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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Be careful what you pray for

More than ten years ago at one of Maryknoll's many "brainstorming" sessions about how we can once again make Maryknoll a household word among Catholics, the idea surfaced (modesty forbids me from saying from whom) that Fr. Roy Bourgeois and the SOA watch should be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. I even blogged about it earlier.

Anyway, thanks to Fr. Roy, Maryknoll is once again becoming a household word though not in the way we had hoped. Then, go to find out, Roy and SOAW have indeed been nominated for the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize by the Society of Friends (Quakers) Service Committee. You can read their statement here:

Themselves a Peace Prize winner, the SFSC is only one of many former winners who may be inclined to vote for Fr. Roy. These include Desmond Tutu from South Africa, Rigobertto Menchu from Guatemala and Wangari Muta Maathai from Tanzania. (Kim Dae Jung, another winner and friend of Maryknoll from Korea, passed away in August 2009.)

My point is this: imagine if Roy and SOAW win. The Christian in us should probably rejoice because the causes of justice for Latin America and equality in the Church have come to the fore and public discussion of these following the media attention can only help clear the air. The pragmatist in us realizes we're screwed. No matter how we spin it, no way does Maryknoll come out looking good.

Now more than ever we need an articulate, street-smart, media savvy, professional journalist for our Media Rep who can think on his/her feet and cultivate that kind of relationship with both Catholic and secular press people that will see us through times of both crises and celebration.

Here at the Knoll, reaction to the news about Maryknoll's discontinuing of funding the SOAW has been mostly one of confusion and disappointment---and not a little anger. Many have checked out the video in the link below and concluded that that side of the story has not gotten out and as a result Maryknoll's reputation is suffering. I know for a fact we have lost supporters over this. This only underscores the URGENCY to hire a full-time, experienced, pro-active public media-relations rep, but to date no posting has been made, internally or externally, to fill this position.

Inertia may indeed prove our undoing.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Some still unsettled dust

The following was an anonymous post in a CNS (Catholic News Service) blog on Maryknoll's stopping financial support for the SOA Watch.

Anon, on July 26, 2010 at 5:58 pm Said:
Heidi – I send this to you FYI. This video was shot on Fr Roy’s SOAW national tour (information I found on a SOAW press release re: dates/locations for Fr Roy’s national tour, which ended in late May 2010). The tape is dated within the week of the reported May 24 meeting between Maryknoll and Fr Roy about the SOAW funding cut by Maryknoll. My guess is that this is the reason Maryknoll felt they had to cut funding. Listen through to the end of the tapes. Fr Roy has my full faith and support and I trust that he speaks from a place of deep and well-formed conscience. Nonetheless, I am not surprised Maryknoll felt it had to make this decision, based on Fr Roy’s very clear statement that, whenever and wherever he is granted a forum to speak about SOA and SOAW, he will also speak about women’s ordination. In fairness to Maryknoll, I think these videotaped – and thus fully authentic – statements need to be publicized, to flesh out this story and balance the speculation. Again and again, I have read and heard questions – including my own – that ask why it is assumed that SOAW should be held accountable for the personal beliefs of its founder. The tapes answer that question, I believe. I do not write this in critique of Fr Roy or SOAW. I write in the interest of honesty in general and fairness to Maryknoll in particular.

The CNS blog can be read here:

Friday, July 23, 2010

Statement by Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers on SOA Watch Funding

Here, without comment or critique, is the official statement crafted last May by the General Council, a hard copy of which I got from Mr. James McCullough, interim media rep.


On May 24, 2010 Father Edward Dougherty, Superior General of the Maryknoll Society, met with Father Roy Bourgeois to discuss the Society's decision to discontinue financial support to the School of Americas (SOA) Watch.

Given Father Bourgeois central role as founder and public face of the SOA Watch, Society leadership has determined that it cannot continue its financial support of that organization without giving the impression that it also supports the actions of its leader concerning the issue of women's ordinations. (Those actions led to his automatic excommunication [Latae sententiae] by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2008.)

