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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A festivus miracle!

The return of the purificators was as sudden and mysterious as their disappearance.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Bethlehem or bust

[Blogger's note: I usually post my homilies at my other site http://www.Baeisms.blogspot.com but, since Fr. Joe Fedora was the inspiration for this, I thought I'd post it in both places. Enjoy.]

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Joseph and Mary had such wonderful dreams and plans for the future. Following Jewish custom, they would be engaged for one year before living together as husband and wife. Then one day their dreams came crashing down because of two terrible facts: Mary was pregnant and it's wasn't Joseph's baby.

Joseph was filled with so many conflicting emotions and thoughts. Doubt, anger, hurt, resentment, confusion, betrayal, sadness and fear. Fear of what his family and friends would say when they found out. Fear of being thought a fool. Fear of being judged by religious leaders. Fear he had trusted and loved the wrong woman. But most of all, fear of what would happen to Mary when people found out. The Law of the Lord was clear. Such women must be stoned to death.

How many sleepless night did Joseph spend, tossing and turning, tortured by these thoughts and awful possibilities? Then he made up his mind to divorce her secretly so as not to expose her to the Law.

It was at this point that the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child within her is conceived by the Holy Spirit."

Joseph rose from his sleep and took Mary as his wife and the rest, as they say, is history.

As we prepare to celebrate Christ's birth, consider there are people in our church today whose dreams have been shattered and whose future is in doubt. Some of you may be angry, hurt, resentful, confused, sad and filled with fear. The gospel message for you today is the same as to Joseph and the same as to Mary, "Do not be afraid." You are exactly where God wants you to be and no matter what happens, God will be with you.

Do not be afraid of losing your job. Do not be afraid of losing your health. Do not be afraid of losing your life. God will be with you. This is the message of Christmas. This is the hope born in a manger in Bethlehem.

I have never been to Bethlehem, but I hope to go there someday. My friend and colleague, Father Joe Fedora, lives and works in Peru, in South America. He sent me a Christmas message two weeks with the good news. He said:

"Guess what? I´m going to Bethlehem and I´m planning on spending lots of time there! I’m traveling light; I can’t afford to be weighed down by things I won’t need. One carry-on should do it. Getting there shouldn’t be a problem; I’ve been there before and, besides, I’ve lots of angels and stars showing me the way. Once I arrive, I’m going to take off my shoes and maybe even kiss the ground. And then I´m off to the manger – the AIDS ward and soup kitchen and prison – to hang out with Jesus. I’m going to Bethlehem and don’t even have to leave Lima.
“When I was sick…
When I was hungry…
When I was in prison…”
(Mt.25:30-40)
Where will you be spending the Holidays?
May the angels and stars in your life show you the way to Bethlehem.
Merry Christmas!
Love, Joe

So as we prepare to celebrate Christmas and hope that all the parties and presents will take away whatever pain we may be feeling, remember Bethlehem is only a car, a bus or a subway ride away. A homeless shelter, an old folks home, a hospital. All these are the stable of Bethlehem because in all these Christ may be found.

And when you find Christ, or rather, once Christ finds you, you'll no longer be weighed down by fear. Do not be afraid to take Joseph, and Mary and Jesus into your hearts and into your homes. Do not be afraid. God is with you.

Memorial Service for Fr. Tom Goekler, M.M.

A memorial service for Fr. Tom Goekler was held today in our main chapel. Many guests, relatives and friends, began arriving last night. Former Maryknoll priest associate Father Jack Martin, from Newark, was presider and Fr. Bill Donnelly, who had worked with Tom in Central America, was homilist.

Remembrances at the end of Mass were given by Tom's oldest sister and a lay couple from Amistad Catholic Worker House in Hartford, Conn., which Tom helped found.

(Thanks to Fr. Ed Szendrey for supplying these details.)

On December 10, Archbishop Henry Mancell of Hartford celebrated a memorial Mass there, inviting Maryknollers in the area to concelebrate.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

More Christmas Party pix

Clarified clarifications

More details are coming in from the house meeting which, if you haven't figured out, I did not attend having procured tickets for one of the last remaing performances of West Side Story.

* Having heard reports of our previous meeting, Father General said he came protected by two Council Members. (like Brutus escorting Caesar to the Senate?)

* It may take $5M+ to make Bethany inhabitable and bring it up to code. (Blogger's note: I don't know where the rumor got started that we paid the lay missioners $1 for Bethany. It may be a recycling of the historical incident where we paid the Sisters $1 for our property back in the day.)

* The cause for canonization of Bishop Walsh was separated from that of Fr. Price ostensibly to make it easier. The diocese of Raleigh would do the legwork for their homeboy. (Wouldn't that double the cost?)

* Fr. Dougherty reminded the men that harassment charges encompass more than sexual misconduct. If our words or behavior repeatedly make an employee feel he or she is working in a hostile environment, that can justify a harassment allegation. (Gee, too bad Maryknollers can't bring charges against fellow Missioners.)

* Fr. Dougherty also made a cryptic comment about the weather in Navarre, France (where the heart of Fr. Price is entombed at the foot of St.Bernadette) being "as cold as the reception." No word whether the General Council will bring harassment charges against the Sisters of Charity.

* On a positive note, Doc welcomed Fr. Jim Madden to the vocation team and said the transition from Fr. Dennis Moorman will take place in March 2011. And, keeping our fingers crossed, there may be a "bumper crop" of new candidates accepted into formation.

Health Services Christmas Party

Fr. Dougherty's topics

At the Town Hall meeting with Society residents yesterday, Doc touched on the following topics:

* His trip to Rome

* The Cause for the canonization of Bishop James A. Walsh will be formally opened on January 24, 2011.Bishop Michael Burbridge of Raleigh, North Carolina will be here at Maryknoll for this and the Opening Liturgy on January 25.

* The Bethany deal has not yet been totally worked out (when the Society reposseses ownership.)

* Society members vacation allowance will be restored.

Father Dave Smith, our CFO, sent in the following clarification about the employees COLA raises:


Hi Joe,
 
Thanks for your recent blogs. I just wanted to alert you to a slight correction that you might want to make in case any of the Society employees read your blog. When the GC announced a 3% COLA raise, they also stipulated a minimum $2000 COLA raise. In other words, the employee will receive either a 3% raise or a $2000 raise, whichever is larger. For many it will be the latter. The point at which 3% becomes larger than $2000 is when someone’s current gross salary is $66,667. Anyone currently receiving less than that amount will receive the $2000 raise.
 
Peace,

Dave

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Spoiler alert!

Among other things, when Fr. Dougherty speaks to the residents at the house meeting tomorrow, he will announce that our vacation allowance will be restored in 2011. See? Turning 100 has its advantages.

Good news of great joy

To the delight of all, Fr. Ed Dougherty announces a 3% COLA raise beginning in January for all employees who were hired before September 2010. The recession is officially over!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Church architecture 101

The prize for correctly identifying the wooden, narthex frontispiece upon which the new Channel 15 camera was permanently mounted goes to Ms. Barbara Osborne of the Council Secretariat. Congratulations, Barbara!

(Second prize goes to the first Society member who can correctly identify the arcane architectural term: "chapel.")

Speaking of rood screen, we may have inadvertently begun a new liturgical tradition here at Mother Knoll last Wednesday on the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, when, in the midst of Fr. Mike Duggan's Eucharistic prayer, one of the two concelebrants was inspired to open the rood screen. He didn't succeed. So he was joined by the other concelebrant but, even after much rattling and pulling, the screen remained stubbornly closed. The spectacle was distracting enough to everyone to cast doubt on the validity of the Mass for all but the main celebrant.

On Tuesday (tomorrow) at 3:00 p.m. we will hold our annual Employees Christmas Prayer Service followed by a Christmas Party. The party will be in the dining room; the prayer service will be held in the main space between the narthex frontispiece and the rood screen.

On Wednesday, December 15, at 3:00 p.m., Fr. Ed Dougherty will hold a Town Hall meeting in the Asia Room with Society members. The topic has not been announced, in keeping with everything else.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Channel 15 Milestone

Last Friday's record-breaking attendance at the Christmas concert wasn't the only first. The entire concert, from beginning to end, was televised live on Channel 15 from a permanent camera mounted next to the clock atop the wooden arches in the back of the chapel. (Special mention in my blog will go to anyone who can tell me what that piece of wordwork separating vestibule from nave is called. Even Google the Great failed me.)

Ms. Kathy Brophy, from her remote position in the VCR/DVD room next to the Africa Room, was able to remotely control camera angles, zoom and focus throughout the concert, which was shown live in our main building as well as at St. Teresa's. The concert was also recorded for replay at later times so I will be able to check if she captured my good side during my 30-second solo! More than one Maryknoller, seeing the overflow crowd, either gave up his seat so a guest could be seated or simply gave up trying to get into the chapel, and returned to watch the concert in the comfort and privacy of their own rooms.

This permanent camera situated in an unobtrusive spot on top the (word for those wooden arches) will serve us well during our planned Centenary Masses next year, as well as future ordinations, sending ceremonies, Jubilees and funerals.

