How are the Maryknoll Sisters making a difference in their local community?
Recently, 10 of our Sisters began volunteering to teach English as a Second Language (ESL) at Neighbors Link in Mount Kisco, NY. The Neighbors Link mission is to strengthen the whole community through the healthy integration of immigrants, offering education and empowerment programs. The Sisters dedication to service and peaceful presence is having a profound impact at the center.
Sister Mary Duffy worked in Central America most of her life. At Neighbors Link, “it is delightful to meet people from Guatemala and other areas where I have been. I appreciate the richness of their culture and being there to help them learn another culture and situate themselves in a new place. This program is a tremendous opportunity for both of us to learn from each other.”
Sister Liz Erbland has a passion for teaching. She taught special education for many years but also found that she loved teaching ESL. She says Neighbors Link clients are “Sweet and kind and willing. We laugh a lot and have a great time together.”
Sister Peggy Hennessey spent 57 years in Peru and Bolivia. For her, “being at Neighbors Link, being around people who speak Spanish again, is something I love.” Recently she worked with a man with limited English and very little education. Every time he was able to really understand a new English word and what it meant, he would exclaim, “how beautiful!”
How can you waste less water? Follow these simple tips!
• Don’t use running water to thaw food. Defrost food in the refrigerator.
• Keep a pitcher of drinking water in the refrigerator instead of running the tap.
• When washing dishes by hand, don’t let the water run. Fill one basin with wash water and the other with rinse water.
• Don’t leave the water running while you brush your teeth.
• Plug the sink instead of running the water to rinse your razor..
• When washing your hands, turn the water off while you lather.
• Be sure to test your toilet for leaks at least once a year.
• Wash cars/boats with a bucket, sponge, and hose with self-closing nozzle.
• Plant drought-resistant trees and plants.
• Check your sprinkler system frequently and adjust sprinklers so only your lawn is watered and not the house, sidewalk, or street.
Some Cambodians believe eating crickets regularly improves health and longevity. The insects have always been a popular ingredient in Cambodian cuisine; they’re prepared and enjoyed in many forms, including dried, boiled and fried. Consumed for their nutritional value as well as their taste, crickets are an incredibly popular snack in the markets of Cambodia and other parts of Asia. Crickets are praised as a sustainable food source; they’re rich in protein and are an excellent source of healthy fats and micro nutrients. But to a 40-year old Cambodian mother of three living with AIDS, crickets are simply a source of hope and promise.
Leap Chantheoun was working in a garment factory in Phnom Penh making $2 a day when she heard about Maryknoll’s Seedling of Hope program. Leap left her rural home for the city as a way to support her family, like many other young women she works with. These women have very little schooling and few options for employment. Most of them end up working in garment factories where ignorance, poverty and loneliness place them at high risk for HIV/AIDS. Seedlings of Hope makes it a point to proactively reach out to these women, providing awareness and sex education to reduce the spread and the stigma of HIV/AIDS. Leap, who left her two children with their grandmother in the country, was suffering from the ravaging effects of AIDS and getting weaker by the day. As a divorced mother of two living in extreme poverty, she did not have the resources to address her failing health, her crippling depression and her family’s needs. Unable to make ends meet, Leap came to Seedling of Hope for physical and psychological healing.
Established in 1995, Seedling of Hope was a response to the growing HIV/AIDS crisis in Cambodia. Current Director and Maryknoll Sister Len Montiel describes the program as a “combination of awareness education and hands-on health services.” As one of the first organizations in Cambodia to introduce home-based care and education on caring for those dying with HIV, “the possibility of a loving, dignified and compassionate death became an option for those stigmatized and marginalized by HIV/AIDS,” she says of the program. “But with the widespread use of anti-retro virus drugs, AIDS is no longer a death sentence. We focus now on the possibilities of a loving, dignified and compassionate life.”
