Kitty sent her reflection as she and Roger were preparing to leave for Africa to attend the graduation of one of the children they have been helping with school since they were Maryknoll Lay Missioners in Tanzania.
Harmony seems like a stretch in these days of super egos and partisanship, but I saw it develop and flourish over the four days of the MAC 2017 in Guatemala. The deepest feeling I have about the conference is oneness. It wasn’t an invasion of North Americans telling Central Americans; it was complete sharing. The celebration of Mayan spirituality brought us together as a sharing in the cosmos. We arrived as individuals and left as one.
All the ceremonies/liturgies, group work and celebrations brought us together. Language was not a problem—there were words spoken in Spanish translated into English and English into Spanish but no need to translate the smiles and good will of all. Singing, dancing, walking, eating together blossomed into a unity of purpose and engendered a new Maryknoll Affiliate essence. At 25 years, we are still beginning.
We will aspire to “be of one heart”
...to be at peace, in harmony and in balance
with ourselves, with others, with Mother Earth, and with the Cosmos.
the oneness of all Maryknoll:
Lay Missioners, Fathers & Brothers, Sisters, and Affiliates.
At MAC 2017, 120 Maryknollers came together to reflect, analyze, and dream about the present moment and the future for Affiliates, for all of Maryknoll. Read the results (in Spanish or English) at http://afiliadosmaryknoll.wixsite.com/guate/post-mac-2017.
Montana had two feet of snow on the ground when I left home for this much anticipated adventure. Flying into Guatemala early in the morning, as the sun was rising over the mountains, was an awesome sight I will never forget. I was not prepared for the city hustle and bustle of Guatemala City. But Verbo Encarnado Retreat House was out of the city, in a very beautiful tropical setting, a paradise for the senses, and warm.
In all the church and health conferences I have attended, never have I had a better conference experience anywhere! Rosa Beatriz and the whole organizing committee were amazing. Our every need was attended to. Many times we were challenged to think how we felt about our mission as Maryknoll Affiliates and how we perceived the future. We had many opportunities to meet with and share ideas with the attendees. It was encouraging to see how the Guatemala Affiliates included many young people and their families. The unique character of Maryknoll—embracing and being open to different cultures and walking with the people—was wonderfully present throughout the gathering. The poet and Mayan spiritual guide, Daniel Caño’s presentation was worth the price of admission!
I took the post conference Mission Trip I for its health care focus. We were a small group of four Affiliates, our driver, and our guide, two very kind and thoughtful men who showed us the hill country. They introduced us to the indigenous people who shared their stories and welcomed us so graciously into their homes. It was very evident that the Maryknoll Sisters we met— Dee, Jane, and Mary Lou—had empowered the local people, who in turn were giving voice and ministering to the needs and concerns of others, walking with them and advocating for them.
At the MAC 2017 in Guatemala, we walked slowly, slowly, counter-clockwise around the fire, praying and being with all of nature in the cosmos. Daniel Caño, a Mayan philosopher, poet, and spiritual leader, led the prayer thanking all of nature in the cosmos. We prayed in the circle and discussed the magic in our spiritual being in a circle. Circles are everywhere, in space, math, bubbles. Even honeybees dance in a circle to communicate.
In early November, around 100 Affiliates and friends will be attending MAC 2017, our international Maryknoll Affiliate Conference, in Guatemala. The MAC Coordinating Committee tells us,
The assembly cup is full. We welcome Maryknoll Affiliates who will live the harmony between people and Mother Earth inspired by the theme of Buen Vivir.
The Coordinating Committee asked for responses to these questions: What valuable learnings do I hope to leave with? In what ways would I like to see the theme “Buen Vivir” (Living in Harmony with All) become part of the commitment of the Affiliate Movement? What will be my own special contribution in this MAC 2017 assembly to strengthen the four Pillars (Community, Spirituality, Global Vision, Action) to the Maryknoll Affiliate Movement?
One person shared the thought, “Living in harmony with all challenges us to remember that the Blessing that awaits us is often outside our comfort zone!”
Read more of the thoughtful and inspiring responses they received (in English and Spanish), in the No Tan Lejos del Horizon Special MAC Edition and plan to hear a full report on our first truly international MAC in the next issue of NSFA.
The special talents of these Guatemalans will enrich your conference experience with an understanding of the Mayan culture, uplifting liturgies, and enjoyment of the music created for this gathering.
Daniel Caño is Mayan Q’anjob’al, from the aldea Paykonob’, municipality of Santa Eulalia, Huehuetenango. A Mayan spiritual guide, he was named for Maryknoll Father Daniel Jensen, who was pastor in Santa Eulalia at that time.
