing the fruits of a prototype virtual chapter. Technology means geography need not limit our connections. Mission is wherever we are and wherever we can connect!
Articles in this issue:
Our Long-Term Mission - "They found vibrant activity in Sololá but also great need."—Judy Pinney
The Art of Nonviolence - "The nonviolent direct action we have learned can be applied to many issues in our world, ... making our resistance creative and vibrant."—David Stocker
NW Regional Mini-Conference on Peace and Nonviolence - "[Rivera Sun's] statistics that nonviolence succeeds more often than violence for regime change, civil rights actions, and fair working conditions were heartening."—David Stocker
Mission in the Texas Rio Grande Valley - "Education, Engagement and Empowerment became a theme for me."—Janet Rousso
Texas-Mexico Border Accompaniment - "... I see faces of real people and their fortitude, belief in God, endurance."—Kim Nunez
Mass of Solidarity and Hope - "The palpable spirit of the gathering, rooted deep in our Catholic faith, was the desire to express concern for and solidarity with immigrants."—Joe Hastings
Peru Affiliates—Moving Spirituality - Carlos Apcho says he uses Google Translator to read the Not So Far Afield.
The Board and EC Speak:
On the Way from the Forum - "A movement must have connection, without which there can be no Movement."—Rich Lessard
In February, Chris Pinney, his son Zac, and four others visited programs, interviewed people, and videotaped footage in Sololá Diocese, Guatemala, the sister diocese of Spokane, WA, Diocese.They found vibrant activity in Sololá but also great need. The video was shown at the Sixth Annual Mission Celebration in Spokane, also attended by Ralph Maughan, Seattle Affiliate and Regional Coordinator, and Bob McFarland of North Bay, CA, Chapter.
Have you had an inspiring experience on a FAB trip? Do you know someone who may make a great lay missioner? We invite you to join one of our upcoming webinars—with me! I will share some of my experiences in Cambodia, as well as all the nuts and bolts of becoming a lay missioner.
The upcoming webinars are:
November 15, 5pm EST – login to zoom.us/j/995940923
December 2, 11am EST – login to zoom.us/j/326958422
A funny thing happened on the way to the Forum! Not the Broadway musical; this Forum is a room in the Maryknoll Sisters’ Center House in Maryknoll, NY—where our Board gathered in October, and I was elected Chairperson of the Affiliate Board! I would never have imagined myself as chairperson when I began as a Maryknoll Affiliate 11 years ago.
On my way home that day, I reflected on my life as an Affiliate, and about how best to positively impact the Affiliates. So, by way of introduction, I am sharing some thoughts as I begin this new endeavor with you.
Have you heard about the upcoming national protest against US immigration policy and against the half century of US government sponsored mayhem that has compounded the immigration crisis at the US southern border? The Border Encuentro and Vigil, organized by the School of Americas WATCH (SOAW) will take place November 15-18 on both sides of the US/ Mexico border wall in Nogales, Arizona.
A project of Pax Christi International, The Catholic Nonviolence Initiative, or CNI, is a global effort affirming the vision and practice of active nonviolence at the heart of the Catholic Church. It grew out of the landmark Nonviolence and Just Peace Conference held in Rome in April 2016, which was co-sponsored by the Holy See’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Pax Christi International, and other organizations, including Maryknoll. Leaders include Ken Butigan of Pace e Bene and DePaul University, and Marie Dennis of Pax Christi International.
With about 60 people in attendance, keynote presenter Rivera Sun, well known for her popular fictions, Billionaire Buddha and The Dandelion Insurrection, was right on. The Dandelion Insurrection follows a colorful cast of activist characters in a society that is crumbling from the weight of capitalism and empire. Drawing from her other career as a nonviolence trainer for Pace e Bene, she told real his-stories and her-stories of people who changed the world without violence. Her statistics that nonviolence succeeds more often than violence for regime change, civil rights actions, and fair working conditions were heartening.
Rivera gave us tools to mount our own campaign. She walked us through Goals, Strategy, Targets, Participants, Duration and timing, and Resources and risks; then we considered how to apply these tools in our area of interest during breakout sessions.
