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

The Power of Healing: By Sister Euphrasia Nyaki

power of healing 1
Sister Efu on the left performs body
and mind healing.

As I celebrate 25 years as a missioner, I celebrate with a grateful heart the development of this wonderful project that brings health to people of all classes, race, nationality, sex and age.

I co-created the second organization (NGO) know as Afya, a Women’s Holistic Healing Center that begun working with poor women in the poor communities in the periphery of a North Eastern City of Brazil known as Joao Pessoa. At Afya I taught the women how to use the healing methods that are within their own capacity to heal their physical, emotional and spiritual being. Some of these methods are; herbal medicines grown in their own back yards, therapeutic massage, reflexology, reiki, the use of mud therapy, somatic experiencing for trauma healing, family constellation, and balanced/natural diets.

Afya begun in the year 2000 and it has developed in a very interesting manner.

It started serving only poor women from the neighborhood, however, as time went on those who were healed at Afya they told their stories to others that had the same needs, and more people came from other parts of the city, regions/state, other parts of Brazil and even other parts of the world. Also we started receiving other people from the working classes who needed Holistic healing and the women from the community who were first healed are the ones attending those who continue coming.

Sister Efu shows women how to make holistic medicine.
Sister Efu shows women how to make holistic medicine.

Afya Women Healing center became a Healing Center for all!

Many women from the neighborhood who came for healing were able to change their situations of pain and suffering for themselves and for their family. Then their husbands, who probably were their source of brokenness, saw that their wives were doing well and asked them if they could take them to this place which gave them life again. A number of women came and ask asked us if they could bring their husbands to Afya for healing. Since these women have experienced healing they also wanted to see everyone else in their family healed as well. Some of them had their grown up sons involved with drugs and wished to bring them to Afya for healing. We had to talk about this serious issue in order to make a decision of opening up Afya for all. It came to my mind that; “A half of the world population in the world is Women, and the other half is the product/offspring of the women”.  With this phrase we decided to change the statues of Afya from only attending women to “Transformed Women attending the community/Society/planet earth with Holistic healing means.

Afya begun with a team of 5 women and now, 15 years later we have 20 women attending as team members. For the first 6 years, Afya relied on grants from different organizations including Maryknoll Sister’s Project Funding. Eventually, in the last 7 to 9 years, Afya has been in the process of creating a cooperative which helps women to be self sustained. Now we have the cooperative COOPAFA within Afya as an NGO. Through COOPAFYA, women divide up among themselves the earnings of every month as they attend the community.

The word Afya means Health in my native Swahili language spoken in Tanzania. So, I am very happy to have found Afya in Brazilian people with the roots in my own country.

Grateful To All For Such Blessings

greatful-to-all-for-such-blessings-1It’s been nearly a year since I returned to East Timor, yet when I pause to reflect on all of the experiences, gifts and blessings that I’m grateful for—they’re innumerable. It’s impossible to count or remember them all. Each of you, receiving this bulletin, is also one of those blessings. I’m not merely grateful for the support you’ve given me as a missioner, and to my students. This giving and sharing is part of a greater context, an infinite whole—in which we experience the unfolding GOODNESS of life itself.

At the risk of becoming philosophical, let me just say I’m grateful for your kindness, for allowing the graces of human virtue to flow through you. This is what touches me the most. As Mary Josephine Rogers, our founder said, “How much goodness there is in all, how much beauty that bears the likeness of the Creator!” She counseled us to look at others this way, and to give thanks for the ways God’s love touches us.

Standing with three of my students who are now testing to become Dominican Friars. What a joy to witness their vocations bloom!
Standing with three of my students who are now testing to become Dominican Friars. What a joy to witness their vocations bloom!

Now at the risk of sounding sentimental, let me just say I’m grateful for your help! Together, we have done a lot to support the education of many students, who are now in a better position to improve their own lives.

Receiving a visit from Pinto Pereira, one of my first students from the class of 2008. He is the one who inspired me to teach at the public school and opened my eyes to the real hardships that some youth face. His dedication to his own education, despite his poverty, hunger and lack of support, compelled me to help him pay for college. His story moved me so much—and over the years we’ve grown closer.

Bonifacio, the scholar on the left, just joined the seminary.
Bonifacio, the scholar on the left, just joined the seminary.

In 2014, he earned a Bachelor’s degree in English and recently gave me a gift in gratitude for the support. I wish each of you could have been the recipient and felt what it’s like to be on this side of your donations!