Leap received anti-retro virus therapy through Seedling of Hope “Soon, I got much better and healthier,” she says. As she regained her health, she began to reintegrate into society, both socially and economically. She married Keo, who is HIV negative, and they had a baby girl who is also HIV-free. Their HIV-negative status is just one of the happy outcomes of Seedling of Hope’s education efforts. Leap also received a grant from the Maryknoll Sisters that she used to start a small business in her home. She is now the proprietor of a business that is really hopping — raising and selling crickets. A perfect profession for a woman named Leap!
Leap raises the crickets in her home where she lives with Keo and their three children. The house came to the family through Seedling of Hope’s partnership with Habitat for Humanity. In the room that she added on as her business grew, several open wooden crates hold crickets in various stages of development. When the insects mature in 30 days, they’re “harvested” and boiled, ready for the local market. Leap sells the boiled crickets for about 45 cents a pound. In a good month, she and Keo can earn $1000 – a significant improvement over the $2 a day she made as a factory worker.
Leap’s story is one of special ways Seedling of Hope improves the quality of life of destitute people living with HIV/AIDS. People in their prime are no longer dying from this disease but are living normal productive lives — thanks to the efforts of the Maryknoll Sisters. Their work in education and health care in Cambodia as well as 23 other countries gives hope and healing to people like Leap and her family.
You can help too! Your donation gives the Maryknoll Sisters the means to serve the poor and oppressed around the world.
A Prayer for Hope
Like the flowers of spring,
Hope brings new life and joy.
Send the bright spirit of hope
to our hurting world.
When we are lonely and afraid
Weary and discouraged
Send us hope.
May we live each day
In joyful hope.
We ask this through Mary,
The Mother of Hope
— prayer by Sister Noel Devine, M.M.
Royal Rice Recipe from Cambodia
Throughout the years, our Sisters have gathered various recipes from their various missions around the world. We now want to share these delicious and easily prepared recipes with you. Here’s a native Cambodian rice recipe that goes great with crickets!
2 chicken legs, uncooked
½ lb. lean pork
4 shrimps, shelled and deveined
¾ cup of lard fat
3 cups of cooked rice
Pinch of fennel seed or fennel sprigs
2 tbs. vinegar
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 ½ cups of medium white sauce
1/8 tsp. Chinese five-spice essence
2 tbs. powdered sugar
Dash of pepper
2 tbs. pimiento strips
Juice of 1 lemon
Wash and dice chicken, pork and shrimp. Brown scallions in fat in skillet. Add meat and shrimp and saute for 30 minutes. Mix in cooked rice. Add fennel, sugar, vinegar, white sauce, five-spice essence, salt and pepper. Heat a few minutes to blend flavors.Pour eggs into a greased skillet and heat until almost firm, then turn over. Remove eggs from heat and cut into ¼ inch strips and add to mixture. Transfer mixture to serving dish and garnish with pimientos and additional fennel. Sprinkle with lemon juice. (Serves 4)
Earth Day is a movement that has given voice to an emerging consciousness of the unity of creation and the ‘new creation’ that is the resurrection of Jesus. The mutual love between God and God’s people calls us to love and care for one another and all of creation.
Praise Be to You
“The Earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth,” Pope Francis wrote in his encyclical that highlights the climate change crisis. He blames consumerism, overconsumption, and dependence on fossil fuels for this unprecedented destruction of ecosystems, and warns that there will be serious consequence for all of us if we do not take action quickly. The most vulnerable victims, he says, are the world’s poorest people, who are being dislocated and disregarded.
We ask that you take action and pray on Earth Day and every day as the Maryknoll Sisters work to safeguard the gift of creation that our Creator has entrusted us.
Prayer for the Earth
you are present in the whole universe
and in the smallest of your creatures.
You embrace with your tenderness
all that exists.Pour out upon us
the power of your love,
that we may protect life and beauty.
Fill us with peace,
that we may live as brothers and sisters,
harming no one.