Br. Wayne Fitzpatrick must be credited and thanked for successfully and persistently shepherding this project through many complicated bureaucratic hurdles and budgetary setbacks. His perseverance paid off with our men in St. T's able to enjoy the concert and witness the first of many historic gatherings.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Christmas Concert Blockbuster!

Maryknoll's annual Christmas concert tonight drew a record, overflow crowd of 600+ people. The chapel starting filling fully one hour before the 8:00 "curtain". With Standing Room Only crowds in the back of the chapel, Mario Cerdas and Theresa Rodrigueez, from housekeeping, sprang into action and set up extra chairs in the back, in the center aisle and even in the sanctuary.

The Christmas Concert was the official musical opening of Maryknoll's Centennary celebrations. The return of long-time Maryknoll music director Ms. Lucille Naughton (she directed the choir when I was ordained in 1978) was surely the reason behind this record-breaking crowd. Kudos to Security and Physical Plant that dealt with parking and traffic issues. Br. Tony Lopez also assembled a hospitality crew to hand out programs and carol booklets.

Songs included "Non nobis, Domine" (from the movie Henry V), "Veni, Veni Emmanuel" "Do You Hear What I Hear?" and "Gesu Bambino."
Maryknollers were acknowledged and then all joined in singing the Maryknoll hymn. A children's Choir supplied the "Aw!" factor with "Little Drummer Boy", "Silent Night" and "We Wish You a Merry Christmas". There was time for audience participation with traditional favorites such as "O Come All Ye Faithful" "Joy to the World" and "Angels We Have Heard On High".

Lucille also previewed three songs from the Maryknoll Centenary Missa ad Gentes, by Michael Joncas: "Lord, Have Mercy" ,"Gospel Acclamation" and "Lamb of God". She also invited those present to attend the special rehearsal of the entire Mass, with timpani, trumpet, flute, piano and organ, on Sunday, January 23 at 3:00 p.m. (We might have to set up the Spellman Room and Lady Chapel if the crowd is anything like tonight's!)

One departure from tradition. The choir and assembly sang "Happy Birthday" to Maryknoll to end the concert and adjourned to the Spellman Room for birthday cake, coffee and tea. Santa's helper (Fr. Joe La Mar) passed out candy to children of all ages.

Our Centennary is off to a great start!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Advent busyness

Sorry for my silence, folks. Things get crazy just before Christmas, as I'm sure you understand. Some interesting things are going on, however. This, from Fr. Richard Callahan:

The results of the Maryknoll Farm (a.k.a. the “Pachamama” Farm) for 2010 are in:  33,000 pounds (sixteen and a half TONS) of vegetables and fruit were distributed to six food banks in the area. Over the past nine years since the farm was started, it has produced and distributed 158,000 pounds of food to the food banks. Special thanks to Fathers John and Fern and to their many volunteers for taking seriously Jesus’ command to “feed the hungry” in our midst. ~Richard B. Callahan, M.M.

Following the gas leak (which is not totally repaired) Sodexo made the switch over to propane. Four huge tanks are now outside the kitchen.

Vocation ministers, Admissions, Initial and Lifelong Formation people have concluded a productive three-day meeting here.

Superior General Fr. Ed Dougherty has asked for a "Town Hall" meeting. But here's where the buzz at the salad bar gets tossed. Some say he will meet with only Society Members this Wednesday, others say it will be in January, and still others say that's for Maryknoll Employees as well. The term "Town Hall" evokes nervous laughter from the troops. Perhaps they're thinking about the raucous Town Hall meetings the Tea Partiers held two summers ago. In any event, no matter when it's held, it's sure to make a buzz.

In planning for our opening ceremony on January 25, the intention is to precede the liturgy with a procession of flags of all the (42) places we've worked in our 100 years. Maryknollers would carry in each flag in chronological order and the emcee would announce each flag, i.e. The United States of America, 1911 (accompanied by the papal flag), China, 1918 etc. One diplomatic kerfuffle might arise as the Palestinian flag (1990) enters and is announced as such. Would our expected Jewish guests be offended? Yet we could not in good conscience bring in the Israeli flag. One suggestion is to announce it as "Bethlehem" instead of "Palestine."

While attending a retreat up at Graymoor for our Korean junior high students from Queens, I spoke of our up-coming Centennary with some of the friars. They, in turn, told me of some of their up-coming events next year, including a Mass to be celebrated there by Archbishop Dolan on-----October 30. To those of you unfamiliar with all our planned celebrations, that is the same day His Emminence is scheduled to be the main celebrant at our official Centennary Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral. Now, I've heard from those who know him well and it's quite possible he'll be able to be in both places. Let's just hope he can and we don't go down to St. Pats just to say Mass by ourselves.


 

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Recruiting the Maryknoller of the future

[Bloggers note: the following reflection comes courtesy of Fr. Jack Keegan. While it did not originate "around the salad bar" here at the Knoll, I post it in hopes of inspiring conversations other than our latest medical procedure.]
                
The Lay orientation of the Maryknoll Society Member.

The late Thomas Wilcox, M.M. used to quip as he walked into the dining room at Maryknoll, New York: “Maryknollers are the only ones who dress for manual labor and nobody does it!” Remarks made in jest often have the truth hidden in them. Something as symbolic as clothing may have the truth about our future inhabiting it. It sees Maryknoll Society members having their roots in the laity of the Church. It knows that we are secular priests and lay brothers. We are neither a religious order nor a religious congregation. We do not live the very admirable lifestyle of people being faithful to their vows. We are different. That is our pride, and this difference should not be glossed over. This pride of ours needs to be stressed, even advertised. Except when wearing liturgical vestments for presiding or assisting at the eucharist or other liturgical services, we do not wear a distinctive garb or habit separating us from the people from whom we came and whose mission we desire to facilitate.

The reason is simple. The words concluding Matthew’s Gospel: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you,” were words addressed not simply to us , a specialized Society, or even to Roman Catholics, but to all disciples of Christ, people whom we later and to this day have learned to call ‘Christians.’ We have come together as a Society under oath, not to replace or substitute for Christians being involved in mission under their bishops, but to offer a particular expertise to make fruitful their being ‘sent’ to bear the memory of “Jesus Christ and him crucified” into the whole world. The Vatican II decree, AD GENTES, on the mission activity of the Church offers its own commentary: “The pilgrim Church is missionary by heir very nature, since it is from the mission of the Son and the mission of the Holy Spirit that she draws her origin in accordance with the decree of the Father.”

Beginning to be a Maryknoll Society member in the 21st century.

The prospective Maryknollers can expect to begin this new life in association with other Maryknollers who will be there to help them grow more confidently into their identity as Christians. This formation, growing into more confident Christians, is the purpose undergirding the theological education they will begin pursuing. A faith seeking, not indoctrination, but understanding is a necessity if they are intent on becoming person’s who can enter into worlds not as yet integrated into their life of faith, with the hope of discovering God’s saving presence as it reveals itself. It is not a stretch of the imagination to believe that Maryknollers of the future will have some of the characteristics of the worker-priests of an earlier twentieth century generation. They  look forward toward becoming specialists helping Christians find and affirm God’s saving presence in what are believed to be non-traditional boundaries of the Church, areas of human life thought to be devoid of God’s saving presence. Perhaps they are heralds whose cry announces an incomprehensible mystery coming to grace our lives from the future.

Living an uncertain future.

Twentieth century Maryknoll  Society members were clear as to what their future would entail. The Society’s purpose was evident. Beyond its concern for the well-being and holiness of its members, the Society saw itself intent on establishing local churches in lands beyond the United States, i.e. in the emerging nations of the world. This was its field afar. Maryknollers, in the twentieth century, brought the gospel of “Jesus Christ and him crucified,” into a post-colonial world. But, as decolonization proceeded after World War II, a point was reached in the 1970’s when nearly all the world’s territory was under the jurisdiction of sovereign, independent states. Nation-states were territorially defined units the government of which was supreme in internal affairs and independent with respect to external affairs. Most of the states which now form the political organization of the world were created after World War II. Prior to that time, perhaps 47 nations existed on the globe. Now there are as many as 192 attested to by the United Nations, a number that remains fluid. The nation-state system has been extended to the entire globe from its origins in 1648 at the conclusion of the Thirty Years War in Europe and the Peace of Westphalia. In the 21st century the nation-state system is under great pressure.
    
Maryknoll Society members carried the gospel of “Jesus Christ and him crucified” into this emerging world. This was its field afar, a world beyond the United States, where people were developing their own sense of nationality. In the places to which they went, they founded the local church where none had previously existed. Often opening seminaries, they helped give birth to an indigenous priesthood and national hierarchy. They began parishes and took up pastoral work, awaiting the day when local priests and bishops would be ready to replace them. In Latin America, they helped reinvigorate a Church that needed rehabilitation. Now, in the 21st century, Christianity is no longer the extension of European Christendom, but a WORLD religion, the largest religion on the globe. Today, local churches are ready to seize their own responsibility for evangelization. Maryknoll Society members face an uncertain future, one which sees the nation-state being surpassed, but which offers new possibilities. It also requires a new expertise if it iOs to be in service to a WORLD religion.

Fields afar for the 21st century.