This decision is not intended to be punitive and is not designed to put pressure on Father Bourgeois, or on the SOA Watch organization and its activities. Maryknoll continues its solidarity with the people of Latin America and the Caribbean, and is unambiguous in its support of the goals of the SOA Watch.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Maryknollers pull SOA Watch funding | National Catholic Reporter

Maryknollers pull SOA Watch funding | National Catholic Reporter

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Thanks to my Catholic Press Association colleague, Ms. Heidi Schlumpf, author of the above blog, for giving me a heads-up on the above story via Facebook.

I, and I trust most Maryknollers, were blind-sided by this. There are problems on many levels.

1) Absent any media relations person (a replacement for Ms. Betsey Guest who retired last month has yet to be hired) calls from the press get bounced around giving the impression of an organization in disarray.

2) Maryknollers find out about this from outside sources. Granted it doesn't have to be via this blog, but it might have been classy to let the membership know that this very public action was taking place. Talking points would have been nice.

3) As Heidi pointed out to me in a later post, Maryknoll shouldn't be surprised when this results in bad press for us and even more loss of support.

4) We will lose more friends and not placate our detractors by one iota. So who are we trying to impress? (I know the answer, but I need my Prudence Chip now more than ever.)

5) Sources here would neither confirm nor deny details of this story and then, WHAM, it appears in NCR. What happened to transparency and better communications?

6) The Acts and Motions of the Eleventh General Chapter are effectively dead. In the paragraph about our relationship with the Church in the U.S. we said that actions on behalf of justice were necessary "even when they result in a loss of support." The word "prophetic" peppered that same document. Sounds nice, but this present action belies that stance.

7) What in the name of justice does the righteous work of closing WHINSEC (School of the Americas) have to do with the "attempted ordination of women"?No matter what you think of the latter, (and last week we know exactly what the Vatican thinks of this) the SOA Watch seeks to give voice to the voiceless and bring peace to Latin America.

8) SOA Watch has already issued a fund raising letter and will no doubt replace the funds cut.. The ultimate loser in this sorry case is Maryknoll.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Firetruck access lane

The north quadrangle gets plastic surgery. The lawn will make a comeback. We hope.

Young people

More than 30 young adults from around the country have gathered at Bethany for a two-week orientation to overseas mission workshop. Maryknoll Lay Missioner Joe Regotti is fascilitating the program for these lay missioners, most of whom are Salesians. None is from Maryknoll.

These young people are going to some serious mission territories such as Rwanda, Guyana, Bolivia and China. It is very refreshing to have young Catholics bubbling over with enthusiasm for overseas mission, theology and the Catholic Church. They will be joining us for lunch on Thursday (tomorrow.)

A big thank you to a fellow Maryknoller who wishes to remain anonymous and who contacted me with a donation of $1,000 to offset the cost of the commissioned icon of Our Lady of Maryknoll. I know this money could have been given to the poor but I firmly believe Maryknoll's refunding (Ha! Talk about Freudian slip! That should be REFOUNDING) starts with our spirituality and prayer life, and these ought to be rooted firmly in devotion to the Mother of God.

On a more mundane note, new emergency vehicle access lanes, such as the ones now under the lawn on either side of the kiosk in the main quadrangle, are now being laid in the north quadrangle. Hopefully the lawn will recover despite the hottest weather on record and Day 17 of the current heatwave of 90 degree weather in July alone.

Keep cool, everyone!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Our Lady of Maryknoll

Nicely lit.

No lift

We are now into the fourth week with the F-Wing elevator (the oldest and the newest) out-of-order. Go to find out, during renovations 15 years ago the car and shaft were replaced but the original motor, built ca. 1930, was kept. At first this seemed a wise move since the newest elevator on M-Wing seemed to have all kinds of problems, adding credence to the argument that things were just made better back in the old days. Well, now the motor of the F-Wing elevator has finally given up the ghost and there are no spare parts to be had. The replacement motor is supposed to be in place and running by week's end.

