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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After leaving Africa, Bertha Haas, now a Portland Affiliate, envisioned a compassionate community that would continue to support Huruma. Huruma is the school for disabled children that she founded in Tanzania ten years ago as a Maryknoll Lay Missioner. After she and Lay Missioners David and Caitlin Rosser of Seattle left Tanzania, no Maryknollers remained to work at the school, so Maryknoll can no longer provide support.
The involvement of the Maryknoll Affiliates and numerous other groups in the Portland area made Taste of Tanzania, a special dinner/fundraiser, very successful both financially and in forming community.
In the Jan/Feb NSFA, Fr. Gene Toland, MM, invited Maryknollers to enroll in U-Lab, a Massive Online Open Course (MOOC), offered by MIT and the Presencing Institute.
Thus several Affiliates, and 25,000 of our closest friends from around the world, signed up for the free six-week course based on Otto Scharmer and Katrin Kaufer’s book, Leading from the Emerging Future: from Ego-System to Eco-system Economies, Applying Theory U to Transforming Business, Society and Self. Ideally, participants met in small groups to watch the course’s videos, to prototype, and to receive coaching on their own projects face-to-face or by Skype.
As an NGO with UN consultative status, Maryknoll was present at events aligned with the UN Climate Change Conference held in Lima, Peru in December 2014. World leaders are working to establish the fundamentals of a strong, global agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, hopefully to be finalized in Paris in 2015.
The faith-based coalition OurVoices organized #LightForLIMA, a global, multi-faith prayer vigil held in locations around the world prior to the Lima Conference. They now invite us to join in prayers from our Ambassadors to inspire us for the road to Paris (http://ourvoices.net/limaprayers).
Maryknoll is one of nearly 100 Catholic national and international member groups in the newly formed Global Catholic Climate Movement (http://catholicclimatemovement.global/fast/).
This coalition of laity, religious, clergy, theologians, scientists, and activists agree with scientific findings that humanity’s greenhouse gas emissions contribute to widespread and mostly harmful changes to planetary systems. Its focus is on the moral and spiritual issues involved, and to raise awareness of Church teachings on the care of creation.
Is there a Peace Choir in your area? After seven years of organizing Search For Peace art events and participating in a weekly peace vigil, I thought I’d sought out everything peace-full in the Portland area. Last fall I was surprised to find the Portland Peace Choir on-line and then in person. Luckily, we were allowed to join the 50-person group without an audition. Since then, they have performed at a Martin Luther King, Jr., commemoration highlighting nonviolence and have sung African songs at Taste of Tanzania, a fundraiser for the Huruma school for disabled children.
The Peace Choir is clearly secular and has a repertoire that includes popular, ethnic, traditional civil rights, and even a few religious songs. They all highlight love, peace, nonviolence, and cooperation. We recently participated in a concert where five peace choirs, consisting of about 200 people from western Oregon, harmonized beautifully in sound and thought. We we told that peace choirs are a movement that is spreading across the country. What better way to make peace than to think peace, listen carefully, and live harmoniously in solidarity with your neighbors, wherever they may be. Sing out your gift of peace to the community.
The NE Florida affiliate community had a brief but joyous visit, which can most accurately be described as a holiday family visit, by a part of our extended Maryknoll family. On Dec 18, 2014, Sister Margarita Jamias, MM, shared with local affiliates and the wider community her passion for cosmology and the environment. Our chapter hosted a gathering where Sr. Margarita showed the video, Journey of the Universe, followed by a discussion of what moved and challenged us in the video.
For two weeks in mid-December Patty Barneond de Garcia Tres, Affiliate Board member and liaison to Latin America, and Bob Short traveled to Bolivia and Peru to meet with Affiliates and Maryknollers in those two countries. This is Bob’s second article on that trip.
Within two days after arriving in Cochabamba and meeting with the Affiliates there, it became apparent that something was different; that, in several ways, a different calculus was applied to how life is lived and mission embraced. As Patty and I continued our trip, visiting Santa Cruz and the Peruvian populations of Lima, Arequipa, and Chiguata, a small village in the mountains outside of Arequipa, that perception stayed with me.
Being Missionary Disciples in the spirit of Pope Francis drives Affiliates of the New Orleans Chapter in our many activities.
September: We gathered 16 strong at Mary Ann Becnel’s home on the Jordan River in Bay St. Louis for an end-of-summer day of prayer and planning. Symbols of the Maryknoll Affiliates pillars provided the backdrop for our day together. In this context, we set goals for the coming year.
They found him in chains—he and another boy who was also deaf. Someone brought the boys here to our Deaf Development Programme (DDP) in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where deaf students 15 years old and up learn sign-language, as well as basic education and life skills. By all indications, these two boys had been abused, traumatized, and isolated for a long time. Often, in remote villages, people do not understand deafness. The deaf person is thought to be mentally deficient, possessed, or even being punished for their or a parent’s wrongdoing.
Several JustFaith groups and the Portland Maryknoll Affiliates, inspired by our concern for social justice, combined efforts to educate about the death penalty in Oregon. We hoped to touch people emotionally and help them think in a new way about the death penalty.