Some members of the Society may continue on as those who went before them. They will be founding Christian communities in geographical areas untouched by local churches. Perhaps they will become specialist in parts of the world dominated by Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc. They will be living in advance of either the existence of a local church or its reach, They will be hoping to revision Christianity from the revelation of the incomprehensible mystery of God they hope they will uncover there.

But other possibilities are also on the horizon. One field afar is the world of the multinational corporation. The multinational corporation is, as Richard Barnett and R. Muller have said, “The most powerful human organization yet devised for colonizing the future.” With the exception of a handful of nation-states, multinationals are alone in possessing the size, technology, and economic reach necessary to influence human affairs on a global basis. It may not be stretching the truth too far to claim that in the future human beings who are not in some way related to a multinational corporation, not its ‘citizens,’ are in danger of becoming the discarded on the globe. The Japanese writer, Terutomo Ozawa observes: “The ultimate modal form of multinationalism if it is allowed to take its own course unhampered by the parochial intervention of nation-states is geocentric, the final stage being one in which the multinational corporation has no country to which it owes more loyalty than any other, nor any country where it feels completely at home.”

Here is a new field afar for the Maryknoll Society member of the future. This is a world into which the memory of “Jesus Christ and him crucified” must enter, and the presence of a saving God facilitated.  It will take creativity, and continuing education for Maryknollers to learn the language of this world. Hopefully, the Society will assist in placing them within it or in some position from which its growth and influence can be directed toward the enhancement of human life.

Another possible field afar for the Maryknoll Society member in the 21st century is the world of international organizations. International organizations- both governmental (IGO’s) and non-governmental (INGO’s) are the new political institutions. IGO’s are international organizations established by an agreement among governments. INGO’s are not so established. The first modern international governmental organization was created in 1815, and the first modern international non-governmental organization dates back to the 17th century. It is, however, only in the second half of the twentieth century that they have become so numerous and so important as to become a prominent feature of the global political system.

The creation, existence and growth of IGO’s and INGO’s clearly demonstrates how unsuitable the nation-state is as a unit for dealing with many contemporary problems. Because of the growth in numbers and the importance of international organizations, the global political system has been in the throes of potentially revolutionary change. States entangled in webs of international organizations is the proper simile to describe the contemporary global political system. The future Maryknoll Society member may choose to enter this world. It is important that those populating these institutions have the memory of “Jesus Christ and him crucified”articulate in their lives.

The placement of people into this world where the future is being created may be a difficult process, both for the prospective Maryknollers and the leadership of a Society bent on facilitating them. It is a tough language to learn and a world over which the Society has no control. But, it may well be a place where the incomprehensible mystery of a God who graces us from the future may be met.

A Clarification

The mission of Christians is broader than the existence of Maryknoll. It is, therefore important for the Society to clarify the public perception of what it wants from Society members, and for what it wants to recruit new members. Without clarification of how it means to serve the continuing mission of Christians to proclaim the gospel, it will have no grasp on the expertise it brings to their being ‘sent’ by Christ. It needs to sharpen its focus. Candidates ought not come to Maryknoll because they are interested in a religious life. There are orders and congregations for that laudable life. Maryknoll candidates cannot be left with hazy ideas about the purpose of their education, nor can they be given vague answers as to why they are needed, and what resources of the Christian tradition they must lean on for their continuing formation. My guess is that spiritual directors may want to mine the history of itinerant preachers for the well springs of their spirituality.

An ecumenical future?

The above headline ends with a question mark. Since it is Christians, not just Roman Catholics, who are sent to preach the gospel of “Jesus Christ and him crucified” to the world, it would be a wonderful thing if some manifestation of this reality could be integrated into the Society in the 21st century. How to do this is the open question???

Finally

When the Maryknoll Society began under James A.Walsh and Thomas Price in the early years of the twentieth century, and for years thereafter, candidates flocked to her because she was perceived to be on the cutting edge of Christianity, and Roman Catholicism in particular. Her loyalty was to the missionary calling of the disciples of Christ. If that meant shaking up her own Roman Catholic institutional requirements at that time, so be it. Maryknoll was perceived to be avant-garde. In the 21st century can it regain  that inheritance as herald of the presence of the God who graces us from the future?

John E. Keegan, M.M.
2010

Friday, December 3, 2010

Looming crisis?

We are in day four of the gas leak. Repairs continue but still no gas allowed into the building. There is some talk that now might be the time to consider going with propane. But that transition would take weeks, if not months. It is safer, but more expensive.

Sodexo staff has done a yeomen's and yeowomen's job to present good meals using electric appliances. But today they have met their match. There will be no pizza for Friday lunch here.

Have you any idea what this means? Remember the ambo brouhaha? Child's play. The last and only time they thought to try something different and moved pizza to Thursday, rioting erupted. You'd have less resistance moving the tabernacle to the Lady Chapel.

So consider this Part 1. Part 2 will be posted after the shouting stops and the smoke clears. (Whatever happened to the "flexible" part of being a missioner?")

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Day of Reflection, AIDS Day and on-going gas leak

Today we had an Advent Day of Recollection.

Monsignor Edward Bradley, Newark archdiocesan minister for retirees, spoke on the Gift Received and Freely Given.

More than 50 men attended the two half-hour talks, plus Mass and reconciliation.

He centered his theme on Matthew 10:8 where Jesus called his twelve disciples and told them, "Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out devils: freely have you received, freely give."

Ed shared a story by a priest, Fr.William Bausch, called "The rabbi's gift." According to this tale, there was once a famous monastery that had fallen on hard times. It was no longer filled with young monks and the local townsfolk no longer came for prayer and edification. Old monks shuffled through empty halls, mumbling prayers (if they bothered to pray at all) and complained about everything and one another. (Blogger's note: this was getting too close for comfort!)

Anyway, in the woods beyond the monastery a rabbi built a simple hut to which he would come from time to time for silent prayer and contemplation. Whenever the rabbi went to his hut, the monks felt sustained by his presence. One day the abbot decided to pay the rabbi a visit. The abbot saw the rabbi waiting for him with arms outstretched in welcome. The two embraced like old friends. Then they stood smiling at one another. The rabbi motioned for the abbot to enter. On the table was a Bible. As the two men of prayer sat at the table, the rabbi began to cry. The abbot also cried his heart out. The two cried till the tears no longer flowed and all was quiet. "You and your brothers serve the Lord with heavy hearts," the rabbi said. "I will give a teaching. I will say it only once. And you must only repeat it once." When the abbot indicated he was ready to receive the teaching the rabbi whispered, "The Messiah is among you."

The abbot assembled the monks in the community room and announced the rabbi's teaching. "The rabbi says one of us is the Messiah!" The monks were dumbfounded. Could it be true? Who could it be? The result was that their attitude toward one another and community life changed. They treated one another with deference and respect. Their prayer was more joyful. Before long, people were coming from far and wide on pilgrimage to be with the holy monks. Young men once again asked to join the community.

They lived as if they had finally found something. They prayed the Scriptures as if still looking for something more.

The gift they received is the gift of the presence of God.


Monsignor Bradley then read a section of Cardinal Bernadine's book, "The Gift of Peace", written just before his death. The chapter dealt with the difficult final years when Bernadine overcame sexual misconduct allegations followed by his diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. Like Charles Dickens' Tale of Two Cities, the Cardinal described it as "The best of times; the worst of times"---worst because of the humiliation, pain and fear; best because of the reconciliation, support and prayers he experienced.

Bernadine learned if you place your life totally in the hands of the Lord, good will prevail. He encourages us to release those things that inhibit us from an intimate relationship with the Jesus. Letting go is never easy. It is a life-long process. It takes a lifetime to learn these truths.

For the rest of the day, Bradley encouraged us to think about what the obstacles were to our letting go? What things can't we put aside to make room for Jesus.

Finally, from St. Augustine wrote: Let us sing alleluias here on earth in our insecurity. Sing to lighten our labors. Sing to make the journey more enjoyable. Sing, but keep on going. Keep making progress in virtue, true faith and right living.

Each of us is here for some mission and it continues as long as we are alive.

Like Ananias who helped Paul remove the scales from his eyes, we are where God wants us to be to fulfill God's purpose, although we might never know what part we played in God's plan until the next life.

****************************
Today is World AIDS Day. Alas, gone are the days when our Maryknoll Center buzzed with activity to mark this date. Although Maryknollers continue AIDS ministry in many countries around the world, here at Mission Central there are no more 40 Hours Vigils, no prayer service, no prayer cards, no photo exhibit, no memorial quilt and no special Mass. Still, I want to publicly acknowledge the work of Ms. Susan Weissert who headed the now defunct Maryknoll AIDS office that coordinated our awareness programs for many years.

*********************

Aging pipes (see post below on Wikileaks) seem to be at the root of yesterday's gas leak and it will take some time to replace. Till that time, the gas will be cut off to the entire building. Kudos and thanks to the Physical Plant people who have been working non-stop with Con Ed and the fire department. And special thanks to the Sodexo staff for their stepping up to the challenge to give us hot, cooked meals.

