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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

D'Escoto unleashed

Fr. Miguel D'Escoto met with the community on Wednesday afternoon in the Asia Room for about an hour of "sharing" his experiences this past year as president of the U.N. General Assembly.

For a time Miguel was not granted a visa to come to the U.S. because he was considered a "terrorist" by some in Washington. Most of the times he wanted to come to the States was to give retreats, like to Pax Christi or at the behest of Bishop Gumbleton, yet he never knew if he'd be admitted to the U.S. or not. His ten years on the do-not-fly list corresponded with some health setbacks, notably bouts of vertigo which he feared would prevent him from exercising his U.N. duties.

Miguel said these issues prevented him from visiting Maryknoll as often as he'd wanted to in the past. But he said, "There was never a day that went that I didn't give thanks to God for bringing me to Maryknoll." He asked God and the Blessed Mother to give him the strength and grace to fulfill his office. He accepted the presidency as an opportunity to "speak on behalf of the dispossessed."

Three weeks ago Fidel Castro asked Miguel if he "believed in miracles." Miguel replied, "No, I don't believe in miracles. I rely on them."

The president of the assembly outranks the Secretary General in protocol with the status of head of state. The president serves for one year; the S.G. for five years.

He told the U.N. in his final speech that it was "beyond reform." It must be rebuilt from scratch. Few member nations today think anything good can come of the U.N.

While the U.N. does an immense number of good things, it was created to prevent the recurrence of war and to help eradicate hunger and poverty. Miguel says on these two issues the U.N. has failed.

Miguel was happy to report the demise of the "Project New American Century", brainchild of Paul Wolfowitz (architect of the Iraq war) following the collapse of the Soviet Union. This gave rise to the disasterous "preventive war" (not pre-emptive) foreign policy of Pres. George W. Bush, which was in effect when Miguel began his presidency of the assembly.

Miguel worked with Noam Chomsky at M.I.T. to produce a new way to deal with international finances just as the financial crisis rocked the world. He invited top economists from around the world to discuss the situation before the General Assembly and to inject new passion into that world body. He overcame objections that this would be a breach of protocol since only world leaders or ambassadors speak to the Assembly. He had Assembly members respond to the panel of experts. When Great Britain and other countries objected to this breach in protocol, Miguel responded, "I do not ask permission to defend the rights of the poor to life."

Initailly the Vatican opposed Miguel's candidacy, even coming to Maryknoll to pressure then Super G John Sivalon. Despite this formal opposition and campaigning against him, Miguel was elected. Miguel says he holds no grudge against the nuncio because he was only doing what he thought was right.

He admires the nuncio for being gracious enough to come and wish him well following his successful election. Migliori told D'Escoto, "The Holy Father is very proud that 'one of us' (i.e. a fellow priest) is giving these speeches (at the U.N.)." The pope also sent a message through the nuncio blessing MIguel and saying of his intention to pray for him and bless him and the financial meeting during the pope's June 14th public Angelus at St. Peter's.

Last month Cardinal Migliori invited Father General and the President of the Maryknoll Sisters to a special Mass of Thanksgiving at the nunciature in New York City as Miguel finished his tenure. He even invited Miguel to preach.

The nuncio said he was going to speak to the pope about Miguel's suspension, now in its 30th year, which is unprecedented and, in Miguel's opinion, a violation of canon law. In his homily, Miguel said nothing could have been a more painful punishment for him.

Miguel ended by telling our community: "Saying Mass or attending Mass is not as important as living the Mass, that is, living a life of risk, putting our life on the line for our brothers and sisters around the world."

Ciaò, Clyde!

EMPLOYEES & MARYKNOLLERS gathered at 10:00 a.m. in the Founders' Room to say thank you and goodbye to Fr. Clyde Phillips, who officially ends his second term as U.S. regional today. Amid coffee, tea, cakes, cookies, flan, shortcake, coffee cake, pepperoni and assorted nosherei, both outgoing first assistant regional, Fr. Mike Duggan and then assistant to head of MEP, Fr. Wayman Deasy, spoke words of tribute.

Mike likened the gathering to a funeral in that we are sad to see the guest of honor go, but we know he's going to a far better place. In Clyde's case, it's to Rome, as the new procurator of the Society and head of our Via Sardegna house where he will serve as our official liaison to the Vatican.

Wayman recalled that he has served as assistant to the head of MEP since the days of Fr. Ray Hill and has seen the demise of a series of department heads. He quipped that he volunteered to go to Rome himself but the Holy Father declined as he wants to hang on to his job a little longer.

Clyde than thanked those who helped him perform the duties of his offices, notable Ms. Denise Schneider as admin assistant and Fr. Ernie Lukaschek, as pastoral coordinator. We wish Clyde well on this

latest chapter of his mission career and thank him for his years of service to the U.S. region and MEP. Fr. Dougherty will serve as interim regional till the end of October when the final ballots will be tabulated.


Bishop Quinn Weitzel of Pago-Pago, American Samoa reports: The latest death toll is 25 (MSNBC puts the number at 100+) with extensive damage. Schools are closed until at least next week. Homeless people are now being housed at the Diocesan Center and John Paul II Youth Center.

Please keep him, the Samoans and all the Pacific Islanders in your prayers as they continue to suffer more natural disasters.

President Obama has declared American Samoa a disaster area.

