These guidelines are for those involved in the process of establishing new Chapters. That group might include individual Maryknoll Affiliates, Regional Coordinators, the Maryknoll Affiliate Board, a Maryknoll Missioner and the Executive Coordinator. The guidelines are meant to ensure that the new Chapter will meet the minimal requirements and guide those assisting the new Chapter in its beginning stages.


The following are the minimum prerequisites to be considered a functioning Affiliate Chapter as defined by the Affiliate Organizational Document:

  • Consists of four or more people.
  • Holds a minimum of three meetings a year.
  • Sustains a working internal organization.
  • Has an Affiliate Contact Person who relates with their Regional Coordinator, the Executive Coordinator and the Maryknoll Affiliate Board.

In addition, the potential Chapter will undergo the formation process, which includes developing an understanding of and commitment to the Maryknoll charism and the four pillars of the Maryknoll Affiliate Movement: Community, Spirituality, Global Vision and Action.

Establishment of a New Chapter

Interest in forming an Affiliate Chapter may be generated in a number of ways:

  • When people write or call to ask about the Affiliates, the Executive Coordinator informs them if there is a Chapter in their area. If not, the information they receive invites them to begin a new Chapter. Many people respond to such invitations. Sometimes people will contact the Maryknoll Affiliates specifically asking how to start a new Chapter.
  • Regional Coordinators in their contacts and travel may become aware of people interested in beginning a new Chapter.
  • Maryknollers who have connections with people expressing an interest in the Affiliate movement assist in the process of beginning a new Chapter.
  • Maryknoll Affiliates may start new Chapters when they move to another area or circumstances change within the existing Chapter.

Process for Establishing a New Chapter

Once an individual or a group shows interest in establishing a Maryknoll Affiliate Chapter, the Executive Coordinator and the Regional Coordinator assist those interested, using the following process as a guideline:

1) Introductory Packet
Once someone expresses interest in beginning a new Chapter, the Executive Coordinator sends him or her an “Introductory Packet.” The Introductory Packet includes materials that introduce the people interested in starting a Chapter to Maryknoll and the Maryknoll Affiliates (see Appendix A). It includes some questions for the initial discernment so that a group can determine if they want to really move ahead with organizing a new Chapter and begin the formation process.

2) Invitation, Assistance and Support
At this stage, the Executive Coordinator ensures that the Maryknoll Affiliate Board and Regional Coordinators, Maryknoll Affiliates and local Maryknollers are aware of a potential Chapter. Information is included in our newsletters and in updates to Maryknollers asking for prayerful support and encouragement for the new group in their discernment process. The Executive or Regional Coordinator will facilitate a process of sharing mutual expectations of the potential Chapter and the Maryknollers in the area. An “Accompaniment Person” will be identified to assist in the process of beginning a new Chapter. This would potentially be a Regional Coordinator or Maryknoll Affiliate in the area. If appropriate, an established Chapter or Maryknoll Missioners in the area could share the responsibilities of accompanying a potential Chapter. The Accompaniment Person serves as the contact for the potential Chapter, answering questions, working with them during the formation process and linking the people in the potential Chapter to any needed resources.

3) Formation
Once there is a mutual decision to move to the next stage, the potential Chapter begins the formation process. Formation for a Chapter would be primarily self-directed, though always accompanied in some way.

The Formation Period is also considered a period of mutual discernment. It is a time to see if the Maryknoll Affiliates is the best fit for the group. Whether or not a group decides to become a Maryknoll Affiliate Chapter, the formation program can be a very enriching experience. To emphasize the discernment aspect of this formation time, the program usually begins with an opening retreat and, in the months ahead, is followed by a look at five core themes. Once the five sessions are completed, it is encouraged that a closing retreat be incorporated to complete the discernment process.

The five core themes of the formation period are:

  1. Affiliate Identity
  2. Mission
  3. Spirituality of Mission
  4. Community
  5. Prophetic Witness

The Formation Process & Schedule – is designed to be flexible and adaptable to the needs of each potential Chapter and/or new Affiliate coming into a Chapter. It is anticipated that each core theme session would last approximately 90 minutes and that the entire formation period would be completed within one year or less.

A FORMATION PLANNING GUIDE is available and will be provided to all present and potential Affiliate Chapters. This Guide provides a suggested agenda, time delineation, substantive content and a variety of resources for each session.

Facilitation is done primarily within the group, itself. Someone from outside the potential Chapter, either a Maryknoller or a Maryknoll Affiliate, would facilitate the opening retreat. The job of the outside resource person is also to discuss the facilitation process as the group moves forward. A Maryknoller or Maryknoll Affiliate also facilitates the closing retreat.

