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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Two days before the People’s Climate March, I learned that groups were to meet at specific locations, such as religious groups at Columbus Circle. Riding there in a half-filled subway car, I was relieved to immediately see a Maryknoller! I didn’t see many more until the march started, when Beth Begley and I were trying to maintain a curbside seat.
The “biggest climate march in history” left Central Park and headed toward lower Manhattan and the NYC waterfront on 6th Avenue. Crowds watched and cheered us as we went by. It was hard to keep up with the banner-carrying Maryknollers, mostly priests. I saw Affiliates Margaret and Adel, with a group from their parish.
Greater Los Angeles and San Diego Chapter Affiliates became familiar with peace activist Fr. John Dear’s work while preparing to co-sponsor the 2010 Western Regional Affiliate Conference. Since Fr. John was our keynote speaker, both chapters began studying his latest book. He spoke passionately about following the non-violent Jesus and offered us the opportunity to take the vow of non-violence. Many of us continued studying his work and listened to his speeches when he spoke in our area.
It is clear that Maryknoll’s role in God’s mission is, like many human endeavors in these times, arriving at a “profound historical turning point.” This phrase was used by Joe Holland in his presentation at the 2012 “Mission in the Future” symposium, held at Maryknoll, NY. The event was prepared by the four Maryknoll entities: the Affiliates, the Lay Missioners, the Fathers and Brothers, and the Maryknoll Sisters.
I thank the Affiliates and our Board for the privilege of representing them at the General Assembly (GA) of the Maryknoll Sisters. 144 voting Sister Delegates came to set their directions and policies and to elect new leadership for the Congregation. Other official but non-voting participants included: Fr. Jack Sullivan – Society, Margaret (Peg) Vamosy – Lay Missioners, and Mary Elizabeth (Mef) Ford –Full Circle.
Around the world in 18 days! My wife, Denise, and I recently participated in the Maryknoll Lay Missioner’s Friends Across Borders (FAB) program in Cambodia.
”So, how was your trip?”—I find myself entertaining this question in my first weeks home. How do I capture the essence of this Cambodian FAB experience? How do I explain the transformation working inside me? After a chuckle—they don’t realize how loaded the question is—I exclaim, “It was great!” an accurate, though short, response. But if the questioner is interested, I’ll explain that the trip was a mission awareness experience and that we visited with a number of Maryknoll Lay Missioners, Sisters, and Fathers. I’ll highlight some of their various ministries, and provide some context to the plight of the Cambodian people, past and present. Often, I’ll mention my blog of each day’s activities. This response still doesn’t capture the richness of the experience, though.
Several challenging and grace-filled moments are currently shaping the life of the Affiliate movement: our June MAC 2014 conference, the recent Maryknoll Society Chapter, the Maryknoll Congregation General Assembly (GA), and world events ranging from tragic wars in Syria to the inspiring leadership of Pope Francis. Aware of these influences, the Affiliate Board gathered October 17-19 to engage in a process of visioning, direction setting, and needs assessment for the Affiliate movement. We want to listen deeply and create a process inviting all Affiliates to discern with us. Where and how do we see the Affiliate movement now? How are recent experiences shaping our future direction?
Translated from “Hay miles de Esterellas en Bolivia,” which appeared in the October 2014 issue of No Tan Lejos del Horizonte.
Estrella (Spanish for Star) is a girl in the Educational Support Program of the Parish of Our Lady of La Salette in Cochabamba, Bolivia. She’s probably not one of the best students in her school. Sometimes it’s hard to motivate her when she has a task. One day in particular, she had to work on a project for Mother’s Day. As she made no progress, I tried to help her think with a question. “How are moms?” I asked. “Bad,” she said. I thought she was joking with her answer. So I told her to continue working and I would return later.
Catherine (Kitty) Madden – Affiliate
In Nicaragua’s Northern Highlands, since Casa Materna began in 1990, Maryknoll has been present through the Sisters, Fathers, Lay Missioners and later the Affiliates. This October 31st we celebrated the 24th anniversary of the Casa, and 23 years of service to over 17,000 rural mothers with high-risk pregnancies. To all of the Maryknoll family we give thanks for the many ways in which you have accompanied us, spiritually and financially, during these first 24 years.
The Oceana Gold mining company, owner of the El Dorado mine, uses its deep pockets to influence politicians, coerce support in communities desperate for funds, and intimidate opponents. A decision on the legal future of the mine is now with the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), a World Bank “court” in Washington, DC, far away from anyone who lives in the threatened areas of El Salvador.
Dan Driscoll-Shaw – Chicago Central Chapter
Maryknollers are experienced in immersing ourselves in another culture. Our Chicago Central Chapter recently helped seven Chinese priests and sisters immerse themselves in the best of our American culture, at least for a day. The Sunday before Thanksgiving, we invited them to share in our traditional Thanksgiving feast.
Wholemaking permeated the Maryknoll Sisters’ General Assembly according to John Moritz, Maryknoll Affiliate and Southeast Regional Coordinator. John reports on his participation at the General Assembly in this issue. In our next issue, John Meyer, Phoenix Affiliate and Board Member, will reflect on the “Dream” of the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers’ Chapter Meeting. The Affiliate Board also envisions our wholemaking and will be asking for Affiliate input.