More underreported is the catastrophe which struck the Philippines over the weekend. A message from Fr. Jerry Burr to Super G Ed Dougherty and posted on the bulletin board states in part:

Last Saturday (Sept 25) 17 inches of rain fell in a 12-hour period. Streets, canals and creeks turned into raging rivers and carried many victims away. Some people drowned in their own homes. The death toll is 250+. Almost 2 million people have been driven from their homes. Eighty percent of Manilla, a metropolis of 12 million people, is flooded. The damage is staggering and rescue efforts, so far, pitiful. Thousands are without homes, food and water.

Two Maryknollers in Manilla, Fr. Jim Ferry and Fr. Jim Kroeger, are on relatively high ground. A Maryknoll employee, Renato, did not fare so well. He left work early on Saturday, being concerned about his family. He could not get near his house due to the torrents of water. His wife and small children spent the night on the roof of the house in the pouring rain as water was well above the second floor. They lost everything but are just grateful to be alive.

Former Maryknoller Dave Viehland and his wife "N.J.", employees of UCAN, lost all their possessions and their house. They and their son and grandchildren are staying at the Maryknoll House and looking to resettle somewhere.

Please keep the people of the Philippines and Maryknollers there in your prayers.

Lots going on

THE KNOLL IS BUZZING today with all kinds of goings-on. First, a Despidida at 10:00 a.m. in the Founders' Room for Fr. Clyde Phillips whose term as regional superior ends today. Fr. Ed Dougherty has asked Clyde to stay at least till this weekend, when Doc returns from Rom. Doc will act as interim regional until our voting finishes later this month.

The annual boat ride up the Hudson will take place today between 10:30 and 2:20, lunch included. Nothing can ever top the excitement of the attempted boat ride several years ago when the ship actually sank, luckily before we boarded.

The highlight of the day should be the conversations with Fr. Miguel D'Escoto this afternoon at 4:00 p.m. who will share his experiences as
president of the U.N. General assembly. But for this Blogger's money, nothing tops the latest addition to Miguel's family: eight-week old Tilla, a yellow lab pup. Hopi and she have not yet been properly introduced!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

MK Brothers festivities

A GRAND TIME was had by all at the Mass of St. Michael, followed by a happy hour and steak dinner. Kudos to Br. Kevin, whose efforts paid off as 11 Brothers and most of the resident community attended. (Note from Larry Liturgy: "What's with processing in with the Sacramentary? You'd think by now we'd have the rubrics down."

Aside from that faux pas, things went smoothly if musically sparingly with just an opening hymn (Amazing Grace) and closing with the updated Maryknoll hymn, sung á capella as Judy, our organist, was a no-show. Apparently a last minute scramble to find the version of the MK hymn with a verse about the Brothers proved futile.

There are only 53 Brothers left, an endangered species indeed.

Earthquake hits American Samoa

(UPDATED) A 8.3 earthquake has hit American Samoa where Maryknoll Bishop Quinn Weitzel lives. The earthquake may be big enough to spawn a tsunami of between 10~15 feet, according to MSNBC. So far minimal damage has been reported, mostly electricity outages. A 5 ft. wave has struck Western Samoa. A 2 ft. wave would be strong enough to sweep you out to sea, according to MSNBC. Pago-Pago (where Bishop Weitzel lives) reports only minor damage.

Please keep him and all the Samoans and Pacific Islanders in your prayers.

Happy Birthday, Betty!

MARYKNOLLERS & EMPLOYEES gathered this afternoon on the library patio to celebrate Betty Vetere's 70 years of life and, on the same day, her 33rd anniversary of working for Maryknoll. Archives hosted the cake-and-coffee event from 2 p.m. to 3.

Archives is another hidden gem here at the Center with documents, letters and artifacts not just from Maryknoll missioners but also from years predating our creation. My personal favorite was dusted off and put on display 23 years ago when we celebrated our 75th anniversary: a porcelain doll of St. Bernadette.

As I recall the story, Father Price liked to go to Lourdes on retreat and/or vacation and help out with confessions. In those days priests did not sup with nuns, but the good Sisters took pity on our Co-Founder and, concerned about his dining alone, presented him with this beautiful doll of his spiritual bride: St. Bernadette Soubirous.

Among correspondence is a letter from Pres. Theodore Roosevelt encouraging the formation of a U.S. missionary society, hoping it would send missioners to the Phillipines to cultivate a pro-American mentality among the colony recently won from Spain. Whoever thinks politics doesn't mix with religion knows little about either.

Feast of St. Michael the Archangel

CONGRATULATIONS to the Maryknoll Brothers on this, the feast day of their patron saint. Highlight of the day will be a community Mass at 4:15 in the main chapel, followed by preprandials in the Third Floor rec room and beer & wine at supper.

Out-going regional, Fr. Clyde Philips will be the celebrant with Br. John Blazo and Fr. Mike Duggan doing the readings.

Officially known as the Auxiliary Brothers of St. Michael, the Maryknoll Brothers' charisms are community and hospitality, and luckily not leading the heavenly hosts in cosmic combat against the forces of evil, a.k.a Birthers, Teabaggers and other Rightwing Wingnuts of the G.O.P. But I digress.

Adding suspense is whether the fabled relic of St. Michael will once again make an appearance as in days of old when a new guy was asked to bear it in solemn procession. According to Br. Kevin Dargan, who single-handedly restored this feast's solemnity to its former glory and successfully fended off a funeral and electric maintenance to keep the celebration on track, three curmudgeons vehemently objected to bringing back the relic last year. If I can get him to name names, they will appear in a future update.

