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.
You may subscribe to Not So Far Afield by email or to be notified when it is posted on our website.
You may also download PDF versions of Not So Far Afield here.
This is a brief report, but I want to keep in touch and let other Affiliates know what we are doing.
We met on October 15, 2016, at the Maryknoll Sisters’ apartment in Seoul. Thirteen of us gathered, including two visiting guests who are Sisters of the Congregation of Jesus and Theresa Jung, who is asking to become an Affiliate. We all warmly welcomed her.
At the meeting, Maryknoll Sister Hyung-Jung Kim spoke to us about her mission in East Timor. Also, Maryknoll Sister Jean Maloney reported on her recent trip to the US. As usual, all the Affiliates shared the events of their lives during the past month, and a number spoke of gratitude for their families and for the Affiliate meeting itself, which is such a support. Also one member is preparing to make a trip to the Holy Land.
The Chapter requests prayers for the wife of one of the Affiliates who is receiving treatment for cancer. Her name is Theresa.
Thanksgiving evokes harvest gratitude just before winter. Yet the myth of Thanksgiving that we tell is rife with inaccuracies and omissions that have endured for 400 years. The story of a Wompanoag, Tisquantum (Squanto), in 1614, gives us a more honest look at our American colonial roots.
A Report on the Maryknoll Affiliates’ Southern Region Conference
New Orleans, LA, Sept. 30 – Oct. 2, 2016
Rev. Gerald E. Kelly, MM – Director of Mission Education & Promotion, Southern Region
Congratulations to Matt Rousso and the New Orleans Affiliates for a very successful Southern Region Conference. Held just outside New Orleans at a retreat center in Metairie, the conference opened with a moving prayer and procession highlighting the four Affiliate pillars of Spirituality, Community, Action and Global Vision. For the remaining time, the diverse modes of presentation that followed spoke to the theme: “Mission as Accompaniment: Walking Each Other Back Home.”
Somewhere in his writings, Saint Francis of Assisi wrote that the Lord “…wants me to be a new kind of fool in the world…” Just a few minutes into gathering together as Maryknollers—seeing how the New Orleans Chapter welcomed all of us, the global and local issues that consumed us (and the consumer issues that didn’t), the wholehearted laughter that filled us, and maybe even the simple dress that clothed us—gave some evidence that we too were aspiring towards the new fool in the world classification. The advanced levels of insight, education, creativity and life experience don’t disqualify in this regard.
Matt Rousso shared this reflection at the Southern Region Conference, and Mary used it in their Chapter meeting. She now offers it for all of us to use.
We should be able to see by what Pope Francis has been saying in his writings and in his speeches that he is strongly affirming that mission is much more about “being with rather than doing for.” A couple of years ago, a friend of mine shared with me a Christmas card she had received. There was a simple message in the card which read “we’re all just walking each other home.” That message has stuck with me and often impinged on my meditation and prayer. I have often been moved when I realize this is how God in Jesus has been with me all during my life —slowly and lovingly walking me home. And I have often thought how true this is of our call to mission. Are we not all called to walk each other home? Is not this what Pope Francis is saying when he says “we must all learn the art of accompaniment”? Or when he says, “we must practice the art of listening”?
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
• Have you have been “accompanying someone?” How did this experience begin? What has it been like for you?
• Is there someone(s) that you sense you are being called to accompany - to “walk home”? How are you experiencing this call?
The Mwanza Affiliates sent colorful cloth bags from one of their women’s projects to the Portland Oregon Affiliates, some of whom have visited them in Tanzania. The Portland Chapter also has helped Affiliate (returned Maryknoll Lay Missioner) Bertha Haas raise funds to support the school for handicapped children that she started there.
Recently I had a powerful interfaith experience at Hartford Seminary near Windsor, Connecticut. The intensive eight-day course entitled Building Abrahamic Partnerships was structured as an interfaith community of learning for Jews, Christians, and Muslims, all of whom trace their origin to the patriarch Abraham. Our class of 10 Jews, 8 Muslims, 9 Protestants of various denominations, and 3 Catholics heard lectures by Jewish rabbis, Muslim imams, Christian ministers, and seminary professors.
The highlight for me was a small group experience led by a Jewish rabbi, a Muslim woman, and a United Church of Christ woman minister. We each shared a personal experience that we had of God/Allah, through which we were able to meet on a spiritual level above our differences.
We are currently seeking nominations for appointment to the Maryknoll Affiliate Board. Are you dedicated to serving the Affiliate movement and committed to building a strong and sustainable organization? Please contact us if you, or someone you know, is able and ready to respond to this invitation.
Our annual invitation for you to participate in keeping Maryknoll Affiliates going will arrive soon. We need your help to cover the costs of communicating: newsletters, website, telephone, Executive Coordinator travel, paper clips...
Working together we can do it!
A Review of Just Water by Christiana Z. Peppard, Orbis Books Series on Integral Ecology.
This follow-up to Laudato Si, Just Water by Christiana Z. Peppard, presents very practical, though not easy, steps to protect our most essential resource. Already on page 22, I was challenged to change my way of life. Its principal assertion is that water conservation is a “right-to-life” issue. It is not fair for the first world to use up Earth’s water supply while leaving those most poor to pay the consequences. To reduce the threat to our water supply, we need to stop focusing on domestic use, only eight percent of total use, and attend to industrial and agricultural use.