Truth be told, had you not known the gas stoves were off-line, you'd never have guessed it from the fine food that continues to come out of the kitchen. Short ribs of beef and pasta with butternut squash, plus roasted tomato bisque were this evening's offerings. What's their secret? In the finest mission tradition, they made do with what they had, namely steamers and electric broilers. But even these have their limits, so starting Thursday they will be cooking our meals at St. Teresa's and the Sisters' then transporting them to our dining room. "Above and beyond the call of duty,"

Gas leak at the Knoll

We are into the first 24 hours of a gas leak first detected by employees yesterday afternoon. Crews are still working to locate and fix the leak which seems to come from rusting pipes. In the meantime, meals are creative. Here are the official emails from Mr. Al Vitello head of Physical Plant and from Ms. Margaret Ellicott-Sheehan, Sodexo manager:

***************************
Dear residents and seminary employees,
 
This Afternoon (Nov. 30) at approximately 1:30 pm two of our Physical Plant Employees detected a smell of natural Gas in the seminary ground floor F-wing. The town Fire Department and Con Edison were called in for an emergency response and the Gas to the building was shutdown. We believe the leak is in the ceiling of the M-wing Cloister and we are looking into ways to make the necessary repairs as soon as possible.
This natural gas line feeds the stoves in the main kitchen and the two gas dryers in the main laundry room. Until the repairs are made and this gas line is tested, the stoves and dryers will be out of service.
We apologize for the inconvenience,
Thank you,
 
Al Vitiello
Director Of Physical Plant
Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers
 
*********************
Dear residents and employees,
 
 
Earlier today (Nov. 30) the gas was shut off to the stoves in the kitchen due to a gas leak.  During this  time we will do our best to provide you with hot meals.  Unfortunately we will have to make some changes to the menu and we will post those changes in dining room and on the menu line daily. 
 
Please bare with us during this difficult time.  As soon as the gas is turned back on we will be able to provide you with a regular menu and your favorite foods. 
 
Thank you in advance for your cooperation and understanding.  If you have any questions or concerns , please feel free to contact us.
 
Thank You,
 
Margie Sheehan & Sodexo Staff
 

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You'll know who sneaks a smoke in their rooms. They're the ones with singed eyebrows.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Walsh Building future

Lay Mission Capo di Tutti Capi Sam Stanton sent out an announcement last Thursday regarding the Walsh Building, according to Anonymous Source #3, Therefore, without further ado (although this may start a whole new to-do, here's what I heard:

According to two other reliable sources, the Walsh building is scheduled to become the new offices for the Maryknoll Lay Missioners. In exchange, we will receive—by default—the Bethany building.

Since the Walsh building will only be used for office space, no major renovations are needed to bring it up to code if, as had been conjectured, it were to be used as a residence for retreatants, seminarians or disgruntled younger guys who are increasingly outnumbered by erstwhile rusticating retirees.

This raises several intriguing questions. If we again have Bethany, what will we do with it? I have no inside info, but let me once again raise the possibility of the disgruntled younger guys (and, believe it or not, at 62 I am still among the ten youngest guys here at the Center) moving to someplace where no one gets upset if someone moves their cheese. A kind of Maryknollers-In-Exile, as it were.

But a more interesting question is, without Bethany, where will the lay missioners train? Again, no inside info, but it seems the lay missioners will need some place very close with a lot of vacant rooms in it. Maybe a large dining area. Laundry room. A chapel even. Hmmm... (I wonder how they feel about the ambo?)

***************************************

And here for your further enlightenment is the text of Maryknoll Lay Missioner Sam Stanton's letter:

Update on Facilities Study


Dear Maryknoll Lay Mission community:

Almost a year ago, after more than a year of weathering the effects of the global economic crisis, the MKLM Board of Directors in light of their fiduciary responsibilities identified the necessity to review the feasibility of MKLM as an organization sustaining a structure and property like Bethany. This building, dear to the hearts of missioners, staff and Returned Missioners and “home” to many a missioner when they returned to the states, was rapidly draining us of our resources. Plans to do needed renovations to Bethany became less and less feasible as the economic crisis continued on. Resources and capital were being put into repairs and maintenance, while at the same time the Association faced large cut backs overseas and in the states, and limitations on the number of missioners we could bring into the organization. We were challenged to put our priorities in order and clarify our goals; If mission is our priority and putting more Maryknollers in the field our goal, we needed to resolve the issue of the Bethany financial drain.

Bethany is an old building that has needed significant upkeep and renovation for many years. Plumbing, roofing, many other infrastructure issues have long been in decline, and in some cases neglected for too long. These issues began steadily draining resources.

In addition, our first mortgage payment to the Society for the building was due in 2009, just at the time of the US and global economy collapse. We had to ask for, and we received, a deferment on beginning our mortgage payments.

In late 2009 the Board of Directors asked for a feasibility study and gave me the responsibility of investigating alternatives. We first went to the Society and Congregation to explain our situation and the investigation we were initiating. We received support and understanding from both leadership teams and both expressed support and a desire to help in any way they could. Both entities said they would investigate the possibility of housing candidates in their centers if that would help. From the beginning of the conversation the Society raised the possibility of MKLM renting the Walsh Building as our center. If we reached an agreement, the Bethany property would revert back to the Society and the mortgage forgiven.

Since then we have continued negotiations and have looked at all factors and how our different needs would be met if we did not have the services that Bethany provides. These needs include center of operations, office space, housing of candidates and missioners during orientation and other programs, housing for missioners when coming through, space for meetings and retreats, meals and catering, etc.

Over the past several months we have studied each aspect of our needs and what needs the Walsh Building would fulfill, as well as how other needs might be met, especially some of our formation needs and housing during orientation and other programs.

In the month of October and now into November negotiations have advanced. With the cooperation of the Society leadership and their staff we are nearing a probable agreement on rental of the Walsh Building. As well, we are in discussion with both the Society and Congregation regarding room and board options for candidates as well as other program requirements including, formation space and chapel availability. . Some programs would require space off the Maryknoll campus. We continue to search for innovative ways to see how we fulfill those needs.

In summary, negotiations are proceeding and we hope to reach an agreement by the end of the year or shortly thereafter. We will keep you abreast. On Tuesday, December 14 we will have a staff communications meeting at Bethany. Staff members will be able to present questions concerning the facility. We will write up the minutes of this meeting and post them on the following Monday Bulletin for all missioners and board members to see. It is important to note that even though an agreement is reached, the move will not take place most likely until late summer. The Society has agreed to do a number of renovations that are needed in the Walsh Building, as well as a general cleaning, painting, laying new carpet, etc.

I am the first one to recognize that this change means a huge cultural shift for the Maryknoll community. My family and I have deep emotional ties to Bethany. Bethany has truly been home when serving in the states or coming to the states in the different periods we served in Chile over the twenty five years we have been a part of Maryknoll. However, such as our beautiful cathedrals are not the Church, rather the people of God, mission is not Bethany. It is the walk with, the exchange with and the service we offer the people. It is about building bridges of understanding in a broken world and it is about working for justice and building the “kindom” of God. If that is truly our focus, then our cathedrals and “Bethanys” are put into perspective. We can move on.
As I close I want to say how accompanied and supported we have felt in this process by our brothers and sisters in the leadership of the Society and Congregation. Although we are three separate organizations, we are truly a mission family called Maryknoll. That kinship that is the basis of the gospel is the spirit that will carry us through this transition and will guide all of us to work together for the future of mission and for the role that Maryknoll should and can play in the years to come.

In Our Lady of Maryknoll,

Sam

Post T-Day Updates

Sorry for my hiatus during the Thanksgiving break. Here are some rumblings around the salad bar not related to consuming copious amounts of garlicky salsa:

• Why did it take almost three days between Fr. Tom Goekler's death in Guatemala last week and an official notice going out to the membership? In this age of instant communication, texting, IMing, Facebooking and Tweeting via Twitter, there has to be a better way to communicate. We still do not know if Tom's funeral actually took place yesterday in Guatemala as had been suggested but not yet confirmed. Personally I find it unsettling that the last three Maryknoll deaths (Sr. Anna Boland, Sr. Patty Startup and Fr. Tom Goekler) were all unexpected and all in their sleep. Going to bed may be hazardous to your health.

• The General Council is away in Paris for their quarterly "meeting." They say they chose that venue ostensibly to allow for an official thank you to the Paris Foreign Mission Society (with a sidetrip to Millhill in the U.K.) for the role they played in helping our Founders get Maryknoll started 99+ years ago. At least that's their story and they're sticking to it.

• One of my "Anonymous Sources" pointed out yet another egregious error in an official MK booklet. (The first being the misidentifying Mission Sunday on the Maryknoll calendar for 2010). Apparently whoever puts out the annual booklet of birthdays and death anniversaries still thinks Fr. Stephen Taluja is a seminarian. Oh well, cultivating a "Culture of Vocations" apparently still hasn't caught on.

• Some guys in the dining room are not too sure what the Wikileaks brouhaha is all about. Some here think Wikileaks is what happens when you get old.

• In a tip of the hat to my own journalistic restraint, I have been sitting on a story about the Walsh Building for three weeks now. I promised two sources I would wait until things became official and I know for a fact meetings and negotiations are going on even as we speak. I also know that people here already heard that something is in the works, but I shall wait till the deal is sealed before posting, as promised. Hopefully I will have something for you in a few days.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Sad news

Fr. Dave LaBuda just posted on my Facebook Wall the sad news that Fr. Tom Goekler died in his sleep in Guatemala.