Monday, September 28, 2009

When worlds avert collision

So, first the funeral for Fr. McKiernan was moved up one day to allow for the special celebration of the feast of St. Michael, patron of the Maryknoll Brothers, tomorrow at a 4:15 Mass and happy hour.

Then Physical Plant had to reschedule a contracted electrical shutdown from tomorrow to today at 5 p.m. lest half our membership get stranded in the Third Floor rec room or stumble along darkened stairwells following Michaelmas.

Now it remains to be seen how many members, especially Brothers, will show up.

This once again underscores the chronic need for a campus-wide online calendar that everyone can access to post activities and check out availability and avoid scheduling conflicts. Department heads have such a calendar, but us simple peons need this too. This whole brouhaha with the Brothers' feast day, the funeral and the scheduled electrical shutdown could have been prevented.

Also coming up this week: Fr. Miguel D'Escoto will speak to the community at a special gathering on Wednesday at 4:00 p.m. in the Founders Room about his last year serving as the president of the U.N. General Assembly.

Funeral for Fr. McKiernan

Fr. Ray Nobiletti, as main celebrant and former regional of Hongkong, gave a fine homily tribute to the mission life of Fr. Mike McKiernan, who took his perpetual oath to Maryknoll in 1940.

Personally, I felt Ray's pastoral experience at Transfiguration in Chinatown was evident throughout the liturgy, with the ease and grace with which he presided as well as his following the rubric that the homily should be a reflection on the Gospel reading—in this case the Beatitudes—and not, as is too often done, simply a eulogy or list of anecdotes.

Ray did manage to make it personal, however, recalling how Mike would often regale younger missioners with his adventures and exploits, inevitably evoking a "Wow!" response from listeners. Among the highlights were Fr. McKiernan being imprisoned for several months at Stanley prison following the outbreak of World War II and then having to flee the Chinese mainland again, first from the Japanese army and then from the Chinese Communists.

Yet all these were in the context of "Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness...."

The committal ceremony was held in the Spellman Room and, after it was
over, Kaserow and Lukaschek agreed that at future ceremonies, placing the coffin before the statue of OLOM would be more pastorally significant.

Voting results

Seventy three eligible voters returned 63 valid ballots, including two abstentions. Fr. Mike Duggan received 21 votes; Fr. Bob Jalbert received 15; Fr. John Moran 13 and Fr. Steve Booth 12.

A third and final ballot will go out with the two top vote-getters: Mike and Bob. From these the regional membership is asked to submit their votes by Oct. 23.

Scrutators were Fr. Wayman Deasy and Br. Don Miriani.

Interesting development: the current term of the regional superior expires October 1. Who will be the regional in the interim? Mike Duggan is First Assistant, but he too ends that position on Oct. 1. Will a member of the general council be appointed? Or will we coast for four weeks and hope for the best?

Also, a canon lawyer has advised that Br. Wayne could be appointed First Assistant once we settle the regional superior position, by virtue of the vote he already received. This would certainly speed up this tortuous balloting and we could then proceed immediately to electing the Second and Third Assistants.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Voting results for U.S. regional

THE (unofficial) RESULTS of the Second (Third?) Round of voting for U.S. Regional yielded no clear winner, so yet another ballot will go out with the two top vote-getters' names. The official results are embargoed until Clyde can inform Doc who is in Rome. Check back later.

Quad squad (+ no voting results yet)

AS THE DAYS get cooler and the daylight shorter, our Eat Outdoors Or Gag crowd dwindles. Yet we could not help noticing something afoot in the quadrangle. Six wooden stakes with yellow tape have sprouted up on either side of the OLOM kiosk. What gives?

No, it is not the layout for a bocce ball court in summer and curling lanes for winter as some have suggested. Rather, at the behest of the Ossining Fire Department, we are about to install special grating beneath the lawn so that firetrucks can have access to the southside of the building should (God forbid) the need arise.

Why now? Last year you may recall there was a real fire at the Knoll when a resident left a pot of water unattended on a burner in the fourth floor rec room. It was rather alarming to see smoke seeping out of the eaves of the library wing with several firetrucks answering the call. Luckily damage was confined to a scorched wall but the smoky smell lingered for weeks. T'was then the fire marshals noticed they could not approach the quadrangle (south) side of the building without getting mired in mud if, like this year, we have a particularly rainy summer. Ergo, the grates.

The lawn and topsoil will be removed, the grating laid down which will allow water to drain, and then the lawn replaced so that, God willing, you will never know its under there. The quadrangle will return to its serene glory, the main building will enjoy an extra element of safety and the die-hard outdoor eaters will nosh al fresco till the snow falls.

(Note, as of 10:30 a.m. EDT, no results from the voting for U.S. regional superior have been announced. Deadline was yesterday. Votes counted this morning, but Fr. Clyde first has to phone the results to our Super G who is in Rome with the General Council for their quarterly meeting. I guess being in Rome when we announce our choice for regional makes it easier to....nope...I ain't gonna say it.)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Here's to our health!

My annual physical exam offers a great opportunity to sing the praises of our health care here at Maryknoll, arguably the best in the world. We now enjoy round-the-clock nursing coverage even on nights and weekends.

We are readily admitted to what by now should be called the Maryknoll Wing at Phelps hospital in Tarrytown. We get shuttled to and from various medical appointments in a timely manner by Mr. Sean Gould. Everything from routine colonoscopies to by-pass surgery (both of which I have had) are available to us.

