Ministry In Line with UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

By Sister Marvie L. Misolas, MM

When I am not teaching my graduate students at Miriam College and Philippine Women Universities, I find myself visiting farmers and their communities whom I collaborate with projects that promote sustainable development through forest and watershed restorations and conservation to address climate change. My purpose in working on these projects is to align my work/ministry with some of the United Nations sustainable development goals (SDGs).
In early March, I was invited by a peasant movement leader, Maria (Maria is used as a pseudonym for the farmer leader to protect her identity), to collaborate with 10 peasant families who have been displaced recently from their farming land because of land grabbing by powerful developers who are supported by town leaders. Maria’s husband was murdered a year ago inside their farm area. Thus, their families left their farmland land and are in hiding for fear of their lives.

The seedling production project will be situated somewhere in Laguna using a borrowed land. The community joined the government’s National Greening Program. The government agency on natural resources (DENR)will buy the seedlings from them for P7 each (about 15cents of a dollar). The group entered an agreement whereby Rizal Provincial Environment Office will buy 20,000 Acacia, Narra (a Philippine hardwood) and Ipil-ipil seedlings. These seedlings will be planted in watershed areas somewhere in Tanay, Rizal sometime in July or August. With funding from Maryknoll Sisters, the farmers and their families worked together to prepare and plant the more than 20,000 seedlings during the months of April and May. These seedlings will be bought by the Rizal-PENRO in July-August when rainy season starts and planting tree seedlings will be carried out.

In mid-May, Maria and I visited the seedling production area. Nestled at the foot of a mountain, the seedlings are neatly arranged in rows and batches of 200 counts. They are like jade slabs sparkling in the sun. Philip and wife were tending the seedlings while the children playing around. The seedling area consisted of about a hectare of clearing in the middle of forest and coconut plantations. The families used the red soil in the area mixed with rice hulls in black seedling pouches.

It was fun to meet the families who were part of the project. One of those I visited had fruit tree seedlings in their backyard, and the children were excited to show me their plants. Before I left, the family gave me a bunch of green cooking bananas harvested from their backyard to take to the convent.

I went back in late July for another site visit. Philip and I checked the seedlings that were almost two feet tall but we noticed some insects are eating the leaves of acacia seedlings. We checked and found out ants were eating the leaves and so he decided that to spray the ants to save most of the seedlings. After two weeks, I received a call from Maria saying, most of the farm seedlings’ leaves dried as well as the grass around the seedlings, suspecting someone sabotaged the seedlings ready for planting by spraying weed killer. The incidence was reported to the local police hoping to get the perpetrators. Meanwhile, the farmers did their best to save the remaining good seedlings. In August, most of the seedlings were transferred to the mountains of Rizal for reforestation.

Maria and her group wrote a critical reflection of their effort to help in the reforestation program of the government and the lessons learned from this initial project. The project promoted their livelihood while helping rehabilitate the Philippine forest and collaborating with government agency. They are also aware that their group is vulnerable to attacks by people who are against them who are fighting to advocate for farmers right to land and livelihood.

Maryknoll Discernment Retreat 2017

Maryknoll Discernment Retreat 2017

By Sister Maureen Hanahoe, M.M.

During Holy Week of this year, April 13th to the 16th  2017, 27 young men and women came to Maryknoll, New York, from all over  the United States, as well as Kenya and Scotland,  to discern a Call to Global Mission as a Priest, Brother , Sister or Lay Missioner.

The Retreat was both prayerful and meaningful, as we accompanied Jesus in His Passion, and in our own desire to deepen our call to discipleship.  It also provided the opportunity to share with each other our diverse calls to mission, as well as to listen to other missioners, who have been transformed, through sharing their lives with so many cultures, throughout the world.

Through this experience, the participants discovered the diverse charisms of the Priests, Brothers Sisters and Lay Missioners.  They also learned about the Affiliates and about Short Term Mission. They experienced   Maryknoll as a movement, where  there is the opportunity to minister collaboratively with others, in working for justice and peace, and in recognizing and giving witness to God’s love, in every part of the world.

Thisness of God

“Thisness of G*d”(Haecceity)

by Sr. Marvie L. Misolas, MM

Thisness of God (haecceity) is a term I borrowed from Sister Ilia Delio, OSF, from her book Making All Things New – Catholicity, Cosmology and Consciousness to reflect and articulate a recent period of quiet and meditation in a place where my spirit finds home.