The Gift of Enough*
I love you and I wish you enough...
[Taken from a story overheard in the airport as a daughter took leave of her elderly mother. When the mother was asked the meaning of these words of farewell, she replied, “that’s a wish that has been handed down from other generations. My parents used to say it to everyone. I am old now and my daughter lives far away. No doubt, her next trip here will be for my funeral.” Then she smiled remembering the message in detail.]
I wish you enough sun
to keep your attitude bright.
I wish you enough rain
to appreciate the sun more.
I wish you enough happiness
to keep your spirit alive.
I wish you enough pain
so that the smallest joys in life appear
I wish you enough gain
to satisfy your wanting.
I wish you enough loss
to appreciate all that you possess.
I wish you enough hellos
to get you through the final good-bye.
*Excerpted from Sabbath Presence by Kathleen Casey. Copyright 2006 by Ave Maria Press, PO Box 428, Notre Dame, IN 46556. Used with permission of the publisher.
We are a brave and loving community! This issue of the NSFA provides reflections and news from several active Affiliate communities. We also feature an EZ Meeting that asks chapters, or individuals, to reflect on our Affiliate community and ponder its relationship to the Kin-dom of God.
Bob Short provides insights on the Affiliate mission of seeking/creating/forming global community, which can lead us to wholeness. The article on “Family,“ from No Tan Lejos del Horizonte, the Spanish-speaking Affiliates’ newsletter, reminds us that the family provides us the grounding and formation that we need to be able to evolve into wholeness.
But there are impediments to wholeness. Demagogues, cults, and fearsome (and fearful) individuals may seek to maximize their benefits and protect themselves, disregarding the common good. The Affiliate community does not exclude the other but rather is supportive of the quest for knowledge and of care for our earth and its peoples, especially those less able to protect themselves.
Oaxacan Community Speaks – "The opposition to the Education Reform now includes not only the teachers but the parents of the school children."—Mary Gill and Pat Denevan
Will Your Chapter be Represented? – "Perhaps chapters could share the cost for a member to represent them."
Genuine Community – "In a small but important way, here is where the Affiliate vision, Seeking Global Community, can make a meaningful contribution, offering a heartfelt core to the emerging conscious unity."—Bob Short
The Problems with Palm Oil: Human Rights Abuses in Guatemala and Honduras – "The Guatemalans talked about palm oil plantations’ connection to water projects in their communities, and the Hondurans told of state repression and assassinations of indigenous leaders who protest large dam projects that threaten indigenous territories."—Mary Ryan-Hotchkiss
Maryknoll Affiliates in Tanzania – "One of the charter members of the Mwanza Affiliates, Agnes Medard, generously shared with Bertha the importance of Affiliate membership in her life."—Bertha Haas
Korean Affiliates Meet – "The sharing was an opportunity to look at how we as believers can respond to the issues we are faced with."—Lydia Kim
Emphasis on Action – "Several members who are not able to travel overseas are involved in local efforts."
Easy Meeting: Family-The Affiliate Community-The Kin-dom of God – "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."
Family in Guatemala – "For me, family is... The people who love, care for and hug you a lot."
LA Chapter Reflects on Survey – "Being an Affiliate member... Is thinking outside of ourselves—out of our comfort zone."
Talking Points – "Being a Maryknoll Affiliate... Gives you the opportunity to rub elbows with veteran, lifelong missioners and draw on their wisdom."—Ken Eppes
FOSNA/Maryknoll Links – "Stand for truth and justice without violence. Resist evil without doing evil."—Naim Ateek
Book Group Suggestions – "I look forward to ‘seeing’ everyone each week.”—Gabriella Maertens
Welcome Home Party for Bertha – "Now, in her retirement, she spends about a month each year at the school..."
Option for the Poor in County Jails – "An estimated 30 percent of the debit cards holding released prisoners’ own money are never used and are completely consumed by the fees."
And don't miss our Features:
A poem: The Homeless
A book review: A Theology of Peace
Editor: After many years in mission in Oaxaca, Mexico, four former Maryknoll Lay Missioners, Mary Gill and Pat Denevan remain in Oaxaca, and Kathy and Phil Dahl-Bredine spend part of the year there. They all wrote in recent newsletters of the conflicts in Oaxaca. Mary and Pat provided this August 17th update.
Ninety-four days have passed since the teachers in Oaxaca began large-scale protests against the federal government’s “reform” of the educational system. The protesters in Nochixtlán (a city north of Oaxaca City) blocked a main highway to Oaxaca, which caused a huge traffic problem. The Federal Police came to forcibly remove the protesters, resulting in 11 persons being killed (in two locations). This action received international attention and strengthened the resolve of the protesters. The opposition to the Education Reform now includes not only the teachers but the parents of the school children. In Nochixtlán, the local town authorities, along with the rest of the Mixteca Region, have joined the protests and have led marches to the Zócalo in Mexico City. Protests are also happening in 22 other Mexican states.
Are you coming to MAC 2017 in Guatemala?
Regional Coordinators (RCs) in the US have been asked to survey the chapters in their region to find out how many members plan to attend and how many might attend. If you plan to attend, contact your RC to add your name to the list.
Watch for details about travel grants if you’d like to attend but will need assistance. Perhaps chapters could share the cost for a member to represent them.
This preliminary information will help the Guatemala MAC 2017 Committee make MAC 2017 a great experience for all involved.