Also, since you last visited the Knoll or Health Services, you may not be aware of some changes that have been made. If, like me, you need a regular PTINR (Coumadin level) check, you'll be happy to know we now have a special machine that requires only a single drop of blood with results available in less than one minute. This is much preferred to the regular drilling-for-oil puncturing by the phlebotomist who comes on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Medicines are now strictly dispensed and recorded, with recipients having to sign for each prescription drug received. Even a request for some Jointflex ointment or a band aid is met with an insistence to take our B.P. and temperature.

In anticipation of an inevitable outbreak of H1N1 (swine) or seasonal flu, dispensers of Purrel hand disinfectant have been installed throughout the building: at main entrances, in the dining room, outside the chapel, and on the walls in several locations on each floor. (I gotta invest in the company that markets this stuff!) Flu shots will be available next month.

Should a center resident require an ambulance ride to a hospital, our volunteer Emergency Assistance Team (with the unfortunate anagram E.A.T. I much prefer Medical Emergency Team or M.E.T.) of Fathers & Brothers is on-call to accompany him. Last February, I had just finished my shift on the E.A.T. (ugh!) when, lo and behold, I had to be rushed to Phelps with abdominal bleeding. Br. Tom Hickey accompanied me and went back and forth to the Knoll to get my things while I worked my way through Emergency Room protocols. He stayed with me until my condition stabilized. (Thanks again, Tom!)

That being said, there are some procedures Maryknoll won't spring for. These include hair transplants, nose jobs and face lifts, although truth be told, I haven't asked. I could certainly use two out of three. (Shut up!) Now, gender reassignment surgery...never mind...self-censoring is a good thing sometimes. (Hey, can I help it if my stream of consciousness backs up from time to time?)

But cochlear implants, hip and knee replacements, hearing aids and transitional lenses are ours when the need arises. We have excellent health care and this is just as well, because we come back from the missions with some pretty exotic diseases and ailments. Never mind malaria, try bilharzia, amoebas and other assorted parasites. Although I think our doctors here welcome the opportunity to treat us. We are living Merck Manuals.

And so, while our nation screams and yells over health care reform, let us give thanks that Maryknoll provides us with the best care anyone could want or hope for.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

When worlds collide, Part 2

Just when you thought it was safe to celebrate the feast of St. Michael, patron of the Maryknoll Brothers, next Tuesday with a Mass at 4:15 followed by a special happy hour in the 3rd Floor Rec Room and meal in the dining room BAM! Physical Plant announces via email today that once again all elevators will be shut off—you guessed it—from 5:00 p.m. to 5:25 to ensure no one gets stuck when all electricity is turned off from 5:15 to 5:20.

The Mass would just be letting out when, normally, guys would be migrating to the 3rd Floor for preperandials just as the elevators will go off line. How many of the guys do you think will (or can) climb two flights of stairs—in the dark?

I left a message on Br. Kevin's voicemail, who was out of his room, so there's no immediate reaction from him yet, but I don't foresee anything pleasant. I spoke with Pastoral Coordinator, Fr. Ernie Lukaschek, who had not been consulted by Physical Plant prior to their decision but since all have gone for the day, there's nothing to be done till tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Korean Chu Sok feast 추석 (Updated)

THE "HARVEST MOON FESTIVAL" falls on October 3 this year (Or the 15th day of the 8th lunar month). It is a time to celebrate more than traditional foods, but also hometown, family and especially one's ancestors. It's a time to reconnect with one's roots.

On Thursday September 24th from noon to 2 p.m. in the Maryknoll dining room, the Wellness Committee organized a preemptive Chusok celebration at Maryknoll, complete with authentic Korean foods (Even the kimchi was a hit—we ran out!), music, singing, decorations and with many of the veterans of Maryknoll in Korea wearing their "Han Bok" or traditional Korean costume.

Traditional Korean folk music greeted the Maryknollers as they entered and got their lunch of marinated beef, chicken, clear spinach soup, bean sprouts, cucumber, scallion pancakes, roasted barley tea and the staple of all Korean meals, kimchi—a spicy, pickled cabbage that has been known to reduce even tough guys to tears. Yours Truly acted as M.C. through a 20-minute program of Korean songs by the Maryknoll Sisters, a solo by Fr. Marty Lowery, a song by the Fathers, a joint choir singing the Korean version of Nearer My God to Thee in four-part harmony, an impromptu song about reunification by Fr. John Tynan and a kiddies' song "churchified" by Fr. Jm Gilligan. We then invited the people to join in singing the refrain of "Sarang Hae" (Repeating "Yea" 45 times!) as well as the ever-popular folk song "Arirang."

These were interspersed with inane banter as well as a crash course in a few select Korean expressions. Throughout the event there were drawings for some wonderful door prizes such as gift cards for Starbucks, Tagert and Barnes & Noble.

Strings of Korean and American flags as well as blue, white, red and yellow crepe paper streamers will festoon the pillars as is the shamanistic custom with some Korean artifacts strewn about.

The Church in Korea and our work there can proudly be hailed as truly a success story, although, truth be told, Maryknoll simply caught the wave of evangelization at the right time that was sweeping across the country. The Korean Foreign Mission Society with missions in Taiwan, Hongkong, China, Papua and Peru is just one example of how the Church there has come of age.

Another interesting cultural note: the New York Times reported last week how the Korean alphabet (한글) is being exported around the globe to help native peoples who lack their own written language. It is 99% phonetic but does lack sounds for "F" "Z" "V" and "Th". Conversely it has a few hard gutteral sounds that may come in handy with some of those indigenous languages.