That afternoon, whilst walking towards the cemetery, these little things lying sparsely on the ground along with fallen summer leaves caught my attention.  Lo and behold there are quite a bit of them, like winged creatures, except that they are, I learnt, are seed-pods of a tree which I still have to know the name.  The heat of the mid-afternoon did not deter me from picking a few of these, trying very hard to put them in my palm and not crushing them for they are so fragile.  Accidentally, a gentle breeze blew and one got blown off from my palm, and like a child~ I got more fun watching it propelled in perfection, sliding through the breeze to the ground.  So, instead of collecting them, thinking of planting them, I blew them off my palm and watched them twirled in unison.  Then, I would pick them up again, and blew them off, to my satisfaction.  Sweating and sweltering, I walked back to my room, feeling so happy, the child within made whole again!

Later that afternoon, in prayer, all the images and recollection of the mid-afternoon rendezvous came back.  It has dawned on me; I have met my teachers in these little things.  I was conscious of them, as they were of my presence.  They were actually the whole universe.  They represent the present as well the future possibilities of what make up creation unfolding.  I thought, I have just witnessed and experienced God’s love ~ being creative every moment.  These seed pods represent both death and new life. As I have come to the retreat with the intention of reflecting on the passion death and new life of Jesus, the Spirit helped me to gaze and contemplate nature and be conscious of this wholeness in nature.  The gift I have received is what Ilia Delio said, “To see is an act of consciousness, and it brings what it sees into conscious reality.  It requires an open heart.  To have an inner spaciousness of the heart to receive another.”   Somehow, there was this intense creative communication between me and the seed pods, they have become alive!

Intuitively, as I continued to reflect on these seeds, this has led me to understand that there is this awesome wholeness in nature.  That is, the process of life and death.  That death is integral to life. That reflecting on the suffering and death of Jesus, he showed us that it is all part of the process of life.  Ilia Delio said, “Jesus’ death symbolizes his Yes to the consciousness of his unity to God (humanity) and God’s unconditional love (divinity).  This is Jesus, the ‘thisness’ of God.

Delio also quoted Jurgen Moltmann,

“When the Crucified Jesus is called the image of the invisible God, the meaning is that this is God, and God is like this.  God is not greater than he is in his humiliation.  God is not more glorious than he is in this self-surrender.  God is not more powerful than he is in this helplessness.  God is not more divine than he is in this humanity.”

Beautifully, Delio summarized Jesus’ suffering and death, “Jesus’ mission of creative wholeness restores humanity to its integral nature within the whole of evolutionary nature.  Through the life of Jesus we can see ourselves as part of an ongoing process of creative and emergent life(evolution) and are called to realize our participation in this unfolding of life, as creation seeks its ultimate fulfillment in God.  Death is not due to sin and evil, nor it is opposite of life.  It is radical in nature, integral to life.”

These seeds springing to new plants represent resurrection.  In the quantum understanding of life and death, Jesus resurrection must empower us, to be like him, to being renewed.  That in every big and small deaths we experience throughout this life, we emerged with a higher consciousness, a new whole sense of being, more loving.  For Ilia Delio, ‘every act of physical death is an act of new life in the universe. The resurrection of Jesus reveals to us new cosmic life.  Through the lens of quantum physics, death is the collapse of our ‘particle’ aspect of life into the ‘wave’ dimension of our relatedness.”

Our living on in and through relationships, noted Delio, is the meaning and depth of the resurrection of Jesus.  Jesus now lives on in the heart of the universe in a new relatedness.  Jesus lives in us, those who follow him, who remember him, who extend our relationships in compassion, justice and peace.  mlm 劉美妙修女04122017

Sister Mary Stolz, Maryknoll Sister for 63 Years Dies


Sister Mary Stolz, Maryknoll Sister for 63 Years Dies

Maryknoll, NY: Sister Mary Teresa Stolz died on April 7, 2017 at the Maryknoll Sisters Center; she was 94 years old and had been a Maryknoll Sister for 63 years.

Mary was born on February 1, 1923 in Elyria, Ohio to Mary B. (Dietz) and William J. Stolz.  She had one brother, Rev. Joseph Stolz and four sisters, Florence, Anne, Cecilia and Margaret.  Her parents and siblings have all predeceased her.

In 1941, Mary graduated from Elyria High School and worked as a secretary at The National Society for Crippled Children and the Army Air Corp Depot in Elyria until 1943.  She then joined the U.S. Navy serving as a Wave from 1944-1946.  After serving in the Navy, she returned home in Elyria where she worked as a secretary at G.A. Olsen Mfg. Co. until 1951. She was then employed as assistant secretary at Northern Savings and Loan Co. until 1953.