 

Terror in the City of Light

 Looking back now on the horrible events of these past two days in Paris, I wondered how to react. How does one accept the inhumanity shown by a group of jihadists against innocent people going about their own lives, enjoying an exciting soccer game in the stadium, sharing a meal with friends, listening to a rock concert, or just walking along the peaceful streets in this lovely city? One cannot lose hope even under these drastic circumstances. It brings to my mind the words of the letter of Peter3:15 where he says:
“Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands of you an accounting for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence.”
 
Sr. Helen Phillips

Source of Peace and Light of the World

God of Compassion,
hear the cries of the people of France and around the world that suffer from terrorists’ attacks. Bring healing to those suffering from the violence. Bring comfort to those mourning the dead, and strengthen the people of France with courage and hope. Convert the hearts of those who have become terrorists,
and protect those committed to peace, and give us all hope for a future of peace built on justice for all.We ask this blessing through Jesus the Christ,
Source of Peace and Light of the World,
who lives and reigns forever and ever.
Amen.

From the Writings of Martin Luther King
Like an unchecked cancer,
hate corrodes the personality
and eats away its vital unity.
Hate is rooted in fear,
and the only cure for fear is love.
Hatred and bitterness can never cure
the disease of fear;
only love can do that.
Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it.
Hatred confuses life;
love harmonizes it.
Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.
Hate begets hate;
violence begets violence;
toughness begets a greater toughness.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness;
only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate;
only love can do that.
Only love can generate
creative fulfillment.
Love is somehow the key
that unlocks the door which leads
to ultimate communion!

Sr. Theresa Baldini

World Kindness Day

Someone mentioned to me this morning that today is World Kindness Day and I thought, Now isn’t that a nice thing to promote? Then when I gave it a little more thought it occurred to me, Isn’t  it strange that we have to designate a special day in the year to make sure that we do something kind for someone?!?

When I was a child there was a little comic strip called “Good Deed Dotty”. Everyday little Dotty would do something good for somebody she saw in need and jot down in her little notebook, “That’s that for today”.

As Christian’s – or just as members of the Human Family – aren’t we called to be aware of our brothers and sisters in need,  every day  and do something kind for them?

Becoming a Maryknoll Sister

Roida Sinaga, an aspirant from Sumatra, now in East Timor.
Roida Sinaga, an aspirant from Sumatra, now in East Timor.

Mother Mary Joseph said, in 1945, that “Each Sister has seen her own star and had the grace to follow it.” The same “star” which led the Magi to seek Jesus in Bethlehem and to announce the good news of his birth is also guiding our own faith. It is a privilege to accompany others whose calling has inspired them to become Maryknoll missioners.

Since I have only been in Maryknoll for ten years, this is a new and challenging ministry. I still wonder if I’m skillful and mature enough to help others to discern their own vocation. Fortunately, we are a small community united in our desire to welcome women, accompany them and pray with them. The Spirit is helping us all to be honest, caring and attentive, so I know thatwe’re in good hands.

Two aspirants I met in Korea.
Two aspirants I met in Korea.

Recently, while I was in Korea, I had the chance to meet two aspirants seeking mission with Maryknoll. We had a great time sharing experiences of community, our longing to be of service and how to engage in mission. It’s not easy to be a newcomer. Especially with fewer people joining us, women must have courage. Leaving one’s home country, living within new cultures and diverse communities, require a lot of faith. I was inspired to meet them and join them in prayer as we journey together.

As Vocations Contact Person in East Timor, I try to support all those seeking Religious life and the priesthood. Indeed the harvest is plentiful…but labourers are few. Please pray for us and consider supporting our Vocation Ministry.

Discerning God’s Call

At the Dominican Friars’ place in Dili, I gave a talk on St. Dominic to aspirants at a vocational meeting. Some youth whom I accompany will be testing on Nov. 22 to enter. Pray for them!
At the Dominican Friars’ place in Dili, I gave a talk on St. Dominic to aspirants at a vocational meeting. Some youth whom I accompany will be testing on Nov. 22 to enter. Pray for them!

In contrast to schools in Europe, the USA, Canada and most Asian countries, many students in East Timor aspire to become priests, Sisters or Brothers. There are dozens of Religious Orders registered with the local Church that work in parishes, run schools, formation centers and various ministries. The Diocesan Seminaries are also quite crowed.