This issue demonstrates that Affiliates are part of the wholemaking: in Chicago, sharing a Thanksgiving meal with Chinese visitors; in Cambodia, sharing time with missioners; and locals in Bolivia and Nicaragua sharing their time with children and pregnant women.
On the streets of cities across the US, Affiliates address wholemaking by recognizing our need for nonviolence and to care for creation.
Be watching for the launch of the new Affiliate web site, which acknowledges the whole of the Affiliate world and celebrates the crucial role of Latino Affiliate chapters.
Watch your mailboxes for the coming 2015 Appeal letter inviting you to help keep the Affiliates financially healthy.
Denver Affiliate Marie Venner, who serves on several professional committees related to climate change and has written passionately about it, asks: Are any Maryknollers planning on going to the climate meeting in Lima in December, 2014?
To go to the article, click on the title:Reverse Cultural Immersion – "We are fortunate to have these Chinese priests and sisters close by. ... They are very much involved with Maryknoll, both the Society and our Affiliate group." – Dan Driscoll Shaw Summer 2015 Western Region Conference – "Now is a great time to plan for next summer in the Pacific Northwest." – Kitty Schiltz
El Salvador Mining Struggles Continue – "People in Cabañas make their living on small farms, and they can’t do that without water." – Joe Hastings
Thousands of Stars in Bolivia – "Stories like [Estrella's] are the reason members of Maryknoll in Bolivia, including myself, a Maryknoll Affiliates in Cochabamba, participate in the project of human rights along with other religious congregations." – Jason Obergfell
Casa Materna Mary Ann Jackman Celebrates 24 years! – "To all of the Maryknoll family we give thanks for the many ways in which you have accompanied us, spiritually and financially, during these first 24 years." – Kitty Madden
Mission and Wholemaking in a Time of Uncertainty – "May we be open to the Spirit and the surprises that await us." – Ann Carr
Joy of the Gospel… in Cambodia – "It takes time, reflection, and patience with oneself; you need to marinate in the experience—mind, body, and soul—to figure out what happened to you before you can convey it to others." – Rich Lessard
Wholemaking at the Maryknoll Sisters’ General Assembly – "I cannot tell you how often I heard comments like, “I want to become more involved with the Affiliates,” or “How can I start an Affiliate Chapter?” – John Moritz
Maryknoll Today and The Maryknoll of Tomorrow – "Imagination is a wonderful, freeing gift. It is the stuff of mystics and prophets, contemplatives and missioners. " – Ann Hayden, MM
The Next four articles tell of Chapters in Action. Many Affiliates and chapters were involved in actions the week of Sept. 21 to 27 on behalf of Campaign Nonviolence and Climate Change.People’s Climate March – New York – "When we reached the plaza at the Javits Center, it was jammed-packed, with many more marchers than they were prepared for—400,000, not the 100,000 predicted!" – Jo Albright; Denver Interfaith Gathering – The inter-faith group included Moslems, Buddhists, Protestant and Catholics, ..." – Larry Griffin; “People-Planet-Peace” – "Reno, Sparks, Carson, and the Nevada State Governor’s office made Peace Day proclamations that were on display, and participating groups offered involvement opportunities." – Ellie Hays LA Affiliates and Campaign Non-violence – "Campaign Nonviolence plans to be a long-term movement to promote peaceful solutions to the problems we face in our violent world." – Kathee Hennigan Bautista
Survey Results Are In! – Most of you enjoy reading NSFA and Maryknoll magazine. We shamelessly believe all the nice things you said about the NSFA! – Mary Ryan-Hotchkiss
Love in Action, the theme of the 2015 Western Region Maryknoll Affiliates Conference, is also a fitting theme for this issue of the NSFA. Indeed, Love in Action pretty well describes Maryknoll Affiliates and our Four Pillars of Spirituality, Community, Global Vision, and Action. The love in this issue acting in at least 13 locations in 8 different countries, including Brazil, Tanzania, Oregon, Florida, and Guatemala, and in our reaching out to immigrants.
In the secular news we see that the lack of love leads to violence, torture, fear, exploitation, and discrimination. While most of us experience some level of privilege, we also have occasionally felt fear and discrimination. We know that when violence is an acceptable response, no one is safe.
In No Tan Lejos del Horizonte, our Spanish Affiliate newsletter, an Affiliate from Merida, Mexico, Cecilia Quijano asks us to respond with Love and Action to the disappearance of 43 students in Ayotzinapa, Mexico. She says, (translated from the Spanish):
“Prayer has helped us to collect our thoughts and feelings and leads us to act. Small or large, easy or difficult, actions arising from reflection and discernment of the Christian values that we hold will have an impact on building a culture of peace, so necessary for everyone.”
Articles: (Click on the title to go to the article.)