Many thanks to Claudia Kublenz-Sulkov (OSP), Br. Wayne Fitzpatrick, Fr. Mike Duggan and Fr. John Moran for putting this all together. People lingered and chatted long after the party ended, so that is the best sign of success.

When worlds collide

NEXT TUESDAY is the great and glorious feast of St. Michael, St. Gabriel and St. Raphael. Archangels all. St. Michael being the patron of the Maryknoll Brothers, for the past three years Br. Kevin Dargan has gone to considerable troubles and expense to make this a truly festive occasion for Society members here, with a special Mass at 4:15 followed by hors d'ouevres at the Hour of Happiness and a nice meal.
Then Father McKiernan upped and died. R.I.P. Apparently those responsible for posting the monthly schedule failed to make note of the feast day and Kevin failed to notice the failure and Father Dave Sullivan over at St. T's, in communicating with the family, failed to include Fr. Lukaschek in the discussion until Monday was chosen for the wake and Tuesday for the funeral. We're lucky to get guys to attend one Mass; forget two in the same day.

Kevin was not pleased. You do not want to see Kevin when he is not pleased. Ernie was not pleased that Kevin was not pleased. So the whole thing unraveled. Ernie called Dave and Dave called the family, so now we have Fr. McKiernan's wake rescheduled for Sunday evening at 7:30 (the family has already been warned that there are fewer Maryknollers here on the weekend) with the funeral on Monday at 11 a.m.

That opens up Tuesday nicely for the Brothers' feast day festivities. (Although I heard from more than one source that not many Brothers attended last year, so we shall have to wait and see if all this ágita was worth it and a great and glorious fun time is had by all.)

Here ya go, Charlie!

Father Joe LaMar celebrates Mass today as Mr. Andy Fitzgerald reads. And, as another Sign of the End Times, the statue of Our Lady of Maryknoll FINALLY got moved to its proper position in front of the curtain in the Spellman Room.

Initial plans call for a simple (yet tasteful) dedication service following Mass on Wednesday, Oct. 7, Feast of the Holy Rosary.

IMHO, when you stand in the "Magic Circle" in the Rotunda "Pax Intratibus, Salus Exeuntibus" and look toward the Spellman Room, the statue draws you nearer and invites you to pray.

Welcome to New Lay Missioners and Sisters!

AT A WELCOMING Reception in the 3rd Floor Rec Room! at 5 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon we welcome the following lay missioners and new Sister candidates:

LINDSAY DOUCETTE (29) —CAMBODIA Lindsay hails from Indianapolis, IN. She graduated from Butler University with a BA in International Studies and Spanish, and studied one semester in Lima, Peru, at the Universidad Peruana de Ciencias Aplicadas. She obtained her Masters of Public Affairs with a concentration in Non-profit Management from Indiana University. She served as Program Director at Indiana Campus Compact, providing resources, technical assistance, training opportunities, conferences and grant funding to faculty, staff and students of Indiana colleges and universities.

Before that, Lindsay was an Americorps volunteer acting as Service-Learning Coordinator for an Indianapolis community through the Corporation for National and Community Service. She has also volunteered as a Spanish language interpreter at a free health clinic, a fair trade educator with Ten Thousand Villages, and as a Big Sister with Big Brothers/Big Sisters.

JOHN KORB (54) & CYNTHIA KORB (53)—East Timor The Korbs are from Tonganoxie, KS. They have two daughters ages 26 and 29. John graduated from Emporia State, Kansas with a BSE in Elementary Education and a Master’s Degree in Educational Administration. Cindy earned her degrees at Emporia State University, a BSE in Elementary Education and a Master of Education specializing in Learning Disabilities.

John has been a teacher of a variety of ages and an athletic coach for various school teams. Additionally, John served as an elementary school principal for six years. John’s teaching specialty is math and geometry. Cindy recently achieved her ESL education certification. She worked for many years as a kindergarten, first grade and fifth grade teacher, specializing in helping children with learning difficulties, including special education.

John and Cindy worked during the summers of 2005 and 2007 in Kenya as volunteer teachers working with Homeless Children International. John has served in a community thrift shop, coach of soccer, basketball and softball, project leader and 4-H teacher, fundraiser for extra-curricular activities and was active in his local PTA.

STEPHEN LIGHT (62)—KENYA Stephen is from St. Paul, MN and has a BA in Philosophy and Political Theory from Thiel College, an M.S. in Park and Wildland Management from Penn State University and a Ph.D. in Natural Resources from The University of Michigan. He is a Master Degree Candidate in Catholic Spirituality from the College of St. Catherine.

Steve’s specialty is natural resources management. He served for 12 years as the Policy Director of the South Florida Water Management District; Senior Policy Advisor for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources; Director of the Environment and Agriculture program of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy; Founder and Co-Director of the Collaborative Adaptive Management Network. Currently, he operates his own consulting firm, working on behalf of governmental entities and NGO’s. Steve has been involved with his parish as a council member, Eucharistic minister, men’s group participant and the Dorothy Day Center for the indigent.

RENA MENDEZ (23)—EL SALVADOR Rena was born in Staten Island, NY but grew up in Topsham, Maine. She received a BA degree with three majors – Political Science, Hispanic Studies & International Studies – in the spring of 2009.

Rena completed two semesters of undergraduate studies at the Universidad de Puerto Rico. She worked as a classroom assistant for one month with children residing in a garbage dump of Guatemala City; served as a volunteer for a semester at a legal aid project working with domestic violence victims in Portland; worked at a Portland soup kitchen and a homeless shelter; and volunteered for one summer with children with Down Syndrome.