O God of the poor,
help us to rescue
the abandoned and forgotten
of this earth,
so precious in your eyes.Bring healing to our lives,
that we may protect the world
and not prey on it,
that we may sow beauty,
not pollution and destruction.
Touch the hearts of those who look only for gain
at the expense of the poor and the earth.Teach us to discover the worth of each thing,
to be filled with awe and contemplation,
to recognize that we are profoundly united
with every creature as we journey
towards your infinite light.
We thank you for being with us each day.
Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle
for justice, love and peace.
— Pope Francis
Join our month long Earth Day Celebration on social media! Look for our daily posts on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn & Twitter on how our Sisters are helping the environment each day! Also, find tips on how you can help the planet! #GoGreen
Building an Earth Community
Sister Ann’s Earth Ministry Work Around the World
Sr. Ann Braudis, MM, just returned from Guatemala where she spent the month of February investigating justice issues related to the abuse of rivers and the people and wildlife that depend on them. While there, she met with Mayan community members who live in Sayaxche, along the Passion River, which has been contaminated by a toxic industrial spill. This has caused immense hardship and worry to the community who depend upon the river for their livelihood and water needs.
Last April, in this remote area of Guatemala, a toxic spill from a drainage container used by the African palm oil company Reforestadora de Palma del Petén (REPSA) contaminated the Pasión river, on which the people there depend. All of the 23 species of fish and other river life, and animals dependent on the river, died.
Palm oil companies have cultivated more than 80 percent of the land surrounding and in the town of Sayaxche. The production of edible palm oil is a process that uses large quantities of water and toxic pesticides, and is destructive to the soil. REPSA’s palm oil reaches the U.S. in products like ice cream, soap, and shampoo, as well as bio fuel which is in ever increasing demand.
Sister Ann met with community members who raised numerous concerns about these human and land rights violations. Nearly everyone spoke; their stories were heart-rending and traced years of abuse. There is great concern for the children who are ill due to the contaminated environment.
The indigenous people who suffer from these abuses need many things to survive. Among them are:
A justice system to process land claims and other legal issues
Credit to facilitate investment in local projects.
These services are guaranteed by the constitution but due to old style politics and rural poverty, a sense of hopelessness is everywhere. With your support, the Maryknoll Sisters can bring hope and help to the Guatemalan indigenous people.
Sister Ann also founded the Center for Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation in 1993, an ecological sanctuary in Baguio, Philippines that offers educational activities such as retreats, seminars and workshops. These programs explore how to take care of the earth.
Drawing on science and faith, the Maryknoll Sisters hope to change hearts and minds about caring for creation, especially for the younger generation.
An ecological sanctuary of 2.8 hectares of pine forest, gardens and an area dedicated to biodynamic cultivation, the Center for Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation offers educational activities for taking care of the earth. Emphasis is placed on an artistic and spiritual approach to the topic of caring for God’s creation.
In the United States
Here in the U.S., Sister Ann is engaged with the Saw Mill River Coalition, a a dynamic partnership of nonprofit groups, government agencies, municipalities and businesses dedicated to revitalizing and protecting the Saw Mill River, a tributary to the Hudson River in NY.
How can you make a difference?
Please help Sister Ann in her mission, as well as all our Sisters who serve poor, oppressed and marginalized people in 24 countries around the world.
Join our week long Earth Day Celebration on social media! Look for our daily posts on Instagram, Facebook, & Twitter on how our Sisters are helping the environment each day! Also, find tips on how you can help the planet! #GoGreen
Reforesting Forests and Mountains Back To Life
Sister Marvie’s Earth Ministry in the Philippines
by Sister Marvie L. Misolas, MM
The winding road that Joe, our driver, followed after exiting the main highway was narrow and winding. Typical wooden structures intermittently appeared as we drove past part paved and rugged paths. Finally, Beth Galas, the community organizer said, “We are here!” We arrived in Barangay Calawis in Antipolo. This area of Antipolo is largely part of the Marikina Upper Watershed Protected Landscape where the forests and mountains have been deforested badly causing flash floods in the lower areas during typhoon and rainy seasons draining itself to Marikina River.