My Adventures in Mission – “I am amazed at how many skills and experiences I draw upon as a missioner.” – Carolyn Trumble
Ayotzinapa – “We must recognize that this event is not isolated from others.” – Cecelia Quijano
Daring to Dream Anew – “The entire Chapter proceedings were imbued with the spirit of prayer to discern what the Spirit is calling Maryknoll to today in her mission endeavors.” – John Meyer
Angels Come in All Sizes – “Your support of the Affiliates has been outstanding. Over the past four years, the number of contributors has increased sharply, from 120 to 190 households.” – Dave Schaffner
You Are Invited! – “The most important dimension of all great leadership—Who am I? What am I here for?” – Gene Toland, MM
A Tanzanian Seminary for Girls – “God is in us, with us, working through us. Working with the kids, you see God’s presence.” – Agnes Menard
Taste of Tanzania to Help disabled Children – “Huruma means compassion in Swahili, the local language in Tanzania. The disabled children at Huruma truly need compassion and in many ways are the poorest of the poor.” – Bertha Haas
The Way & Maryknoll – “How does this ‘mission trip’ relate to our Chapter?” – Carol-Ann Black
Let There Be Light! - “In the evening, the lamp provides enough light to illuminate their small dwelling while the family completes their routine of prayer, study, and family meal.” – Curt Klueg
Visiting Bolivia & Peru – “We did not ask, but in every gathering they spontaneously spoke of how Maryknoll priests, sisters, brothers and, where present, lay missioners gave them a sense of self-dignity and missionary vision.” – Bob Short
Caminando Continues – “We constantly try to improve the program and to foster positive change in this small corner of the world—Paraiso II, Zone 18, one of the most marginalized, impoverished, violent zones in Guatemala City.” – Ron Covey
Be sure to check out our Events—upcoming Western Regional Affiliate Conference, and Features—book review, prayer, and news notes!
Many Affiliate Chapters are collaborating with:
JustFaith Ministries: http://justfaith.org/
Pace e Bene: http://paceebene.org/programs/campaign-nonviolence/
Pax Christi: http://paxchristiusa.org
Ron Covey – Houston Chapter
Since the death of Father Thomas Goekler, MM, in 2010, Caminando Por La Paz – Guatemala has been run by Maryknoll Affiliates, guided by the Affiliate Four Pillars. We believe that this is the only mission program originally established by Maryknoll Fathers, Brothers, or Sisters that is now run by Affiliates.
In the April/May, 2011, Not So Far Afield, we described our efforts to continue Father Thomas’ work. We constantly try to improve the program and to foster positive change in this small corner of the world—Paraiso II, Zone 18, one of the most marginalized, impoverished, violent zones in Guatemala City.
Education. Lack of education in the general population is one of the major problems in Guatemala; it leads to persistent poverty and violence and is undoubtedly connected to the US’s immigration issues. Although Guatemala does provide public education, students pay for books, school supplies, uniforms, etc. For the poor in society, those with a third grade education are considered fortunate. For these reasons, education is our primary focus.
We currently tutor 23 students who are still in school, plus another 25-30 others. Thanks to a grant we received from Cross Catholic International, we have been able to expand this program, not only providing educational materials, but also offering nutritious food prior to tutoring sessions. The latter has greatly improved our attendance rates. Our children now show up early, with their plates, and of course, better food makes for more focus and readiness to learn.
Spirituality. We now offer a weekly holy hour, held on Friday afternoons and led by a nun from the local parish. We begin it with a prayer or two and perhaps a hymn. The main activity, however, is to read and discuss the scripture readings of the next Sunday’s liturgy. Not only has the number of regular participants increased, but we have been blessed by people of the neighborhood, who, on their own initiative, are now providing light refreshments—perhaps a sign that our efforts to build a sense of self-responsibility are paying off.
During the past year, donors financed our two spiritual pilgrimages. Last December, we took a group of neighbors to Esquipulas, where they could encounter the “Christo Negro,” a black crucifix believed to be the source of many miracles.
In early August, we held our second pilgrimage, this time taking about 25 neighbors over the mountain to Antigua. In the morning we visited music and coffee museums, both tourist attractions. On this trip, we treated participants to lunch on a friend’s patio. In the afternoon, Edwin Bejarano spoke about the life of Hermano Pedro, a local saint who was canonized on July 30, 2002 by Pope John Paul II. After his lecture, Bejarano took us on a walk through the city, visiting various places that had been important in the life of Hermano Pedro.
Other Projects. We remodeled a neighborhood volunteer’s home—a small, single-room house with leaking roof and dirt floor. A key member of a growing group of neighborhood volunteers, she is a single mother with four children. Although the changes we made would not be considered much of an improvement in the US, we were able to divide the space into a small kitchen and separate living area. (We have been blessed as well, because she is one of the cooks who prepare the food we provide during tutoring sessions.)
Our second project was to improve a local soccer field, smoothing out the terrain and providing some shelter over the bleachers. We also painted the seating area and goal posts.
Lastly, after several years of planning and development, our third project is coming to fruition. We are now exporting coffee to the US. We have two goals: 1) to use the major portion of our earnings to continue our education efforts, and 2) to improve the lives of the coffee growers, who, after years of being paid poorly, can finally realize a more just wage. They plan to use the funds to improve their farming methods and, consequently, the quality of the coffee.
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.