PHUONG MINH NGUYEN (44)—EAST TIMOR Born in Vietnam, Minh immigrated to the U.S.A. and now calls Baltimore home. Minh became a licensed cosmetologist. She attended community colleges in Maryland, studying graphic design and fine art. She discontinued those studies to concentrate on diocesan programs that permitted her to obtain—after completing a four-year program—the certificates necessary to teach CCD and to deepen her Catholic faith.

Minh first began to get involved in parish activities by directing a youth group for refugees. She served as the principal catechist and English tutor at her local parish for 15 years. For the last three years she has served as a youth minister at another parish. Minh has participated in two medical mission trips to the Philippines, one medical mission trip to Jamaica, and one medical mission trip to Vietnam. She has also worked at a local food bank and at a soup kitchen.

MARY OLDHAMMARY (34) KENYA—Hailing from Woodland Hills, CA, Mary received a BS degree with honors in chemical engineering from Iowa State University. After ten years as a chemical engineer, Mary joined the Catholic Relief Services volunteer program.

She recently completed her two–year commitment as a CRS volunteer and spent her first year of service in Fort Portal, Uganda, providing support for a CRS microfinance project. This past year Mary worked out of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles Office of Justice & Peace. Previously, Mary used her chemical engineering skills for the medical division of 3M. Mary has also served with the LA Catholic Worker, LA Junior Achievement, LA Fair Trade Steering Committee and as a faith-sharing group facilitator at her parish.

ERICA OLSONERICA (24)—EL SALVADOR Erica comes from Louisville, KY Erica and graduated summa cum laude with a BA in International Studies and a minor in Faith, Peace and Justice from Boston College. She worked as the Assistant Director of Cross Roads Ministry in Louisville, planning and facilitating retreats based on Catholic Social Teaching for high school and college-aged students. Additionally, she writes grants, plans and conducts fundraising activities and writes the organizational newsletter. Erica is also a member of the core community of the Casa Latina Catholic Worker House in Louisville.

In 2007 Erica completed a year of volunteer service with the Response-Ability program teaching Haitian immigrants residing in the Dominican Republic. As part of her orientation for this program, Erica attended the Maryknoll International Service Orientation program conducted by MSD at Bethany. Other service works include assisting refugees with after school and computer programs with Kentucky Refugee Ministries; assisting with a cultural survival program working on behalf of Guatemalan people; and serving as a camp counselor for the Northeast YMCA of Louisville.

NANCY TYROLT (50)—EL SALVADOR Nan comes from Stamford, CT, and graduated with a B.A. in speech & communication from Eastern Illinois University. She has worked in the radio broadcast industry in many capacities as an on-air traffic reporter, radio personality, creative director, on air news reporter, broadcast copy chief and producer. For four years Nan was the full time, youth minister for three collaborating parishes in semi-rural Michigan.

Subsequently she co-founded a junior high youth ministry program in a large Hispanic/Haitian parish located in Miami. She has also worked as bookkeeper/ office assistant. She most recently worked in a temporary position as a radio program producer.

SR. ANASTASIA BIRGITTA LINDAWATI, MM (38)—CHINA OR PHILIPPINES Sister was born in Mojokerto, Indonesia and raised in East Java, Indonesia. She graduated from Bogor Agricultural University, Indonesia with a BA in AnimalHusbandry in 1993. She obtained her Masters of Management with a concentration in Financial Management from Narotama University, Indonesia in 2006. She most recently finished her study at Continuing Education Program of Catholic Theological Union Chicago as part of her orientation as a candidate of the Maryknoll Sisters.

Sr. Anastasia ministered as a helpline at Aid for Women Chicago, and also as a volunteer at University of Chicago Hospital, Chinese American Service League and Bonaventure House. She also involved in Charismatic Prayer Group at St. Thomas of the Apostle Church Chicago.

SR. GENIE CASTILLO NATIVIDAD, MM (34)—NAMIBIA OR TANZANIA Sister comes from Diadi, Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines. She had two years college at La Consolacion College in Manila and had some courses at the Institute of Religious Formation in Quezon City Philippines. As part of her orientation process to Maryknoll, Genie took continuing education program for 4 semesters at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, IL.

While working in Malaysia, Genie met the Missionary Community of St. Paul the Apostle, a Spanish community doing missionary work in Africa. She entered the Augustinian Sisters of Our Lady of Consolation in the Philippines and was with them for 4 1⁄2 years. Genie left the Augustinians and joined the community she met in Malaysia and became a lay missioner in Turkana, in northeast of Kenya for 6 months.

Returning home, Genie joined the Maryknoll Sisters in 2007. During her first year in Orientation, Genie did ministry with the mentally ill people in Chicago. In her second year, Genie did prison ministry with the young men and women at the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center in Chicago. Genie just made her First Vows on Aug.9, 2009.

SR. LAURA AVECILLA GULEDEW, MM—CHINA OR PANAMA Laura hails from Ifugao, Philippines and studied at Adamson University, Manila, receiving a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. Right after graduation, she joined a Pharmaceutical Company as a Medical Representative. Her job brought her to different places of the Cordilleras Region in the Philippines knowing their cultures and ways of life, meeting people in all walks of life. Then in 1997, she went to the University of the Cordilleras in Baguio City as a Guidance Counselor.

While she was working at the University, she was very much involved with the Student Catholic Action and latter became the adviser of this organization. This involvement became a starting point or reconsidering again her dream of becoming a Sister. And in 2007, she joined the Maryknoll Sisters Congregation.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Lunch at the C.I.A.