The beautiful statue of Our Lady of Maryknoll, gift of the Huber and Huvane families, that graces the Spellman Room and is visible from the Rotunda, has finally gotten the proper lighting (thanks to Mr. Tom Dunstan of physical plant) to focus on the statue without those unsightly eye-shadows that made Mary & Jesus look like Zorro's family, if not Rocky Raccoon's.

Speaking of OLOM, I have received the contract from iconographer Father William Hart McNichol's for a hand "written" 18" x 24" 23-karat gold leaf and acrylic traditional icon of Our Lady of Maryknoll in time for our opening liturgy on January 25, 2011. I am prepared to pay the entire cost myself, in which case it will be given in memory of the deceased members of the Veneroso family. However, I am more than willing to share the honor and the expense with fellow Maryknollers if anyone cares to donate. I do not want to be so crass as to reveal the entire cost, but if five other Maryknoller's each contributed $1,000 we could all share equally in this project. You do the math. Personally I figure the singular event of Maryknoll's 100th anniversary deserves nothing less.

Fr. John McAuley is in town, ostensibly to get his new visa that will allow him to teach in China. Tomorrow evening he will gather for dinner with whatever former Walsh Building cohorts remain. Unlike with previous meals, he no longer requires a food taster. I'll let you know if this was a wise move.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Weekend update

Responding to the "clarification" by the Vatican that lumped "the attempted ordination of women" as a "grievous sin" on par with the sexual abuse of children, our own prophet-in-exile Roy Bourgeoise issued a statement. In it he merely observed that to date not one convicted pedophile priest or bishop has been excommunicated. Protestations to the contrary notwithstanding, it does seem that by this punishment some in the Vatican must think ordaining women is actually worse that abusing children. Hard to argue with this logic. But as with most things from the Vatican these days, logic is not the issue.

I erred in an earlier post when I wrote the mission exposure trip to Honduras was already underway. Actually four men depart for Central America tomorrow, Saturday the 17th. Deacon Steve DeMartino will accompany Pablo Talavera, Sean Farry, Richard Rivera and Ryan Danaher. (Yes, they pay their way down and back and enjoy Maryknoll hospitality in between.) Please pray the Holy Spirit guide their discernment but that they apply to Maryknoll anyway. (I couldn't resist.)

Having celebrated the Mass for the community this past week, I had the opportunity to fan some sparks into flame---in a good way, I hope. It is my contention that Maryknoll is not dying, but we might very well kill it with our indifference. I see the two greatest threats to our survival as a Society as apathy and inertia. We no longer want to try new things and take risks that might upset our comfortable routine. Fr. Ernie Brunelle said we apply the "lowest common denominator." Today's first reading from Isaiah for the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel spoke of the dying Hezekiah who turned facing the wall to pray and weep at his imminent demise. God heard his prayer and granted him 15 more years. If we could only cultivate an equally fervent spirit of prayer, I am confident Maryknoll will enjoy many more years of mission service.

This weekend at the Knoll we welcome parishioners from St. Michael's Church in Jersey who are on retreat.

Similarly, tomorrow all day in the Asia room there will be the School for Vibrational Healing Meditation. Seriously. (Thank you, Prudence chip, but I never pick low-hanging fruit.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Renewal and reform

On this great and glorious feast of St. Bonaventure, Seraphic Doctor of the Church, several things converge. Bonaventure is one of 33 Doctors of the Church. You'd think by now it would be cured.

Alas today we have yet another self-inflicted wound as the Vatican issued a "clarification" that only confused people more. In it they stream-lined the procedure for defrocking pedophile priests, bishops and even Cardinals, put lay people on the judicial panel reviewing these cases and added child pornography to the list of things that could get a cleric booted. Still strangely silent is any mention of disciplinary action against bishops whose duplicity and/or incompetence perpetrated the scandal for decades (unless you consider being appointed to a plum position as pastor of one of Rome's major basilicas a punishment.)