I climbed a carved hardened mud stairs to the top. My mind was wandering just how slimy these mud stairs during rainy days. At the top of the stairs, a covered vegetable nursery is bursting with greens. Light shades of green lettuce sparkling under the sun dancing like jagged jades. The meeting hall was still empty. Virgie, the leader of the group arrived and opened the locked nursery, showing me their community vegetable garden.
One by one, the women, some with their children came and sat inside the hall, made of bamboos. I was told some of them had to walk for 4 hours to get there. This group is composed of Dumagats-Remontado tribes, and migrants to the area. I suggested that while waiting for the people to arrive that I see their seedling nursery. It was not very far from the meeting area. I was so impressed to see how lush and green are the seedlings in black polybags, some are about two feet high, ready for planting in June/August, when rain comes. The nursery is filled with wonderful energy, the little plants bursting forth and shining with their fresh green shoots. These seedling totaling more than 100,000 are left from the 200,000 seedlings planted last year.
My three companions started sharing their stories…how their lives were changed because of Maryknoll Sisters helping them by providing funding to buy the polybags. They were able to purchase 200,000 bags, which they all used for planting the seedlings. Last year’s planting of 100,000 seedlings have given many of their members much needed income to sustain their families.
The project did not only benefit the household, but helped their organization opened a rice cooperative, helping members secure rice loans for staple and pay it back. The farmers and forest dwellers were able to veer away from cutting down forest for charcoal making, their only means of livelihood from the forest. For one of the women, she and her husband were able to get married in the Church. One of the elders was very proud, his daughter were able to graduate from college and is now teaching in the local primary school. What is also exciting to know is the return of the biodiversity in the area…like fireflies, lizards, wild chickens, frogs, and many other animals have come back which was truly amazing. I cried listening to them, because their stories gave me so much hope how the environment can be helped regenerate itself.
“I used to cut the forests to make charcoal, now I plant trees and realized my responsibility to care for the forest which gives us life.”
We were back in the meeting hall and the people also shared their little victories, how the project brought positive effects to their lives. The continuation of the project, have made it possible for the young mothers to stay in their homes to start seedlings for sale to the government reforestation program. This means they can have continuous livelihood and at the same time, heal the forests and care for the environment.
When asked what kind of help they would still need, they said: planting tools such as planting spades, shovels, mattocks, grass cutters, etc. They need to make fire lines to protect the young trees from forest fires and monitor their growth. They also need boots for protection from snakes. They also appealed if they can be helped to give their children school supplies for the coming school year in June and some basic medicines for fever and pain.
The women asked if they could be helped to plant cash crops such as turmeric and post-harvest processing and marketing. This way, they said, they can continue to support their husbands while staying with their younger children. Their experience going to the planting site, they had to go for two weeks away from families. Children are left with relatives while they plant. The Calawis group now has 95 members, majority are women, numbering 54. This group is pretty much organized.
They hope Maryknoll Sisters will continue to support their little steps towards development and sustain their community and forest economy. They vowed to protect the forest so that it can recover and biodiversity restored. They thank the Maryknoll Sisters and their benefactors.
Please help Sister Marvie in her mission, as well as all our Sisters who serve poor, oppressed and marginalized people in 24 countries around the world.
“We are not here on Earth to be alone, but to be a part of a living community, a web of life in which all is sacred. Like the cells of our body, all of life is in constant communication, as science is just beginning to understand. No bird sings in isolation, no bud breaks open alone. And the most central note that is present in life is its sacred nature, something we need to each rediscover and honor anew. We need to learn once again how to walk and breathe in a sacred universe, to feel this heartbeat of life. Hearing its presence speaks to us, we feel this great bond of life that supports and nourishes us all. Today’s world may still at times make us feel lonely, but we can then remember what every animal, every insect, every plant knows — and only we have forgotten: the living sacred whole.”