Mary entered the Maryknoll Sisters Novitiate in Maryknoll, NY from St. Mary’s Parish, Elyria on September 2, 1953.  At her Reception of the Habit she received the religious name, Sister Mary Philomena. She made her First Profession of Vows on September 8, 1956 at Valley Park, MO and her Final Vows six years later on the same date in Bolivia.  She was then assigned to the Maryknoll Sisters Center where she worked in the travel and shipping department from 1956-1958.

In 1958, Sister Mary received her first overseas assignment to the Bolivia-Peru Region and studied the Spanish language in Cochabamba, Bolivia. She was appointed Procurator for Bolivia from 1958-1966, and then served as secretary to the Maryknoll Fathers Regional Superior in Lima, Peru from 1967-1972.  From there she returned to the Maryknoll Sisters Center where she served as supportive services coordinator until May 1974.  In September of that year, Sister Mary studied at Loyola University in Chicago and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration in 1977.

On October 1, 1977, Sister Mary was assigned to Venezuela where she served as a member of the Barcelona Pastoral Team until 1982.   She then returned to the Maryknoll Sisters Center and worked as accountant controller in the treasury department until 1987.  In 1987, she was assigned to Chicago where she taught mission education before moving to Monrovia, CA in 1989 as a senior companion.  Two years later Sister Mary was called back to the Maryknoll Sisters Center and served as the center administrator from 1991-1996.  She then retired and joined the Western United States Region and did volunteer work in Las Cruces, New Mexico as bookkeeper at Fr. James B. Hay School and Pastoral Center. In 1999, Sister Mary moved to the Maryknoll Sisters retirement home in Monrovia, CA where she continued to do volunteer work and community service in a senior companion program from 2004-2011. Due to failing health, she returned to the Maryknoll Sisters Center.  Sister Mary died quietly after a long illness on April 7, 2017.

Sister_Mary_Stolz- from Maryknoll Sisters on Vimeo.


May Appeal

You have made a difference in an area where people desperately want a better quality of life but are unable to get even basic health care.  Sister Jane Buellesbach, M.M. shares with you the story of Guadalupe, one of many children in Guatemala that grow up praying to survive and holding on to hope for the chance at a better life:

“Years ago, Guadalupe’s mother decided to participate in the Health Promoters program which we have been running for some years.  Guadalupe entered primary school in this rural village where she was taught in a classroom with two other grades (three in all).  She loved studying and finished primary school with no trouble. Secondary school was a different story.  The only thing available in her village was a radio school, which operated several hours a week.  Guadalupe did very well, although the preparation was far from adequate for any further studies.  Undaunted and inspired by her mother´s work in Health, she asked to go on and study professional nursing. Since she is one of five girls and her father only works as a farmer, there was no way her folks could afford such an expense.   Because of her mother´s faithful, voluntary service to her community, she asked about the possibility of a scholarship for Guadalupe.


Thanks to friends and donors we agreed to sponsor Guadalupe.  Once again she amazed us, overcoming insuperable obstacles.  She wanted to help pay for her studies so looked for work cleaning houses in the late afternoon, after attending classes until 2p.m.  Her evenings were spent studying.  She saved every penny and was able to pay her own tuition, the scholarship providing books, uniforms, transportation and room and board.  After her first year she was leading the class scholastically.

At the end of the year only 16 of the 160 students who started the course finished, and yes, you guessed it, Guadalupe was at the top.  She is now in her last year of study looking forward to graduation and being able to work to help her younger siblings study as well as help with family expenses.  She has a job offer after she graduates which is unheard of in this area.  She is truly an extraordinary and remarkable young woman!” – Sister Jane

Sister Jane has established programs to involve the Guatemalans in becoming self-sufficient in matters of personal hygiene, preventive medicine and the treatment of parasitic and contagious diseases.  A small medical team that traveled by horseback was developed to bring much-needed health care to people living in desperate poverty.  Local residents are trained as certified health promoters who perform various medical tasks.  The health volunteers are taught how to diagnose, treat, and prevent the most common diseases.  A scholarship fund was set up to help train the volunteers.

Sister Jane has seen what can be accomplished when we not only bring in support services but also train local residents to help themselves.  Together, we are making God’s love visible.


60th Jubilee-Sister Peggy Lipsio, M.M.