During the Formation Period, all members of the potential Chapter are listed in the Maryknoll Affiliate database, receive the Maryknoll Affiliates newsletter, Not So Far Afield or No Tan Lejos del Horizonte and may register for the Maryknoll Affiliate website. Members of the potential Chapter are also welcome to attend Regional Conferences and the General Maryknoll Affiliate Conference.

4) Request for Recognition/Commitment
Prior to the closing retreat, time is set aside to address the practical aspects of being a Maryknoll Affiliate Chapter. The potential Chapter is asked to enter into final discernment and formulate a letter addressed to the Maryknoll Affiliate Board requesting recognition.

The person or persons accompanying the potential Chapter and the Executive Coordinator will submit their recommendation to the Maryknoll Affiliate Board. This recommendation is based on the faithfulness with which the potential Chapter undertook the formation process, their response to the questions during the formation process and any other pertinent insights the accompaniment persons and the Executive Coordinator gather along the way (see Appendix B).

Based on this input and the letter requesting recognition, the Maryknoll Affiliate Board will determine if the Chapter will be officially recognized. If there is need for further understanding, a process of dialogue will ensue.

If the Board approves the request of a group to become a Chapter, the Board would send a welcoming letter to the new Chapter and the Maryknoll Affiliate Booklet to each new Maryknoll Affiliate in the Chapter. If for any reason the Board denies the request, a letter explaining this would be sent to the group.

Once the Board has recognized the Chapter, the new Chapter would finalize the process by some kind of commitment ceremony during their final retreat. This could be done though a Eucharistic liturgy, prayer service or simple gathering. It could take place at a Maryknoll house or a church or home or wherever the Chapter meets. New Chapter members are invited – if they so choose – to sign the Maryknoll Affiliate Covenant. The Executive Coordinator will make copies of the Covenant available at that time.

News of the new Chapter will be included in Not So Far Afield, No Tan Lejos del Horizonte and the Update sent to all Maryknoll Missioners. Chapters and individual Maryknoll Affiliates are encouraged to welcome to the new Chapter. All new information is included in appropriate places in databases and on the web.

Chapter Starter Packet Materials

(Individual materials available through Executive Coordinator’s office)

  1. Your First Meetings
    A group begins with this paper.
  2. Maryknoll Affiliate Booklet
    All Maryknoll Affiliates receive the Maryknoll Affiliate Booklet. It contains our core documents, such as our Covenant and Identity Statement, as well as some background and history about Maryknoll and the Maryknoll Affiliates.
  3. Important Roles for Maryknoll Affiliate Chapters
    Maryknoll Affiliates are called to fulfill certain rolls in their Chapter. This sheet describes those roles and responsibilities.
  4. Sample edition of Not So Far Afield or No Tan Lejos del Horizonte
  5. Copies of Affiliate Brochure
  6. Facilitator Information
    This paper provides some helpful suggestions for anyone who will be facilitating a meeting.
  7. Sample Meeting Minutes
    To give a sense of activities of other Chapters, we provide the minutes from a recent meeting of an active Maryknoll Affiliate Chapter. We also indicate that registered users can view minutes from some other Chapters at our website,
  8. Philadelphia Chapter Meeting Guidelines
    The Philadelphia Chapter developed these guidelines that many Chapters might find useful.
  9. Map of Present Affiliate Chapters
    To give a visual sense of where Affiliates are located throughout the US and the World.
  10. A List of Frequently Asked Questions
    Provided to most inquirers, this may still provide answers to some people’s questions.
  11. Maryknoll Affiliates Website: How to Register Maryknoll Affiliates
    Practical Aspects of Being a Maryknoll Affiliate Chapter

Chapter Recognition

With this session, your group is coming to the end if its orientation/formation period. The last session will be a closing retreat at which we look forward to celebrating your formal recognition as a Chapter. Prior to the closing retreat, we would ask that you submit a letter requesting recognition as a Chapter. The letter should be addressed to the Maryknoll Affiliate Board Chair with copies to the Executive Coordinator and Regional Coordinator.

You probably will not be able to complete the letter at this meeting. We would suggest you designate one or two people to write this letter. The letter should address the following questions:

After going through the formation program, what will it mean to you to be a Maryknoll Affiliate Chapter?
How will the Chapter incorporate the four pillars of the Maryknoll Affiliates: Spirituality, Global Vision, Community and Action?

You may have responded to some of these questions along the way and posted them to our discussion board on our website. Those writing the letter can also solicit input from participants after the meeting through email or phone calls.

Please submit the letter as soon as possible after your meeting (it can be by email). This will allow the Board to request any clarifying information, if necessary, and make a decision before your final retreat.