Worse, that same document elevated the "attempted ordination of women" to the category of "grievous sin" on par with sexually abusing a child. Hello? A Vatican spokesman hastened to clarify the clarification that one was a moral sin while the other a sacramental sin. Huh? Advocates for Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (S.N.A.P.) were outraged as were women's groups and ordinary people with consciences. But of course these are a small minority of those real Catholics who come to church and pay their offering and shut their eyes, ears and mouth, so who cares what they think, right?

Enter St. Bonaventure. He was the eighth Minister General of the then still young Franciscan movement. He strove to link the heart of Francis of Assisi with the intellect of his contemporary, Thomas Aquinas. He opined the more one loves God, the more one would want to study about God; and the more one studies about God, the more one would love God.

It was both a logical and emotional wedding of two trends in Catholicism, so naturally he was vehemently opposed by those in his Order as well as those in the Church.

We here at the Center mourn the passing of the spirit of Vatican II. We give lip service to the reformation of the Church and the renewal of Maryknoll, both of which must take place if either is to survive.

But we are the Church. And even more so, we are Maryknoll. Want to renew the Society? Then do it. Be the Maryknoller you think the Society needs you to be. Want to reform the Church? Good luck with that. But renewing Maryknoll would reform the Church!

Today's gospel gives the solution: "Come to me all who labor and are heavy burdened, and I will give you rest. Take up my yoke and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart."

Ultimately, the renewal of Maryknoll and reformation of the Church are God's work. If we do our part and it is God's will, it will succeed. If we don't and it isn't, it won't matter.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha

On this great and glorious feast day of the Lily of the Mohawks, I give special thanks to Fr. John McAuley, in transit from Taiwan to the States, for this wonderful link. Blessed Kateri was always dear to me, since my hometown of Amsterdam, NY, is only seven miles from her birthplace in what is now Fonda, and across the river from Auriesville Shrine of the North American Martyrs. I am happy to share her story now with the Maryknoll world.

[Pronounce: Gah-deh-lee Deh-gah-quee-tah]

The blood of martyrs is the seed of saints. Nine years after the Jesuits Isaac Jogues and John de Brebeuf were tortured to death by Huron and Iroquois Native American nations, a baby girl was born near the place of their martyrdom, Auriesville, New York. She was to be the first person born in North America to be beatified. Her mother was a Christian Algonquin, taken captive by the Iroquois and given as wife to the chief of the Mohawk clan, the boldest and fiercest of the Five Nations. When she was four, Kateri lost her parents and little brother in a smallpox epidemic that left her disfigured and half blind. She was adopted by an uncle, who succeeded her father as chief. He hated the coming of the Blackrobes (missionaries), but could do nothing to them because a peace treaty with the French required their presence in villages with Christian captives. She was moved by the words of three Blackrobes who lodged with her uncle, but fear of him kept her from seeking instruction. She refused to marry a Mohawk man and at nineteen finally got the courage to take the step of converting. She was baptized with the name Kateri (Catherine) on Easter Sunday.

Now she would be treated as a slave. Because she would not work on Sunday, she received no food that day. Her life in grace grew rapidly. She told a missionary that she often meditated on the great dignity of being baptized. She was powerfully moved by God's love for human beings and saw the dignity of each of her people. She was always in danger, for her conversion and holy life created great opposition. On the advice of a priest, she stole away one night and began a two-hundred-mile walking journey to a Christian Native American village at Sault St. Louis, near Montreal.

For three years she grew in holiness under the direction of a priest and an older Iroquois woman, giving herself totally to God in long hours of prayer, in charity and in strenuous penance. At twenty three she took a vow of virginity, an unprecedented act for a Native American woman, whose future depended on being married. She found a place in the woods where she could pray an hour a day and was accused of meeting a man there! Her dedication to virginity was instinctive: She did not know about religious life for women until she visited Montreal. Inspired by this, she and two friends wanted to start a community, but the local priest dissuaded her. She humbly accepted an "ordinary" life. She practiced extremely severe fasting as penance for the conversion of her nation. She died the afternoon before Holy Thursday. Witnesses said that her emaciated face changed color and became like that of a healthy child. The lines of suffering, even the pockmarks, disappeared and the touch of a smile came upon her lips. She was beatified in 1980.