Why do so many youth in East Timor aspire to become priests and Religious? On the one hand, it’s related to high levels of unemployment, the high cost of university education, few vocational options and the privileged status of Religious in East Timorese society. Such socioeconomic factors are undeniable, but they don’t tell the whole story.

Sr. Maria do Céu, OP, was a guest speaker in my classes, offering another model of Religious missionary life for my students to consider. She did a great job of sharing that within each of us is a “light,” a Light which is meant to be shared!
Sr. Maria do Céu, OP, was a guest speaker in my classes, offering another model of Religious missionary life for my students to consider. She did a great job of sharing that within each of us is a “light,” a Light which is meant to be shared!

Youth in East Timor have grown up with the powerful presence of the Catholic Church. Many are very grateful to the priests, Bishops, Religious and even Pope John Paul II, who supported them in their fight for Independence. Some local priests, Sisters and Bishops are still revered as heroes or champions of a cause that took so many lives. In general, their faith in God is strong and they want the Church to play a major role in their society.

Seven of my students attended the Dominican Friars’ “Come and See” vocational event.
Seven of my students attended the Dominican Friars’ “Come and See” vocational event.

As I try to understand young women and men’s motivations for joining the priesthood or Religious life, I find common themes. One is leadership. The Church and her ministers, both men and women, play important leadership roles in society. Young people regard religious life and priesthood as ways of exercising leadership among the faithful. Service is another aspect. Nearly all aspirants speak of their desire and calling to serve others, build them up, educate and/or lead them to God.

Lastly, there is the common element of wanting to consecrate their lives to God in love. It’s a joy and honor to accompany youth who feel called to such a vocation. Discerning deeply and sorting out their motivations take time, but there are plenty of people to help them. As a teacher, I also feel called to witness Maryknoll’s evangelical life among my students and help them to discern their own call.

Visiting Joana’s family in her village of Uaimori (Viqueque) in late October.
Visiting Joana’s family in her village of Uaimori (Viqueque) in late October.
In February, our Sisters’ community met with Joana da Costa, an aspirant of Maryknoll Sisters (seated left of me, on the right).
In February, our Sisters’ community met with Joana da Costa, an aspirant of Maryknoll Sisters (seated left of me, on the right).

Joana and I became friends in 2008, while I stayed at the local boarding home for poor students. She was one of the women in charge and taught me so much about East Timor.

In 2013, she expressed her desire to join Maryknoll Sisters and is now in our Admissions process. I ask for your prayers and ongoing support, so that we may continue reaching out and welcoming women into our mission!

A new generation of peacemakers

Olga, an 11th grade student at St. Paul Catholic High School, wrote a speech ‘Stopping Violence Against Women’ to commemorate East Timor’s Independence Day in May.
Olga, an 11th grade student at St. Paul Catholic High School, wrote a speech ‘Stopping Violence Against Women’ to commemorate East Timor’s Independence Day in May.

My story of leadership training and peace-building in Aileu goes back to 2008, when I came to East Timor. This mission field had been plowed, sown and cultivated by previous Maryknoll Sisters. The soil was not only fertile, but scattered with seedlings. It was up to the Holy Spirit and me to help them grow and bear fruit. In particular, two young men were very eager to work with me. Both had received basic training in the art of dialogue and wanted to share their knowledge with other youth. From this impetus, we invited teenagers to workshops and introduced them to forms of dialogue, conflict transformation and peacemaking. After two fruitful years, the group disbanded and I focused more on teaching.

My student Abrão, below, won 1st place for his speech on Education.
My student Abrão, below, won 1st
place for his speech on Education.

Yet in 2015, after graduating from college, João dos Santos asked me to continue this work. It was a joy to support him, witnessing to his maturity and growing passion for peace. From May to October, we co-facilitated nine workshops in various schools. João designed materials on leadership skills, dialogue and conflict transformation. He led the sessions and I took on a supportive, mentoring role. It became clearer that such skills are truly needed—and that our work is not done.

In many respects, the youth I’ve met long for peace in their families, communities and nation. Domestic violence is fairly common, while civil strife and political violence still hover like dark clouds in their collective consciousness. Fortunately, some youth have begun the critical work of looking within to see the roots of violence—and of peace—within their own lives.

May the Spirit help us to deepen & expand our work for peace!

João dos Santos (left) is my partner in the work of introducing youth to the art of dialogue and conflict transformation. These photos were taken at leadership trainings at two public high schools.
João dos Santos (left) is my partner in the work of introducing youth to the art of dialogue and
conflict transformation. These photos were taken at leadership trainings at two public high schools.