“…join together, building not only human community, but the Earth Community.”
– Sister Ann Braudis, MM
Wouldn’t you like to help save the rainforest?
There is growing destruction of the surrounding rainforest in Panama with companies buying up the land for teak plantations, chopping down trees and contaminating the soil and water with chemicals from their operations.
Your gift enables Maryknoll Sisters such as Melinda Roper to teach farmers in the rain forests of Panama to care for the land with organic farming methods, reducing deforestation while maintaining livelihoods.
One of the important aspects of our life and mission in Darien, Panama, is working closely with the native communities. Many of the natives struggle with their sense of identity and living out their culture with integrity in a globalizing world. And, since a big part of their heritage is upholding the sacredness of the land and their rootedness in it, accompanying them in their efforts to reclaim their cultural identity and continue healthy practices of working with and living in harmony with the land is an imperative.
Did you know there is a river of burning water?
It is the Condoraque River in Peru, and it is being filled by acid drainage and toxic sludge from mining activity. Sister Pat Ryan is working hard to stop environmental issues such as this and you can help too!
Sister Pat is in Peru working with the Organization for Human Rights and the Environment, offering educational services, information and legal advice, and acting with the indigenous people to defend their rights and the rights of Mother Earth. With your help, this organization, with Sister Pat, can achieve their goal to equip and empower the Aymara & Quechua native people with the understanding and skills to non-violently focus on working to curb irresponsible mining activities that disrespect indigenous people’s rights and threaten the environment and the people’s water supply in the area.
How can you make a difference?
Here in the U.S., Sister Ann is engaged with the Saw Mill River Coalition for the clean-up and restoration of the Saw Mill River in Yonkers, NY. Your gift also enables Sister Ann to help with the mission of restoring and protecting the Saw Mill River through improving water quality and encouraging sustainable land use.
These are only a few examples of the Maryknoll Sisters dedicated to improving the environment. Sister Marvie Misolas has spent the past two years in the Philippines working with the Green Convergence Philippines Organization. Sister Connie Pospisil is helping with Human and Land Rights violation
Please help these Sisters in their missions, as well as all our Sisters who serve poor, oppressed and marginalized people in 24 countries around the world.
“For the first time in several years we have had the opportunity to do something together and not just theoretically. East Timor is mainly rural and the people depend on farming. When the territory was invaded by Indonesia in 1975, most of the country’s infrastructure was destroyed. Scarce water supplies and deforestation have caused soil erosion and massive landslides. The people are extremely poor and in dire need.”
Sister Rosalva came to us from Bolivia where she worked as a computer programmer. She has a BA in computer analysis and a BS in computer science. Recently she made her Final Vows to live the rest of her life as a Maryknoll Sister. Now her analytical skills are put to good use conducting health programs, developing ways to prevent malaria, caring for land scarred by war, and teaching youth the very basics so they can provide better lives for their families.
Sister was tasked with helping the people in Manucasa turn things around. That meant calling on the people and motivating them to change attitudes and work habits. It meant pulling together people with different religious beliefs and encouraging them to focus on the common good. “It was an opportunity to unite the community in ecumenical dialogue and it worked! The common need for water and soil conservation enabled people to see and listen to each other in new ways,” Sister Rosalva emphasized. “There were bound to be differences but everyone knew the common good was at stake.”
Sister Rosalva has been in East Timor since 2002. She has lived through many changes and is seeking even more ways that will help the children and their families for their own survival and for the survival of the land.
By her prayerful and respectful approach, Sister has won their hearts and trust. According to her, “The people own these changes and are proud to be part of them. What more could anyone hope for?”
Please help Sister Rosalva in her ministry, as well as all our Sisters who serve poor, oppressed and marginalized people in 24 countries around the world.
When you send your gift, please also send us your prayer intentions so we may remember them.