His academic studies are in philosophy, pedagogy, and intercultural bilingual education. Daniel is presently a professor of political and social sciences at the Rafael Landivar University in Quetzaltenango and on the faculty of Humanities at the Guatemalan University del Valle in the Altiplano. He has shared his spirituality, life experiences and poetry at a number of universities and organizations in the United States.
Of the Mayan Spirituality, Daniel says “I consider Mayan Spirituality as a way of interrelating myself with my social and cosmic surroundings. I try not to reduce it to rituals but instead to apply it to all spheres of my life.”
Lorenza is an indigenous Maya Quiche woman and a psychologist and elementary school teacher. Her parents immigrated to the capital city of Guatemala because of the political violence and the poverty in the country. In spite of having grown up in an urban environment, her strong Mayan identity is based on the values of equality, social justice, and respect for diversity.
In 2000, Lorenza began reflecting on the Cosmo vision of the Mayan People, in particular the K’iche. She has studied certain elements, principles, and values of the spirituality of her people. She appreciates her origins and has a critical vision of their history as Mayan Peoples.
During this process, she has worked with organizations of indigenous peoples, women’s groups, and international and governmental organizations. Presently, she consults regarding indigenous peoples, women, and HIV, and develops workshops for healing and counseling with indigenous women.
John Spain, MM – Maryknoll Priest
Ordained in 1970, John shared pastoral service with Salvadoran priests and participated in Christian communities. Over forty years ago, he lived through the persecution that claimed the lives of more than ten priests, including our beloved Blessed Oscar Romero and the four American churchwomen in December 1980.
In the 1980s, John served in Nicaragua while it was experiencing US aggression after freeing itself from Somoza. In the 1990s, he returned to San Salvador to accompany the suffering people in their search for reconciliation after the war. In recent years he has spent more time on administrative tasks in Central America, but also sharing with the Affiliates of Guatemala and El Salvador to help pastorally in the parish of Cristo Salvador in Zacamil, El Salvador.
This year he was invited to share the lives of the martyrs of Central America with the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers in Africa.
Helen has been a Maryknoll sister for 79 years, and looks back with gratitude at the journey that brought her to this time in Guatemala. After wonderful years of formation and College education, she spent 10 years in Panama teaching children whose ancestors had worked on the Panama Canal. A call to the contemplative life brought her back to New York, where for 32 years she lived the cloistered life, reaching out to the world through prayer.
Most significant in her life was the invitation to come to Guatemala to be a presence of prayer and accompaniment in the midst of the poor who were still suffering from the effects of violence and massacres. Her life has become prayer in the midst of the world, one with the people.
Both a professional singer and a humanities professor, Miguel specializes in music in middle education and musical theater. A choral director, artistic producer, and dramatist, he is the founding director of Staccato Singers Academy, a school held in high esteem in Guatemala. He has given workshops internationally and is vice president of the Latin American Forum of Music Educators.
Immersed in the world of song since an early age, he has won multiple awards, including gold medal winner in the World Olympics of the Arts (2001) in Los Angeles, California, and the Arcoiris Award for the best youth group (2005).
He has created:
Miguel presently directs the City Choral group of Guatemala City, teaches vocal technique at Staccato Singers Academy, and is General Director of Casa Duarte, a meeting place for companies that work in all branches of the arts.
Juan Pablo teaches musical formation, specializing in practice and choral direction. He studied at University of San Carlos and Normal School for teachers of Music Jesus Maria Alvarado.
As a member of the National Choir of Guatemala (Cultural Patrimony of the Nation), he has been a choir member, tenor soloist, accompanying pianist, and director (from 1992 to the present). Juan has sung with several other choirs, including Colegio San Sebastian (1977-1979), Victoria Choir (1986 – 1990), APG Choir (1988), Symphonic Christmas Choir (1992), and Hilos de Plata Choir (2006).
He has been a member of popular music groups: Christmas Selection, Siglo XX (1992), High Voltage Group (1990 – 1992), The Organization (1993), The Brothers Duarte Groups (1994 – 1997), Select Music Group (1990-2000), among others, with which he has participated in national tours and international festivals (Central America, Cuba, Colombia and Mexico).
Juan Pablo composers and arranges choral works, songs with a message of hope, children’s songs, group arrangements, and chamber music. He interprets varied academic and popular music, singing and accompanying himself on piano or keyboard.
He presently teaches music and directs the youth choir and marimba at Colegio Monte Maria in Guatemala City.