Sister Peggy Lipsio, M.M. celebrated her 60th Jubilee on February 12th, 2017. She is from New Rochelle, NY and entered Maryknoll in 1957. Assigned to Chile in 1965, she studied Spanish in Pucón and moved to Talca, living among the poor, sharing their lives and their poverty. She did pastoral work, visiting people in their homes and giving Christian formation programs for married couples, as well as attending the parish clinic mornings to give injections. After ten years, she reluctantly left Chile and the people, expelled under General Pinochet’s notorious regime of violence and repression. She had risked her own life to save another.

Back in the States, Sister Peggy earned her nursing degree and in 1980, went to Thailand in response to Catholic Relief Services appeal for volunteer nurses to help in Cambodian refugee camps. She supervised a maternal child health program for a poulation of 40,000 and, understanding what life is in violent situations, took time to listen to their stories.

Assigned to the Eastern U.S. Region in 1983, she began more than a decade in Rochester, NY as a Public Health Nurse for the Monroe County Health Department, first as a Home Health Nurse, the only Spanish-speaking nurse in her division, a blessing to her many Hispanic clients. She was also a maternal/child care nurse and worked in the TB clinic.

Presently she lives in North Carolina, again sharing her skills and experience as a Henderson County Public Health Nurse, ministering to pregnant Hispanic women. She works with a Physician’s Assistant to provide physical, social and educational help to these women. Her language fluency is a great asset as she visits the trailer parks and low income housing in the county. As a volunteer nurse with the American Red Cross, she rushed to Natchitoches, Louisiana in response to the hurricane devastation of the gulf coast, helping in a shelter for more than 600 people.

60th Jubilee Rachel Kunkler, M.M.

Sister Rachel Kunkler, M.M. celebrated her 60th Jubilee as a Maryknoll Sister on February 12th, 2017. Sister Rachel Kunkler with a group of youth in Tanzania who named themselves “Chapa Kazi” which literally means “Hard Work.” Another free translation would be “hit the deck” or “get the job done!”

For the past forty-three years Sister Rachel has lived in Tanzania, East Africa. She is definitely a multi-task person and presently, along with Sister Noreen McCarthy, is a consultant for women and youth groups in rural and urban Iringa Region where they arrived almost twenty years ago and initiated the “Chapa Kazi” group. Presently the Sisters are consultants for women and youth groups on alternative energy – solar lighting and windmill water pumps; business and marketing skills for economic projects. They do HIV/AIDS counseling and prepare young, economically poor women for secondary and post secondary education, which includes tutoring, getting scholarships, and keeping contact while they are away at school.

It is easy to understand why in 1995, the President of Tanzania honored the Sisters with an award issued by the Ministry of Labour and Youth Development for their work in the Iringa Region. They had worked with seven groups in four districts.

Their original Chapa Kazi group eventually built eight houses for themselves plus a kindergarten and day care center. They also sent a young woman away to study and how to teach in their kindergarten. These young people are a mixture of religions, Catholic, Lutheran and Muslim as well as a mixture of tribes, Wabena and Wakinga. Sister Rachel said, “They kept reminding us that we had once mentioned solar lighting….they work hard and they keep us working hard!”

Sister Rachel entered the Maryknoll Sisters in 1957 from Loogootee, Indiana. She was in pre-medical studies in St. Mary of the Woods College. In Maryknoll, Sister Rachel finished those studies at  Mt .St. Vincent’s earning a B.S. in Biology. After language study in Tanzania, Sister Rachel taught biology, chemistry and other subjects for nine years in three secondary schools. When her students were coming back to teach, Sister Rachel changed her teaching to lay leadership training for small Christian communities in the Arusha diocese. For twelve years the Sisters visited all the parishes and over two thousand leaders were trained in the Center. At the same time they had a small farm with ten young people working in animal husbandry which helped make the Center self-reliant. They were able to turn this Center over to Tanzanian Sisters from Kilimanjaro and respond to the government invitation to work in the Iringa Region.

Sister Rachel was a delegate to four General Assemblies of the Maryknoll Sisters as well as serving full time one year as the Regional Research and Planning Coordinator for the Tanzania Maryknoll Sisters. In 2008 she celebrated her Golden Jubilee, fifty years of giving her life for others, stretching her imagination and talent to meet urgent needs in mission.

Sisters Rachel and Noreen take their turns staffing the house of hospitality in Nairobi, Kenya for Maryknoll Sisters in Africa for retreats, meetings, medical care, etc. However, they will be in daily contact by cell phone with the folks in Iringa and will go back every two months for a week or so.