Please remember to keep Sister Rosalva – and all our Sisters – in your prayers.
When I was younger there was almost a competition among my friends about who could give up the most for Lent. You usually chose what were considered comparatively hard, difficult things like: not eating candy, no arguing with your brothers and sisters, going to Mass more often in the mornings, obeying your mother without complaining etc. We also waited for Sundays to come when there was no fasting or need to fulfill these promises! Now all this was good and fitting for a child, but as we grew older we changed to more difficult objectives. Now I am more interested in DOING something rather than GIVING UP certain things during the Lenten Season.
Need Suggestions? How about these for a starter?
Listen to others and try not to monopolize the conversation at table or elsewhere.
Greet those you meet with a smile, as they might need this at that moment.
Set aside some extra time for God “Be still and know that I am God” Ps 40;10.
Offer to help someone who looks like she/he might need some help but can’t seem to ask for it.
Take time to relax each day with reading, listening to music, or just taking a good long siesta.
Go for long walk with no destination in mind and commune with the joy of God’s creation.
Visit someone who is ill and see if you can do something for that person.
Greet any request for help with a smile even if you know this will interrupt your work for a bit.
Spend some time each day if possible in chapel or church, just being in God’s presence
Take time to read something from the Scriptures each day and meditate on what you read.
Do a spontaneous good deed for someone.
Put some extra prayer time in your day instead of watching TV.
The joyous celebration of Christ’s Resurrection brings us a deep sense of hope in our Risen Savior. All of our Maryknoll Sisters pray that this Holy Season brings you much peace. I also wish to thank you for your faithful support of our ministries. Your gifts mean that our Sisters – like Sister Mary Grenough whose story I bring you today – can help people immobilized by poverty, suffering with HIV/AIDS or struggling with righting wrongs.
Sister Mary joined the Maryknoll Sisters in 1956 and then completed a Masters Degree in Nursing. This year she will celebrate her 60th Jubilee in the Community. Early in her ministry Sister Mary served in the Philippines, where she met and worked with the farmers in the sugar cane fields.
“Poverty is extreme in many areas of the Philippines,” says Sister Mary. “I spent one week working with the women in the sugar cane fields who earned only $3 per week. I asked, ‘Do you ever get used to the work?’ And the answer was: ‘Oh, yes, we get used to the work. What we’ll never get used to are the cries of our children who cannot sleep because they’re hungry.’”
“In Myanmar, it is difficult for people to count on a steady income, land, even food or education. When families cannot meet their basic needs, they rely on their faith in God. One thing is true: their faith is essential for survival,” reflected Sister Mary.
Her mission, which started with only three Catholic groups helping HIV/AIDS patients, eventually became the Myanmar Catholic HIV/AIDS Network and grew to include almost all the dioceses in Myanmar.
Before these initiatives, patients diagnosed with HIV/AIDS were shunned by their local communities. They were afraid to even go to Church. With the dedicated commitment of all the staff in this program, people were educated about the disease and learned what precautions to take. Because of Sister Mary’s personal experience of the struggles of poor people in the Philippines, she was able to go beyond providing health care and education in Myanmar – to obtaining basic human rights for the people.
Sister Mary’s ministry is vital to making sure marginated people have a better life. She has lived through many changes and is seeking even more that will help the children and their families reach new heights. The people are hopeful and working for their own survival.
Sister Mary reflects on her mission…“The God that brought me to Maryknoll is no longer the God that keeps me here. My understanding of creation, of God, of the meaning of life has all changed. Now God is speaking to me through so many people and so many circumstances!”
Please do not forget to send us your prayer intentions so we may remember them. Also, please remember to keep Sister Mary, the staff in Myanmar – and all our Sisters – in your prayers. Thank you for your gifts – they truly help our Sisters and they help keep alive their vital ministries. We continue to count on your help so we may reach out in love to poor people in many different parts of the world. Happy Easter!
This Giving Tuesday YOU can help those living on less than $1.90 per day!