Assisted Living once again organized a trip up to Hyde Park to take advantage of the prix-fix lunch offered at the Culinary Institute of America, about one hour north of the Knoll. Ms. Kathy Brophy drove one van with Brothers Kevin Dargan and Jude Conniff, and Fathers Mike Simone, Jerry Nagle, Jack Keegan and Yours Truly. Ms. Terry Mierswa drove the smaller SUV with Fathers Lawrence Flynn, Bob LaFebre and Dick Smith.

Only four of us got into the French Restaurant, having made our reservations early, as the place filled up fast. The others divided themselves among the Italian and American Restaurant. Things were progressing nicely past the salmon paté appetizer when the fire alarm went off. The maitre'd shepherded the incredulous patrons out the door and into the plaza to make room for the firetrucks which arrived about five minutes later.

Such an interruption can wreck havoc on mussels in wine sauce. We were allowed back in about 25 minutes later and I played the part of the outraged customer, taking high umbrage at this unseemly break in protocol and politely suggesting a complimentary dessert would go along way in convincing me to take down the pictures of the firetrucks which I had posted on Facebook.

It worked. We were treated to a complimentary serving of Strawberries Romanoff which is prepared at the table; butter melted over a gas burner with course sugar and then mixed with fresh strawberries before adding Cognac which then flames up. Ironic, no? This confection was then served with shortcake over a HUGE scoop of sour cream/ice cream. It was delicious and the wait staff, graduating this Friday, learned how to placate picky customers.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Who moved my ambo?

If you haven't visited Mother Knoll in the last six months, you missed the rearrangement of the deck mean the seats, altar and lecturn in Our Lady Chapel. Not only was furniture moved around, but the daily Mass hour was moved from 7:00 a.m. (since neither God nor I are fully awake at that hour) to a more user-friendly 11:30. After some initial grumblings, attendance went up and stabilized at around 35, so the men seem to have adjusted well; less so but still accepting towards the rather unorthodox yet, upon reflection, more prayerful arrangement of the furniture.

The altar is in the center, as befits the focal point of worship, with the people sitting around three sides in a "U" formation. Just inside the entrance in the middle of the center aisle, the presider's chair faces the altar. On the opposite side of the altar, the lecturn, flanked by the candles on floor stands, faces the people from in front of the Pietá.

This arrangement combines intimacy and transcendence, with prominence given to the Word yet with all eyes on the altar...and beyond.

Still can't shake echoes of new wine into old winekins. If we could only rejuvenate the presiders and people...

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Feast of Korean Martyrs

Sunday is the great and glorious feast of St. Andrew Kim Dae Geon, St. Paul Cheong Ha-Sang and the Korean Martyrs. Now, while Maryknoll and the rest of the non-Korean Catholic world might think the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time is all that, we true believers know better. This feast day trumps all others and I for one will be wearing red at Mass or run the risk of the people seeing red.

Korean Catholics, along with recent immigrants from Vietnam and Haiti, not to mention Latin America, may yet save American Catholicism from itself. They seem to balance an interesting blend of moral and liturgical conservatism with liberal and progressive social conscience and action.

Two years ago the bishops of Korea donated to Maryknoll a beautiful granite replica of Pyongyang's (in North Korea) Great East Gate to commemorate the 80th anniversary of Maryknoll's mission work in the north. The gate, located west of the Walsh Building, is inscribed with words of gratitude to Maryknoll as well as with the names of all the Maryknoll Fathers, Brothers and Sisters who worked in the north. Three of those Maryknoll Sisters are still living.

On our side of the road, Father Son Kyeong-Su (Peru) had been the only Korean Maryknoller for years until he was joined by Father Alfonso Kim (China). He came from the same parish in Flushing, Queens as our seminarian now on OTP in Bolivia, Dae Wook Kim. When Alfonso was on the vocations team he worked extensively in Los Angeles with the Korean Bible Life movement, from which we have already gleaned two seminarians: Philip Yang (2nd Year) and Daniel Kim (1st Year). There might be another Korean American entering from that group next year.

I don't know if Korean American Catholics will save the Church, but I will be more than happy if they save Maryknoll.

Saints Andrew Kim and Paul Cheong, pray for us!

Congratulations, Mike!

Fr. Mike Duggan celebrates 50 years of Mission Priesthood in Maryknoll with a Mass and outdoor luncheon for about 150 family and friends. Guests have flown in from as far away as London and driven in from Phoenix for the occasion.

It is like an impromptu reunion of "Old-Korea" hands with former lay missioners Bonnie Brunner, Rita Reickert, Jim Pronbst and Barb Pavelka attending, along with former Maryknollers Dick Hitchcock and Jose Padin. Most of the Maryknoll Sisters who worked in Korea and are now at the Sisters Center also attended along with Maryknoll Fathers & Brothers in residence. Father Jack Corcoran, here on furlough from Nepal, joined in the festivities. Sr. Jean Maloney was here and will be back in Korea on Thursday the 24th.

Ms. Lucille Naughton even came out of retirement to conduct the schola of Fathers Marty Lowery, Kevin Hanlon and Joe Veneroso, Maryknoll Sisters Alice Cardillo, Rose Guercio, Nori Mojado, Elizabeth Terblock and Dolores Condon, former MLM Barbara Pavelka (who also played flute!), Mr. Jon Prudhomme (Bonnie's husband) and Mr. Jack Naughton (Lucille's husband) with Father Ed Szendrey serving as cantor.