60th Jubilee-Sister Rita Keegan, M.M.

Sister Rita Keegan, M.M. celebrated her 60th Jubilee as a Maryknoll Sister on February 12th, 2017. Sister Rita Keegan’s good humor, optimism and “can do” spirit and her gifts of personal rapport and group facilitation have marked her leadership in the Maryknoll Congregation and in all her ministries in the U.S. and Bolivia.

Sister Rita lives in an economically depressed area in Oregon. She is a counselor/therapist at Four rivers Free Clinic and in the State Correctional Facility with individuals and groups in the infirmary for the severely mentally ill. Her work in Head Start is with Spanish-speaking families, mostly mothers and children individulally and in groups. She was a volunteer on the board of the Alcohol Recovery Center and continues as a sponsor for several in the AA Twelve Step Program. She collaborates on retreat events, mostly in the AA program. She also has private clients for counseling/spiritual direction.

Sister Rita hails from Richland Center, WI, and entered Maryknoll in 1957. Her first assignment was in the South Bronx, NY, where she taught at St. Anthony’s School. After five years, she was sent to Bolivia where she taught and later worked in a resettlement project in the jungle where several thousand peole were  forced from their homes by floods. In what had been nothing but forest and jungle, she helped inaugurate two colonies, Hardeman and Piray, a pastoral and community project sponsored by the joint efforts  of Catholic, Methodist and Mennonite churches administering an orientation program for the new colonists, mostly indigenous people. After 12 years, she moved from the jungle to charamoco in the mountainous area around Cochabamba and was part of a pastoral team who ministered to 36 small villages of Quechua Indians. Integration of community and human development were their priorities.

She served for three years as Congregational Personnel Director and on her regional leadership teams several times, as well as facilitating meetings for other regions and groups.

60th Jubilee-Sister Rosemary McCormack, M.M.

Sister Rosemary McCormack, M.M. celebrated her 60th Jubilee on February 12th, 2017. Sister Rosemary McCormack entered the Maryknoll Sisters Congregation from Long Island City, New York in 1957. In 1962 she was a star on a TV puppet show for children featured in the NY Archdiocese. This popular show, “Let’s Talk About God,” was taped for other dioceses and also shown in the Philippines.

She studied for two years at Mary Rogers College, Maryknoll, NY and received her B.A. in Sociology from St. Catherine’s, St. Paul, MN in 1967. That same year she was assigned to the Bolivia/Peru Region and studied Spanish in Cochabamba, Bolivia.

In 1968, Sister Rosemary began her commitment to Peru in two areas on the southern outskirts of Lima, Ciudad de Dios and Pamplona Alta. Her work involved her as a social worker and pastoral worker in community development. In 1980, a turbulent time of violence in Peru, Sister Rosemary was elected full time Coordinator of the Maryknoll Sisters in the Peru Region and traveled throughout the country. On completing her term, Sister Rosemary returned to Ciudad de Dios to work in a day care center.

From 1985-1989 Sister Rosemary returned to NY for mission education and promotion work. Her TV talents were highlighted once again when Maryknoll’s Social Communication Dept. produced 13 videotaped programs for use at home as well as by parishes and school groups. Entitled “Common Table”, the programs covered such topics as hunger and peace. Co-hosts, Maryknollers Father Donald Doherty and Sister Rosemary, interviewed missioners and other experts.

In 1991, Sister Rosemary received her M.A. in Pastoral Care and Counseling from Fordham University, NY in Religious Education and remained in NY for family ministry until June, 1999.

In 1999, Sister Rosemary returned to Peru and presently works in a parish in Pamplona Alta in the diocese of Lurin, created about eight years ago. She is involved in a family Catechetical Program in which parents meet once a week for two years in small groups to deepen their faith and learn how to prepare their children to receive the sacraments. Sister Rosemary meets with leader couples of the small groups and together they prepare the weekly meetings. The final goal of the program is to form Basic Christian Communities in which the people can reflect on their lives in the light of the Gospel and support each other in their efforts to transform society.

By profession Sister Rosemary is a Social Worker and helps a limited number of people who come to her with their problems. Often they just need someone to talk to, but when needed Sister Rosemary also refers them to organizations that can offer the services they need.

Sister Rosemary is a member of the National Conference of Religious Human Rights Commission. In the diocese of Lurin she works on the local level with the Commission on Human Dignity which gives workshops related to Justice and Peace.