Tom was originally a priest associate from Connecticut who then formally joined the Society.

He worked in China and Guatemala, where his ministry included getting gang members to join mainstream society and getting their tattoos removed.

No other details yet available.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Non-explosive meetings

The Conference of Major Superiors of Men, Region II (mainly the Tri-State area) has been meeting here since last night to plan and strategize. Twenty men gathered for this all-day meeting, hosted by Fr.Ed Dougherty and Fr. Mike Duggan. Nothing has made it as far as the salad bar but I'll keep you posted.

Whilst I and Fr. Ed Szendrey and aforementioned Mike Duggan were at choir practice yesterday afternoon for the upcoming annual Christmas concert (Dec. 10) and opening Centennial Mass (Jan. 25), the rest of the community was at the house meeting (except for the 40+ guys who had something else to do.)

But my anonymous source (a.k.a. Kevin Dargan) reports that Fr. Richard Callahan, on behalf of the I.T. Staff, presented an Emergency Recovery Plan whereby computers and back-up files would be stored in rooms adjacent to the Crypt. This would be used primarily should a fire --God forbid--or some other disaster (like a Palin presidency or Justin Bieber concert) renders the Price building unusable.

Hearing this, I had an immediate spell of deja vu, since we had this exact same issue, oh, 20 years ago. At that time the Diaster Preparation Committee (since then disbanded when they could prevent neither the Palin candidacy nor Bieber's career), decided to back-up files between the Price and Walsh Buildings. This became moot when Walsh went belly up (but rumors of an imminent reincarnation await final approval, then you'll read it here.)

Part Two of the house meeting was given over to Fr. Bob Jalbert and an update on all the Centennial preparations. Eleven Committees were not enough. Two more Committees, one for June 29 and another for Ossining) are about to be named.

Hmmm...with our rate of decline in numbers plus multiplication of Committees, mayhaps by June 29 every member will be on at least one Committee.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Keeping the Merry in Maryknoll

Fathers Moran, Masson and Gosslin play back-up for Ms. Lucille Naughton.

The Docster and the Barthmeister

Festivities on Founders' Day

In the spirit of the Founders

John Moran, Don Doherty and Ed McGovern channeling Rogers, Price and Walsh.

Founders' Day

Billed as a time for "games and tomfoolery", Founders' Day kicked off the unofficial Centennial celebrations here at the Knoll today at noon. (I think this is the third unofficial kick-off so far.) In any event, the dining room was decorated with the flags of Massachusetts and North Carolina and the menu featured the favorite dishes of the Walsh and Price families, although absent a seance, I don't know how anyone could know this.

Seafood, Boston baked beans, "crowded" peas and pork chops filled our tummies as the folk duet of Gosslin and Masson played some of our founders' favorite ditties (see above comment about seances). These included ""When Irish Eyes are Smiling" and "Dixie", but strangely no "C'e la Luna Mezz' u Mare" which I know for a fact Tommy Price sang every evening at Vespers. (See above about tomfoolery.)

Then who made an appearance but none other than Fr. Price and Bishop Walsh, (a.k.a. Fr. Don Doherty and Fr. Ed McGovern, respectively.) They reenacted their now famous meeting at which Maryknoll was conceived, yet with an imaginative twist: show tunes! These included "Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better" and "Over There" and "The Impossible Dream." Ms. Lucille Naughton provided professional accompaniment on the electric keyboard. "Climb Every Mountain" was lead by Mother Mary Joseph who bore an uncanny resemblance to Fr. John Moran with a towel over his head.

Raffling off prizes such as gift cards for Target and Barnes & Noble, Dr. Claudia Koblenz-Sulcov spread the wealth among residents of the Center and St. T's. Claudia and John are members of the Wellness Initiative whose goal it is to "add life to our years". They succeeded.

The gathering broke up precisely at 1:00 with everyone filled with a spirit of convivial magnanimity, just in time for the monthly house meeting later this afternoon---the first since the notorious shoot-out at Ambo Corral. Stay tuned. Providentially, I have choir practice at that time.

P.S. John Moran answered the question on everyone's mind (No, not why he was wearing a towel on his head): Why is today Founder's Day? According to John, back in the day, FD was celebrated on November 21, when the men first received their cassocks. Since that falls on a Sunday this year (and we no longer wear cassocks, and the Founders are dead), today was the obvious alternative. Or something.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Guests and such

Last week, Fr.Mike Cerrone, who was a seminarian here about the time I was (mid 1970s) dropped by for an overnight visit. He has already retired (being a few years older than I, even though he was behind me in sem due to his military service). Mike had a successful career as a pastor in Savannah, Georgia. In fact, some years ago he brought a busload of parishioners here on pilgrimage.

Apparently since that time I have packed on a few (?) pounds which Mike was gracious enough to notice. He, in turn has gotten visibly older. The difference being, I can get thinner, he can't get any younger. But all is well, since he also mentioned how much he enjoys the photo reflections.

Former (and God-willing, future) Maryknoll seminarian Mr. Mark Zachar has been accepted to do two years Peace Corps service in Eastern Europe. Sounds like a creative and productive way for Mark to spend his time before reapplying to Maryknoll in 2013.

The heads of the major, regional MEP houses are here for a few days of planning and meetings.

Salesians from Port Chester (sems and priests) were here for a day of reflection yesterday.

Likewise, Mr. Pablo Talavera, from San Diego, was here over the weekend and left for home early this morning after taking the battery of psych tests as part of his application process. Pablo joined the 17 Maryknollers for the rosary last night in the Crypt. It was nice having the fruit of our prayers for vocations here with us.

Last but not least, 150 post masters will be here for lunch today. Note to residents:get to lunch before 12:30!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Just desserts

Chef Mike McLoughlan looks on as Fr. Bob Jalbert threatens to cream Super G, Fr. Ed Dougherty. Tonight's confection was a fresh fig brownie in strawberry yogurt sauce. Yum!

Honoring deceased MK vets

Tributes for the living and the dead

Live music, song and dance from the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s regaled the residents at St. Teresa's residence yesterday as an unofficial kick-off to our centennial celebrations. "These men embody Maryknoll's early years," said Mr. Robert Ambrose, Maryknoll's chief operating officer, who acted as both emcee and performer. "So often health or declining mobility prevents them from attending events in the main building," he said, "so the celebration was brought to them."

Mr. Dave Agosta, director of support services, welcomed the men as they entered the rec room to his trumpet rendition of "When the Saints Go Marching In." Then the "Cheery Knollers" (Mr. Frank Enzerillo, Ms. Holly Brown, Mr. Paul Lonce and Mr. Bill Foster) played tunes from previous decades, leading to Dave playing "In the Still of the Night" and Ms. Adriane Monero-Glass, Ms. Cynthia Lynch and Ms. Janice Singer sang "Johnny Angel." Cythia then soloed with "Route 66."

Ms. Kathy Golden and Ms. Leah Diaz-Mahnken showed a video they produced with footage of St. T's interspersed with six interviews with residents.

A surprisingly talented performer (at least to Maryknollers!) was Fr. Emile Dumas who both sang and played the guitar. He was then joined by Fathers Fern Gosselin and Paul Masson on the bass and guitar respectively.

Ms. Aurette DeCuffa and Ms. Cindy Lynch then tap-danced for the guys. Bob, Cynthia, Adriane and Janice next performed a quartet medley.

Superior General Father Ed Dougherty then added his words of thanks to the men, and also mentioned that it was during the tenure of Fr. Tom McDonnell that the concept of "Mission St. Teresa's" was started, underscoring how these men continue to support and participate in Maryknoll's mission work through their lives of prayer and sacrifice.

Two elementary schools where Maryknollers had visited recently wanted to show their appreciation for the work that missioners do, so the students crafted hand-made crosses and sent these in. Each Maryknoller at St. T's received one as a reminder that they and their service are appreciated and will not soon be forgotten.

The entertainment part of the program ended with Janice singing Nat King Cole's "Unforgettable."

Then the partying began with hors d'oeurves and liquid refreshment. Ms. Pat Moritis, St.Teresa's director, remarked that one proof of the success of the program was that so many men lingered even after the dinner bell rang.

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Following the 11:30 Mass today, about 25 men gathered under the clear autumn sky at the Celtic Cross in the corner of cemetery for a brief prayer service in honor of the Maryknollers who had served their country in the armed forces. Br. Kevin Dargan led the service. The service started with the a cappella singing og "God Bless America" and ended with "My Country T'is of Thee. Every year Kevin makes sure that the grave of each veteran has a medallion and American flag on Veterans' Day and Memorial Day.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Scathing report on missal translations sent to bishops | National Catholic Reporter

http://ncronline.org/news/faith-parish/scathing-report-missal-translations-sent-bishops

The above link to a recent article in the NCR shows that all is not well in the liturgical world regarding the New Roman Missal scheduled for implementation in Advent 2011. I can think of no better way to reintroduce the community discussion of the ambo next year than with these controversial liturgical "improvements."