After the meal, Hopi made an appearance, much to the delight of the children and relief of the parents. Between throwing and chasing tennis balls and frisbees, and with all the running around, Hopi and the kids will all sleep well tonight.

Once again, Sodexo did a superb job with both food and decor, with maroon tableclothes and vases of fresh flowers at each table.

Following the official festivities, the "Old Korea Hands" lingered in the Quad for an impromptu, three-hour sing-along, comprised of Broadways tunes and folksongs with Jon Prudhomme leading with guitar and voice.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Upcoming Events @ Mother Knoll

Friday, September 18 International Film Festival Maryknoll presents the next film in the on-going series: Life through Death: Change, Suffering and Living into More Abundant Life.

Tonight's show: Eat Drink Man Woman.

7:30 p.m. in the Asia Room

Open to the public, free of charge.

Introduction by a Maryknoller (Usually Fr. Larry Lewis) and discussion to follow.

Saturday, September 19th Celebration marking Fr. Mike Duggan's 50 Anniversary of Ordination Special Mass at 11 a.m. in Queen of Apostles chapel followed by an outdoor luncheon in the Quadrangle. By invitation only.

Sunday, September 20th No special events (other than 9 a.m. Sunday Mass) at the Knoll, but it marks the last day of the San Gennero festival in Little Italy. That's a good time to go, because vendors give last-minute discounts to move there merchandise. So if you can tell a calzone from a cannoli, get your butt down to Mulberry Street. Of course, if the blood of San Gennero failed to liquify Saturday (his feast) than all Napolitani are expected to drink the Kool Aid like proper paesani.

Tuesday, September 22 A special trip to the C.I.A. (Calm down, it's the Culinary Institute of America) for fixed-price lunch for those who pre-registered (in the dining room). The French restaurant is already full, so guys registering late choose between the Italian and American restaurants. Departing from the back parking lot at 10:30 a.m. and returning by 2:30 p.m.

Thursday, September 24 A preemptive Chusok (Korean Harvest) Festival from noon to 2 p.m., featuring authentic Korean foods (Yes, of course there will be kimchi—and pulgogi!), music, singing and decorations. Many of the veteran Korean Maryknollers (Fathers & Sisters) will be dressed up in their traditional Korean costume 한복 (pronounced "Han Bok"). Raffles throughout the event will help keep people from running away early, despite the kimchi. You must be present to win!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Pet Peeves

BESIDES HOPI, I have several pet peeves which I nurture on a regular basis.

#1. Guys who put chairs up at a table in the dining room, either to save a place for someone or to signal they don't wish to be disturbed. Well, excuse me. First, it's a safety hazard. Second, it looks terrible. If you want to save a seat, put something there, like a sugar packet like the Sisters do. Or some utensils. Or a dead cat. (That should do the trick.) If you want to talk undisturbed, go to the far end of the dining room. Chairs tilted up to signal a private conversation shouts "Do Not Disturb!" and "We are more important than you and could easily have had this conversation elsewhere, but then how would you know we are more important than you?" It smacks of elitism and snobbery. Very UnMaryknoll. (...Or is it???)

#2. Guys who sit at the table next to the door in the dining room and then complain that it's too cold or drafty when someone goes in or out. Um... move? Better still, sit at a table far from the door to begin with. Much cheaper than having the carpenter and stone masons install a new door farther away.

#3. Guys who stand right in front of the elevator waiting to get on, thereby making it difficult for people on the elevator to get off. Move your carcass to one side, already. Go to Manhattan and practice getting on and off subways.

#4. Priests who think they are concelebrating but won't bother putting on an alb and stole. At the consecration, all these hands mysteriously rise up from all around the congregation. What is that? A backdoor fulfillment of an obligation to say Mass without actually saying Mass? Seems to me if you're only going to say the words of consecration, someone deserves a refund. Or at least a discount.

#5. Sending ceremonies where celebrants invite all present in the congregation to extend their hands in blessing. Tell them to bend their elbows a little! Photos of all those extended, straight arms make this look like a meeting of the Aryan Nation.

#6. God-awful electronic bells in our tower that mercifully no longer screech and scratch out the 6 p.m. Angelus, but still desecrate a Maryknoller's funeral by sounding like something out of Frankenstein's laboratory. OK, maybe it will cost $18,000 to fix the real bells, but that might be a great 99th birthday present for Mother Knoll. How's about we start a fund-raising drive? How's about we all take one less unnecessary trip (Yeah, I know, they're all important) or 36 members donating one month's P.A.?

#7. A man sitting all by himself in each of four different rec rooms, each controlling the remote and each watching the SAME STATION! And you wonder why so many guys have private TVs in their rooms? They all want to talk about the game at meals, just not watch it together. There is some logic to that. "Did you see the game last night?" "Yes, you damn fool. I was sitting next to you."

#8. Guys who use the kitchenettes and leave dirty cups and dishes in the sink. Where do they think they are? On the missions?

#9. Cluttering up the rotunda with sometimes as many as four sign boards (like today!), a pamphlet and magazine rack and now, get this, a stand with a guest book blocking the entrance with a sign requiring all visitors to sign in. Next to this is a three-foot tall automatic Purell dispensor. Nothing says "Welcome" more than a mandatory sign-in and disinfectant. Enjoy your visit. Don't touch anything.

#10 Lists of stupid pet peeves. Somebody has way too much time on his hands. The weekend is coming in the nick of time.