Beth Begley, a very active Affiliate, exemplifies the partnering of Affiliates with other organizations. As a Pax Christi International UN Team member, she recently wrote, “Pax Christi International’s Vibrant Presence at the UN,” for the Pax Christi Winter 2014 newsletter: https://paxchristiusa1.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/winter2014newsletterweb.pdf. The article discussed the NGO Committee on Disarmament, Peace, and Security and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review.”
When asked what value she sees in partnering, Beth commented: “What I’m seeing are ever more converging and interwoven networks. Maryknoll Global Concerns is a member organization of Pax Christi International and there is a collaborative group in DC of Pax Christi International–USA, the DC Maryknoll Office, Sisters of Mercy, Columbans, and more who work together to inform and to help shape US policy. At the UN, committees of NGOs collaborate as well. I hope in our upcoming survey of ourselves as Affiliates, we will explore our various involvements and passions. This seems to be very much a sign of our times as we evolve...I have often thought, ‘How can we collaborate in terms of organizational structure and relationships?’ I think now that it is a matter of staying loose and flexible enough to respond to the opportunities and the challenges as they appear. What is your experience and your hope?”
This year, from October 15-19, the grand-daddy of all inter-faith assemblies will convene in Salt Lake City to celebrate “Reclaiming the heart of our humanity: Working together for a world of compassion, peace, justice and sustainability.” This Parliament of World Religions has quite a history, and I have gained much from my association with it.
The first Parliament of World Religions (http://www.parliamentofreligions.org/) took place September 11-27, 1893, and was a resounding success, with 4,000 participants and representatives from forty churches and traditions. With its goal to bring together in one place the many religious traditions of the world, it was hailed as a pioneering event. The goal was to express the harmony that can and should prevail among believers in God, despite our different garbs and tongues, traditions and rituals. Some established Christian churches were repulsed by the idea that leaders of non-Christian traditions would be included. Still the organizing went on.
Despite the bias toward European and North American Christian presence and organization, the breadth of topics and the extensive participation of believers of many traditions from many lands accounted for the very positive reactions to this event. It was perhaps the largest and most influential interfaith gathering among peoples of the world to date.
This Parliament resulted in the founding in 1900 in Boston the International Association for Religious Freedom (https://iarf.net), the first-ever international interfaith group. In 1936, Sir Francis Younghusband founded the World Congress of Faiths and in 1960, the dream of Judith Hollister came true in the Temple of Understanding. 1970 saw the birth of the World Conference on Religion and Peace (now Religions for Peace – http://www.rfpusa.org/). Their present secretary general is former Maryknoll Lay Missioner William Vendley, and our John McAuley, MM, worked there also. This legacy includes countless groups organized within many religious traditions dedicated to the dream of religious harmony and collaboration among all believers.
Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902) from India was an instant success from the start of his speech addressed to “Sisters and Brothers of America.” His guru Swami Ramakrishna was a reclusive renunciant in Calcutta, West Bengal, whose lineage has been propagated by the organizing efforts of his most famous disciple in the West as well as in India. I had the privilege of visiting his ashram and being the guest of the Ramakrishna Order while in India myself.
Swami Paramananda (1884-1940), an early disciple of Vivekananda, came to the United States in 1906 and established an ashram in Cohasset, Massachusetts. He later selected his niece Mataji Gayatri Devi (born in Barisal, Bangladesh) to direct the community at his passing. I had the privilege of knowing her; she initiated me as a sannyasin (renunciant). I maintain my contact with this inspiring community.
I attended the congress in Bangalore, India, organized by the four interfaith groups cited above. I had lived in Bangladesh from 1975 through 1981 and had been living since 1991 in West Bengal, so I already knew the Bengali language. The long discussions on the proposal from Hans Kung, “A Global Ethic,” were a salient feature of this congress.
Increasingly, I see how these events and encounters have enriched my life. My mind and heart and spirit have been expanded to become more tolerant, less inclined to judge. My perspective has become one of universalism, of respecting others as true believers in the one god of all. I see religious diversity as a gift helping us all to live by our faith traditions.
The new www.maryknollaffiliates.org is up and running! Opening the site, you will see that it looks and feels significantly different from the old website. The Affiliate Four Pillars: Spirituality, Community, Global Vision and Action, are prominently displayed on the home page. Visually, the formatting—
multi-colored layers and many more photos—engages the viewer from the outset. Navigating the new website is simpler and more intuitive. Our Affiliate site is bilingual and will carry copies of both newsletters, Not So Far Afield and No Tan Lejos del Horizonte, on both the English and Spanish home pages.
Compassion. It’s the theme of this issue, and the emphasis of Phase One of the JustFaith program. Compassion is a missioner’s hallmark and the first step to loving service. Appropriately, compassion is evident in the articles in this issue.
We feel a special compassion for Fr. Jim Madden who has done so much to spread and support the Affiliate Movement. A few years ago we roasted Sr. Ellen MacDonald as the mother of the Affiliate Movement. Jim Madden, who was co-coordinator with Ellen, should be considered our father. Remember him in your prayers as he deals with his illness.