Sent from my iPad

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Return of the Super G

Father Ed Dougherty returned from his trip to Korea, but unfortunately he was not able to accompany Fr. Jerry (with a J) Hammond on a visit to the North. It seems while visiting the South, Doc picked up a bug (the viral/bacterial kind, not the electronic kind) which got him to experience first-hand the state-of-the-art medical facilities in Seoul. Jerry stayed with Doc through his recovery.

Now before you go all HIPA on me, I already asked Doc if I could share this with you and he said sure, "Just don't spin it." (Moi?) This did bring up a memory from my Peace Corps days when I visited Fr. Jerry (with a J) Hammond and he taught me about his "top theory" of leadership: "keep them spinning or they'll start spinning you."

Doc had high praise for Seoul's modernity and development and especially the hospitals. We agreed that Korea was a good place to get sick in. That being said, Doc looks visibly thinner because of his ordeal, but he doesn't recommend this as a weight loss program.

The Super G spoke highly of our men in Korea, mentioning Fr. Russ Feldmeier and Fr. Phil Mares by name as being involved in ministries with a direct impact on the Church in Korea by offering new ways of ministry and relating to others.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

An IT improvement

This just in from Ms. Nancy Kleppel, our Center Administrator:

CALENDAR OF EVENTS AT THE CENTER NOW ON THE INTRANET
 
Good News!  Thanks to the professional skill and talent of Andy Fitzgerald and Denise Pierce of I.T., who crafted and worked on this project, all Society members and employees with access to the Maryknoll intranet can now view the Public Meeting Room Calendar of the Society Center Building.  This “view only” tool will allow you to see what dates and meeting rooms are open to apply for as you plan for your future meeting or event.

The Society 2011 Centennial-related planning meetings and events are color coded in red.

On the home page of the Maryknoll intranet simply click on the link “Events at the Center” under the Maryknoll logo and it will take you to the calendar.  You will be able to see daily, weekly, or monthly meeting schedules to learn what’s coming up and/or to find desired dates for your events to make application for in the future.

Please continue to follow the process of requesting meeting space through the application forms found under Departments/Center Administrator’s Office on the intranet.  Send your application form to Sharon Moyer at smoyer@maryknoll.org.  
 
Nancy Kleppel
Center Administrator

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Our man in the NYT

Apparently the link below to the NYT article is broken, so here is the photo of our own Fr.Jerry McCrane exercising his right to be as confused as the rest of us with the new voting system. Note the statue of Our Lady of Maryknoll in the background.

Election update from Maryknoll

Well, our own Fr. Jerry McCrane was in the right place at the right time doing the right thing when a Reuters photographer came by to snap a few pix. As a result, he and Our Lady of Maryknoll made the front page of the New York Times. And according to Fr. John Sivalon, this picture was also picked up by MSNBC. Check it out:


http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2010/11/02/us/electcham511/electcham511-custom18.jpg


By the numbers, here at Ossining Voting District #24 the votes broke out this way:

Eligible, registered voters: 272
(many are overseas and vote absentee)

GOVERNOR
Cuomo (D) 54
Paladino (R) 16

U.S. SENATOR
Schumer (D) 53
Townsend (R) 17

U.S. SENATOR
Gillibrand (D) 49
DioGuardi (R) 19

U.S. REP
Lowey (D) 55
Russell (R) 16

STATE SEN
Oppenheimer (D) 51
Cohen (R) 17

Interestingly enough, as Maryknoll went, so went the candidates, with those winning here winning their races.

One anomaly, the Right To Life Candidates were VERY hard to locate on a notoriously hard-to-read ballot. They were scattered on the Green Party line (!) with Right to Life in very small print. Two Right To Life candidates for State Supreme Court Justice, Matthew Byrne and James Burke, garnered 8 and 10 votes respectively while the Democratic candidates pulled 45/46 votes each.

No word whether Jerry McCrane intends to parlay his new-found fame into a possible future run for office by throwing his beretta into the ring.

Exercising our franchise

Members gather at the polling place in the Spellman Room and will no doubt complain about the process if not the politicians that emerge tonight.

All Souls need to vote!

All Souls Day got off to a busy, albeit complicated start as the new-fangled voting system unfortunately worked. Instead of ye olde voting booth with levers to pull, this new process entails getting a paper ballot, going to the semi-private station and manually filling in the circle next to the candidate's name, then inserting it in a "privacy" sleeve, then going to a machine and scanning it.

That's the theory, any way. Even with my trifocals I had trouble reading the ballot, let alone filling in the circle (it's been decades since I took SATs). Two Maryknollers ahead of me had their ballots rejected by the scanner when they apparently colored outside the lines. Their ballots had to be voided and they started all over again, with a poll watcher offering to help. (Who watched the poll watcher?)

One Maryknoller signed in and, after perusing the ballot, returned it, saying he wasn't going to vote. There was only one privacy sleeve, but I figure if people don't know how I voted, they don't know me very well.

But the most curious aspect of election day here at the Knoll is that someone, an outsider or insider, papered the cars in the parking lot with Pro-Life voters guides and sample ballots, complete with write-in suggestions. What made this odd, if not altogether mindless, is that the so-called Pro-Life and Republican candidate for governor, Carl Paladino, is endorsed even though his boorish actions, such as forwarding obscene emails to subordinates, make him unfit for public office. If you think I am being harsh or partisan, consider that some of his emails contained pornographic images of bestiality, under which he wrote "awesome." By joining forces with him, the Tea Party and Pro-Life Party only diminish each other, or inadvertently confirm the suspicion that Pro-Lifers only care what happens before a baby is born.

Meanwhile back at the Knoll, only 34 people attended the Mass for All Saints yesterday, of which 28 were Society members (of the 85 residents currently living here). In other words, Solemnity or not, no more attended than at a normal weekday Mass. IMHO there will be no refounding or renewal or reformation of Maryknoll unless it is preceded by a revival of our personal and communal prayer life, but as of this posting, there are no signs of that happening any time soon.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

October surprises?

+ We welcome Fr. Dave Smith, newly from Tanzania, who has arrived at Mother Knoll to take up his new role as Maryknoll's Chief Financial Officer, replacing outgoing CFO Fr.Richard Callahan. Dave shared some interesting tidbits of news from Tanzania, currently in the midst of a presidential election. Tales of chicanery and dirty tricks rivals anything going on here in the U.S., one week from midterms.

I strongly urged Dave to get involved in some kind of week-end ministry, just so he can get out of this loony bin and maintain his sanity. Interestingly enough, Dave said I was the second person to suggest that in the past 30 minutes. I maintain you can tell by how a person conducts himself here whether or not he gets away on weekends or not.

+ Super G, Fr. Ed Dougherty is, even as we speak, visiting the DPRK for the first time. (One wag at dinner suggested he's there to pick up tips. Another countered that the new heir designate could pick up a few pointers himself.) Fr. Gerry Hammond, who visits several times a year with the Bell Foundation that supplies medical supplies to the North, is accompanying him. Would be nice if Gerry finally gets permission to establish a residency in Pyongyang. Wouldn't THAT be a great way to inaugurate our centenary celebrations!

+ Keep sending prayers for the Holy Spirit to bless participants at the vocation retreat going on right now at Los Altos. Fr. Dennis Moorman, Fr. Jim Madden and Deacon Steve De Martino are directing the retreat for five prospects.

+ The new security system in now active. You'll need a swipe card to get in any door except the main entrance. I doubt this will curb the mysterious recent disappearance of the purificators from the sacristy, along with the new aspergellum, the old aspergellum, both holy water buckets, and complete set of summer vestments. Seems the foxes are living in the chicken coop.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Fr. Michael Lapsley - The Time Has Come to Forgive and Forget

<Michael_Lapsley2.jpg>

Fr. Ed Szendrey's notes of Fr. Michael Lapsley's talk

About 100 people gathered in the Asia room, including ten Society members, to hear a talk on "The Time Has Come to Forgive and Forget" – Fr. Michael Lapsley, SSM

Robert Ellsberg introduced Fr. Lapsley: Fr. Lapsley bears the marks of his story on his body. He is one of the founders of the Institute for Healing of Memories (IHOM). When he was a boy, he considered becoming either a priest or a circus performer. At age 17, he joined the Society of the Sacred Mission, an Anglican religious order. He was assigned to South Africa in 1973 and soon after joined in the struggle against Apartheid. He was expelled in 1976 and relocated to Zimbabwe.  In 1990, he was maimed by a package bomb attack perpetrated by members of the Apartheid regime. He has overcome physical and psychological wounds to continue to work for justice. He returned to South Africa in 1992 to help victims of Apartheid heal their memories. H continues to travel the world speaking on forgiveness and facilitating workshops for trauma victims.