In the breakout sessions, the afternoon presenters included Benneth Husted on the subject of nonviolent resistance in Palestine, Ethan Livermore of the Poor People’s Campaign, Maxine Fookson of the Interfaith Movement for Immigrant Justice (Imirj), and Peter Bergel offered strategic guidance for non-violent campaigns and great music! Each presenter modeled ways to move deeper into that list of nonviolent strategies.
Kevin Carroll, Nonviolence and Peace Fellow with the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns (MOGC), brought us up to date on the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative (CNI), a global effort affirming the vision and practice of active nonviolence. It calls on the Church to promote nonviolent practices and strategies and no longer use or teach the “just war theory.” See Kevin’s article, "Just War or Just Peace?"
David Stocker. I count myself privileged to have also been a presenter, telling about Border Encuentro, which takes place November 15-18 in Nogales, AZ. See my article, "The Art of Nonviolence."
March and pray. Before our Saturday afternoon Mass, we took to the streets to demonstrate our newfound active nonviolence skills, using our voices, signs, and drums.
Friday dinner. Affiliates and presenters broke bread together at the Hotchkiss home, celebrating International Peace Day. After a delicious meatless meal, we discussed, “How can Maryknoll Affiliates help build a nonviolent community?” Tom Hastings, from Portland State University, said peace is on the path to being a separate educational discipline.
Sunday lunch. Our final gathering focused on Global Vision. Over a Mediterranean themed meal, we shared some of the places in the world with which we feel a special connection. Watch for an Easy Meeting about this in our next issue!
In June, 12 of us set out for the Rio Grande Valley with Fr. Gerry Kelly, MM, and Matt Rousso, a Maryknoll Mission Educator and Promoter. We were not sure what to expect since the US government had recently initiated Zero Tolerance for refugees and asylees, and hundreds of children were being separated from their parents and put in detention facilities.
On our mission visits, we were filled with deep sadness and much anger at what we saw. Our desire to offer the migrants smiles of welcome and words of friendship grew stronger each day. We wanted to be in solidarity with the so-called “illegal aliens” and visit with the poor living in the Valley, hear their stories, and, in some small way, bring them our love.
Our mission program (see Janet Rousso’s article) was an accompaniment, rather than doing for, as we connected with the people whom we visited. Little did we know when we planned the trip in the fall of 2017 that we would be there during the height of the Zero Tolerance Policy for migrants seeking refuge and asylum—and that hundreds of children were being put in detention facilities and separated from their mothers and fathers.
We spent time at the Border Wall and with the ARISE and Proyecto Juan Diego programs, both located in the heart of the colonias, getting to know families they served. While at Proyecto Juan Diego, we also sat in on a citizenship class as residents prepared and learned about being citizens in the United States. At La Posada and the Respite Center in McAllen, which serve mostly refugees, we met people from the Ukraine, the Congo, Mozambique, Guatemala, and Mexico. The Respite Center, a few blocks from the bus station in McAllen, serves both those coming into the US initially and others after they leave detention, who will join family/friends in another part of the country while they await a court date.
But what happened to me during my visit and has continued upon my return? I was transformed by the people I spent time with: Rosa, Julia, & Mario, to name a few. Immigrant, refugee, and migrant are no longer just words; I see faces of real people and their fortitude, belief in God, endurance. It has moved me to tears and changed my prayer time. While immigration was something I cared deeply about before going, I am still carrying the people who live and work in the Lower Rio Grande Valley in my heart. Now that I am home, I have begun to share the story—most people have reacted by saying thank you, because they understand the situation much better than they ever could by watching tv or reading about it. Perhaps my transformation can also open the eyes and hearts of others; that may be exactly why taking part in a mission program is so valuable. We accompanied each other there, but the people of the Lower Rio Grande Valley continue to accompany me in my thoughts, heart, and prayer. As I reflect and pray, Matthew’s words now have more meaning and impact than ever:
I was a stranger and you welcomed me.