Michael Lapsley:
He spent 2 months at Maryknoll, New York in 2009. Fr. Lapsley has a long acquaintance with Maryknoll. He has always admired how many Maryknollers are committed to linking faith and justice, as well as their willingness to walk beside the poor and be a champion for their rights.
“Why did you come here today?” Did the title resonate with something in your life? The old Apartheid regime said we should forgive and forget, and move on. Fr. Michael looked in the Scriptures to see what the Bible said about forgetting. Often when the word ‘forget’ appears it is preceded by two words: do not. The three Abrahamic religions are the great remembering religions. In Hebrew Scriptures, whenever the Hebrews were lost, the Prophets called them to remember God; the reason they were lost was because they had forgotten what God had done for them. When a fellow Christian tells you that you have to forget, tell them they are talking junk.
What kind of memory does the Bible call us to have? It is redemptive memory – healing memory, which brings life from death. As humans we are all too aware of another kind of memory - destructive memory. How do we move from destructive memory to life giving memory? This question applies to individuals, communities (secular and Religious) and to nations.

It is often based in acknowledgment. There is an important difference between knowledge and acknowledgment. In an abusive family, many may have knowledge of the abuse but there may be a lack of acknowledgment. The recent acknowledgment by UK of the crimes committed in Ireland on Bloody Sunday – even though it is 37 years later - has finally started the healing of memories. Oppressed groups carry in their souls the memory of their oppression. The oppressors usually do not have – or claim not to have - knowledge (take for example the different views of the experience of slavery between Black and white Americans). Acknowledgment is not the end of the journey but the beginning of a new journey.

What does Bible say about forgiveness? On the Cross, Jesus prays for others to be forgiven, but does not himself say ‘I forgive’. Forgiveness is glibly looked upon as easy. Forgiveness is tremendously difficult. Forgiveness begins with admitting wrong. Then we go to God. Then we try to make amends.

As Christians we often reduce forgiveness to saying sorry, while ignoring the need for restitution and reparation. Zaccheus is an instructive story. He faces the reality of sin and commits to giving restitution four times over. Fr. Lapsley has met so many people who have forgiven that they may be free. The word in Greek for forgiveness has its root in the word used for the untying of a knot. In Christianity we often use forgiveness as weapon against causing harm. We tell the wronged person to forgive without first acknowledging their pain. If their pain is first acknowledged, maybe then they can begin the journey to forgive.
Forgiveness is a choice. At Apartheid's end, millions faced prospect of forgetting and burying the past. But the decision was taken to instead acknowledge what happened through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).

(Fr. Lapsley a shared a short video about the TRC)

For 5 years South Africans shared to their stories of pain. Lapsley wondered of the many who did not qualify to tell their stories (20,000 stories told in a country of over 40 million). Lapsley decided to take steps to create a workshop for healing of memories.  It is a 21/2 day experience for healing the memories of individuals on both sides of the Apartheid struggle.

(Fr. Lapsley shared a short video of an IHOM workshop).
(From the video) – The key is story-telling in the context of a journey. We choose the path of remembering and healing, rather than burying and forgetting. If we bury poisonous memories, they continue to damage and destroy – ourselves and those around us. The workshop culminates in rite of passage. Participants celebrate the step in their journey towards healing that they have taken through the IHOM workshop.

When people come to our workshop, we promise one step on a journey towards healing.
Lapsley is accompanied by Matoda, who is a member of the !Xhosa speaking people. Matoda was very moved by those he met here during his time in Maryknoll in 2009 and the stories he heard. 'My heart and dream for Maryknoll is that every wisdom and story can be captured'. He was a drama teacher in Capetown. He has participated in IHOM workshops which has been transformative for him. He has used his experience as a drama teacher to help those in workshops explore their painful memories.

Fr. Lapsley is often by members of the audiences he speaks to that he is a wonderful example of forgiveness.   However, Lapsley have yet to forgive anyone. He has moved from victim to survivor to victor. Still, he does not know who sent the letter bomb that maimed him. If the perpetrator comes forward, then forgiveness is on the table. . If the person who did this (sent the letter bomb) to Lapsley is a prisoner in himself, I have the key to his prison.  Lapsley believes a 1000 times more in restorative justice than in punitive justice (he was recently uninvited from speaking at a prison in the United States when the prison’s authorities discovered that Lapsley would speak on justice as a restorative process).  

Lapsley hopes that in his broken-ness he is evidence of what hatred and war does to people. But 1000 times more he wants to serve as a witness to the power of kindness, love and justice over hatred and war.
Lapsley dedicated his talk today to the Maryknoll martyrs, especially the four women martyrs of El Salvador.

Fr. Michael Lapsley

Time to forgive

Maryknoll Speaker Series Presents... Father Michael Lapsley, SSM

The Time Has Come to Forgive and Forget

Sunday, October 24th, 
2:30 p.m. 
Maryknoll Society Center
Free Lecture

Anglican priest and missioner Father Michael Lapsley explores how people can forget and forgive from both personal experience and a biblical perspective. For those struggling with everyday or extraordinary grief and loss, his story offers new perspective and healing.

Born in New Zealand, Michael Lapsley joined his religious order, the Society of Sacred Missions, in Australia. In 1973 he moved to South Africa, eventually becoming chaplain to both black and white students at the very height of the apartheid oppression. When he began to speak out on behalf of students who were shot, detained and tortured, he was expelled from the country.

In neighboring Lesotho he continued his anti-apartheid work and was targeted by South African operatives with a letter bomb hidden between two Christian magazines. Seriously burned, Fr. Lapsley lost both hands and the sight in one eye.

Since then, he's gone from victim to survivor to victor, helping to found the organization, The Institute for Healing of Memories.

Join us for this most timely and inspiring presentation. Admission is free and open to the public!

Maryknoll Society Center
55 Ryder Road, Ossining, New York 10562
RSVP: Colleen Brathwaite
(914) 941-7636, ext. 2445

Museum of Living Mission and Gift Shop open before and after the lecture.

Listen to the Voices of Our World interview with Fr. Lapsley on June 6, 2010

Tribute for Sr. Anna Boland

Aloha Fr. Joe,

I tried with no luck to put this on your website.

I received the news of Sister Anna's passing this afternoon, 23 October 2010.  Picking up our mail I saw a letter from Maryknoll and was sure of the sad news inside.  Sure enough.  I came out to the car crying and my wife asked me what was wrong.  We both sat and cried.
We had just spoken of her a few minutes before.  Nine days ago I had a stent put in and my wife asked if I that emailed Sister Anna.  I
told her that I intended to do that.

Sister Anna and I were third cousins.  Although I am twelve years younger we grew up in the same farming community in the Cox Creek
area of Clayton County in NE Iowa.  We had mutual great great grandparents, Daniel Ivory and Bridget Kealy Ivory who were married
in St. Michael's Catholic Church in Danesfort, County Kilkenny, Ireland.  We attended the same one room school house.  She actually
lived on the Ivory family farm a mile from where I was born.

I went to Korea to teach at Seoul American High School in 1963. Sister Anna arrived in 1965.  My wife and I retired in 1997 and Sister Anna a few years later.  She had attended our last Baccalaureate service for the Class of '97.  My wife and I were the speakers.

Sister Anna was a very important part of our lives in Korea. Many times we traveled the two hours to get to her clinic on week-ends. We would take some of our teacher colleagues and military doctors and nurses to met her and to observe her marvelous work.  I helped via the Officer's Wives Club to find funding for her work, especially anti snakebite medicine. I also took my photography students and some of my art students to the county and cattle market in her rural town and we would picnic with her in the shade of the sycamore trees.

Sister Anna was a wonderful human being.  My wife said today that Sister Anna was the most self-actualized women she had every met.
May she Rest In Peace.  She will be dearly missed by all of those who knew and loved her.

Michael F. O'Brien
PO Box 384899
Waikoloa, HI 96738-4899
808-883-8002
onggi@aloha-state.net

BTW, Sister Anna and I were both year of the Rabbit!!  Did I ever meet you in Korea?  Fr. John Heisse was a very good friend of our. We first met him when I said Mass on Yongsan, 8th Army.

We also knew many of the Sister at Jeung Pyeong.
--
Denial is not good for your health.

Michael F. O'Brien
PO Box 384899
Waikoloa, Hawai`i 96738

Fourteen of my books on blurb.com
http://www.blurb.com/my/store/public

Friday, October 22, 2010

St. Paul's letter to Maryknollers

The aftershocks continue rumbling just below the surface, suggesting something more visceral is at work. We would do well to attend to it before its toxicity infects the quality of life here at Mother Knoll.

I cannot help thinking some of the things said had no basis in reality. One man complained that the "monstrosity" didn't "say Maryknoll". Asked later what he meant by that, he "clarified" that the design had nothing to do with mission. Hmmm... in contrast to what? The tabernacle, altar, baldachino, stained glass windows, rood screen and crucifix? What does he suggest, draping a zebra skin over it?

Ah, but it is time to move on, especially after morning prayer today. Several Maryknollers suggested I post the reading from today's office. We could have used this advice last Wednesday, but we would do well to remind ourselves of these words at our next and every gathering.

Ephesians 4:29-32

"Let no evil speech proceed from your mouth; but only that which is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you are sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, indignation, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. And be kind and compassionat to one to another; merciful, forgiving one another, even as God has forgiven you in Christ."

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Ambo ambitions

What our community chooses to do or not do with the ambo and more importantly the rage bubbling not far below the surface still remains to be seen. One member missed the meeting because he was on duty to accompany guys to the hospital and such an emergency arose. He was so incensed at the direction (or lack thereof) that the meeting took that he is ill disposed to do anything more for what he perceives to be an increasingly growing group of guys who do nothing but complain when somebody moves their cheese. Our non community is in danger of falling apart (or the facade of community is in danger of collapse) unless steps are taken to invite the men to work through the underlying issues.

In the mean time, I found the following definition of Ambo on the New Advent website informative and amusing, seeing as how tradition sometimes had not one but TWO ambos (or ambones) in early churches to---ready?---facilitate communications!

AMBO

A word of Greek origin, supposed to signify a mountain or elevation; at least Innocent III so understood it, for in his work on the Mass (III, xxxiii), after speaking of the deacon ascending the ambo to read the Gospel, he quotes the following from Isaias (40:9): "Get thee up upon a high mountain, thou that bringest good tidings to Sion: lift up thy voice with strength". And in the same connection lie also alludes to Our Blessed Lord preaching from a mountain: "He went up into a mountain--and opening his mouth he taught them" (Matthew 5:1, 2). An ambo is an elevated desk or pulpit from which in the early churches and basilicas the Gospel and Epistle were chanted or read, and all kinds of communications were made to the congregation; and sometimes the bishop preached from it, as in the case of St. John Chrysostom, who, Socrates says, was accustomed to mount the ambo to address the people, in order to be more distinctly heard (Eccl. Hist., VI, v).

Originally there was only one ambo in a church, placed in the nave, and provided with two flights of steps; one from the east, the side towards the altar; and the other from the west. From the eastern steps the subdeacon, with his face to the altar, read the Epistles; and from the western steps the deacon, facing the people, read the Gospels. The inconvenience of having one ambo soon became manifest, and in consequence in many churches two ambones were erected. When there were two, they were usually placed one on each side of the choir, which was separated from the nave and aisles by a low wall. An excellent example of this arrangement can still be seen in the church of St. Clement at Rome. Very often the gospel ambo was provided with a permanent candlestick; the one attached to the ambo in St. Clements is a marble spiral column, richly decorated with mosaic, and terminated by a capital twelve feet from the floor.

Ambones are believed to have taken their origin from the raised platform from which the Jewish rabbis read the Scriptures to the people, and they were first introduced into churches during the fourth century, were in universal use by the ninth, reaching their full development and artistic beauty in the twelfth, and then gradually fell out of use, until in the fourteenth century, when they were largely superseded by pulpits. In the Ambrosian Rite (Milan) the Gospel is still read from the ambo. They were usually built of white marble, enriched with carvings, inlays of coloured marbles Cosmati and glass mosaics.

The most celebrated ambo was the one erected by the Emperor Justinian in the church of Sancta Sophia at Constantinople, which is fully described by the contemporary poet, Paulus Silentiarius in his work peri ktismaton. The body of the ambo was made of various precious metals, inlaid with ivory, overlaid with plates of repoussé silver, and further enriched with gildings and bronze. The disappearance of this magnificent example of Christian art is involved in great obscurity. It was probably intact down to the time of the taking of Constantinople by the Crusaders in 1203, when it was largely shorn of its beauty and wealth. In St. Mark's, at Venice, there is a very peculiar ambo, of two stories; from the lower one was read the Epistle, and from the upper one the Gospel. This form was copied at a later date in what are known as "double-decker" pulpits. Very interesting examples may be seen in many of the Italian basilicas; in Ravenna there are a number of the sixth century; one of the seventh at Torcello; but the most beautiful are in the Roman churches of St. Clement, St. Mary in Cosmedin, St. Lawrence, and the Ara Cli.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fallout over rusticating

OK, that was one of the most vitriolic house meetings in recent memory.

The dining room was abuzz long after the cease-fire was declared and, while respecting anonymity, I shall try to capture the spirit of the meeting. Remember those cantankerous town hall meetings last summer, when Tea Partiers shouted down all opposition? Child's play. Amateurs.

Things went downhill after Fr. José Aramburu delivered the dictum from the Super-G that the ambo experiment be postponed for one year to allow centenary celebrations to go on without distraction. About half the assemblage applauded. Normally that would make further discussion moot, but adrenaline and testosterone were already rampant. Later, one member of the liturgy committee vented his frustration with the General Council for waiting till the very last minute, literally, to quash the experiment. "How dare you? How dare you?" Chalk this up to yet another egregious lack of communication from on high.

When one member of the retirement community demanded to know who were the members of the liturgy committee, the man sitting next to him interrupted with "Expletive deleted, George, we just stood up and were introduced. Why don't you pay attention for a change instead of just mouthing off?"

That same man later apologized to George in front of the membership, but then added how George has been a "festering wound" in his side for many years. As of this posting, he didn't apologize for that back-handed apology.

But the fireworks didn't stop there. After several members pontificated about the ambo being a countersign to our service to the poor, a member of the liturgy committee vented how he was sick and tired of hearing guys complain about the cost of the ambo but no one wants to discuss the millions of dollars Maryknoll spends so its many retirees can "rusticate in Westchester". The murmurs were loud and long.

Only later at supper did I Google "rusticate" and learn it simply means to dwell in the countryside. By then, the damage was done and considerable umbrage taken by people who strongly resented the homophonous albeit unintended insult.

That being said (and much more was), discussion at my table went to a deeper level, namely, what is behind the strong emotions and vehemence over a piece of liturgical furniture?

One member inquired what the difference was between a pulpit and an ambo, and apparently the former is Protestant and the latter older and Catholic. In addition, I Googled ambo and learned it was Latin from the Greek amphi (as in amphitheater) and it meant a circular or semicircular place to speak...or run. So in a way it means to talk or run around in circles.

Check in next year for Ambo 3.0

Moot Ambo, for now

Moot point, for now

Torpedo 1.0

Vicar General Jose Aramburu, speaking on behalf of the General Council, asked that the implementation be delayed one year because of the upcoming Centenary celebrations. That nicely cut off discussion at the knees.

Ambo 2.1

The residents gathered for the monthly house meeting focussing entirely on the proposal by the liturgy committee to take the ambo out of storage and reconfigure the main chapel to accommodate it in accordance with liturgical guidelines.

Translation: we already paid big bucks for this ambo 10 years ago and, in deference to sound stewardship, shouldn't we at least try to use it and see how it goes?

Background: ten years ago, the liturgy committee, center coordinator (Fr. Mike Duggan) with the permission of then superior general Fr. Ray Finch commissioned a new processional cross, presider's chair, credence table and ambo by the Icarus Studios in Latham, N.Y. The design was to complement the architectural style of our main chapel. Two things threw a monkey wrench into the augmentation of these innovations. The ambo, which was to raise the dignity of the Liturgy of the Word, alas also raised the blood pressures of many residents when they saw how large it was. Placed next to the altar, it rivaled if not dwarfed it. Then it was learned that the total cost "rivaled the down payment on a house in Upstate, N.Y." and the proverbial fit hit the shan. Within two weeks the ambo was removed, dismantled and put into storage.

The proposal is to reconfigure the chapel like the Lady Chapel, but with the ambo farther down the main aisle, facing the altar, much like the set-up during the Triduum.

I shall blog the discussion next.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Oktoberfest @ Maryknoll

Kartoffelpfankuchen, Sauerbraten, Apfelmuse und Spätzle (und natürlich Bier) haben wir heute Abend gegessen um Oktoberfest viel Spass zu machen.

Spaetzle station

Chef Mike cooks up another taste treat.

Oktoberfest @ Maryknoll

video

Saturday, October 16, 2010

World Mission Sunday 2010

Contrary to what the official Maryknoll pocket calendar says, World Mission Sunday is NOT tomorrow, October 17 but rather the following Sunday, October 24. But hey, that's an understandable mistake. Why should Maryknoll know when World Mission Sunday is anyway?

Of course I could be wrong. What would the Society for the Propogation of the Faith know about World Mission Sunday anyway?

Hey, but don't just take my word for it. Check it out for yourself: http://www.onefamilyinmission.org/society-propfaith/i-am-a-missionary.html

Believing the Maryknoll 2010 Calendar, incoming vocations head Fr. Jim Madden and outgoing vocations head Fr. Dennis Moorman flew out to Indiana yesterday (despite a terrible windstorm that continues today) to tag-team on what they thought was World Mission Sunday. Of course, we can always explain away our chronological faux pas by saying that for Maryknoll, EVERY Sunday is Mission Sunday!

Meanwhile, unofficial word (read: believable rumor) has it that Fr. Leo Shea is temporarily singing "Jamaica, Farewell!" because he has generously accepted the Super G's offer to take the reigns of the Centenary Steering Committee---but not till January. Fr. Bob Jalbert has also graciously agreed to hang in there till December.

Those unsettling noises you hear are the members of the SubCommittee for Planning the Opening/FoundationDay/Closing Liturgies at Maryknoll, NY, stifling their gasps, shrieks, moans and other expressions of panic as they realize there are only three months left till the Opening Mass and the heads of the eleven (count 'em --11!) committees have yet to meet together so the fingers on the right hand know what the thumb on the right hand is doing.

Thus plans tentatively unfold for the Opening Mass for Tuesday, January 25, 2011 (The Conversion of St. Paul)....at least we THINK it's on Tuesday. Where's my Maryknoll 2011 calendar?