Excerpted from Saint of the Day, Leonard Foley, O.F.M.

Patron: Ecologists; ecology; environment; environmentalism; environmentalists; exiles; loss of parents; people in exile; people ridiculed for their piety; World Youth Day.

Symbols: lily (a symbol of her purity); a cross (a symbol of her love of Jesus Christ); or a turtle (a symbol of her clan).

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Cruising Manhattan Island

Eleven guys set out on a cruise around Manhattan Island this morning. Ms. Kathy Brophy from our Assisted Living office, is driving the van. Safe trip to all. We can only pray there is never a recurrence of the infamous Boat Ride Up The Hudson some years back when 30+ Maryknollers got stranded in Croton when the ship pulled into the dock listing at a 45 degree angle. We picnicked in the park that day. Of course that was a blessing. Can you imagine the chaos if the boat started taking on water with us on board and half way to West Point?

Thank you, Fr. Joy Tajonera, for getting back to me so soon about having some local people design and make stoles and vestments for our Centenary.

Speaking of which, I have contacted noted iconographer Fr. William Hart McNichols, to "write" an icon of Our Lady of Maryknoll in time for our opening Mass in January 2011. Bill wrote the famous icon "Mother of God--Light in All Darkness." commissioned by the U.S. Catholic AIDS Network. Google him. His work is inspired and inspiring.

I am also happy to report that three weeks into our 100th year, the Angelus has become a daily habit before Mass here at the Center. The reader leads the community in it's recitation just prior to beginning the liturgy, which makes for a nice reminder of the Incarnation flowing into the Eucharist.

Several young men are participating in a mission-exposure-discernment trip to Honduras even as we speak. Some 35+ young people are scheduled to descend on Maryknoll at the end of the month for two days of prayers, discussion and discernment about serving in the different Maryknoll entities. Please keep all of them in your prayers.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Maryknollers on the move

I'm not sure these have been officially announced yet in the (very retro hard copy of the Council Bulletin), but since multiple sources all seem to discuss this in our dining room, I figure it's OK to share them with you.

Fr. Jim Madden is in to take over as head of Maryknoll F & B Vocations Office starting September 1 from Fr. Dennis Moorman. Dennis is itching to get back to Brazil but has agreed to hang around to assist in the transition. Dennis is even as we speak in Tanzania with the two winners of the Explore My Mission contest.

Fr. Jack Northrup is back from our now closed Border Project in Juarez. He turned off the lights but Fr. Juan Zuniga has gone back to lock the doors. This was a valiant and noble effort over more than 20 years and not only helped the people on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border but also helped many vocation prospects discern whether or not mission was for them. The violence has gotten totally out of hand in recent years to the point where our presence might inadvertently make things worse for the people we are trying to help. "You got to know when to fold 'em" as the gambler says.

Fr. Stephen Taluja will assist Fr. Ray Nobiletti in Chinatown for about a year starting September 1. To explain all the machinations that took place since his ordination last year would make the Byzantine imperial court look like the Salvation Army. Rather than read between the lines, ask Stephen yourself.

Fr. Tony Brodniak, formerly of Japan, now assists OSP in offering spiritual direction to the members here. He is using the office of the late, great Fr. Al Schiavone, right next to my room R-203.

On another liturgical note, plans are afoot to replace those concelebration stoles (You know, the red/white reversible ones with the red yarn fringe from back in the1970s) with new ones in honor of our 100th. Fr. Joy Tajonera, if you are reading this, please contact me if you are able to get us a good price on some quality, handmade stoles from any of your contacts. Absent this, ironically both Fr. John Kaserow and Super G Ed Dougherty thought it would be nice to have them made overseas, preferably by some "XXXXX ALBINO XXXX in XXXXXXXX. (My prudence chip once again got the better of me.)

Speaking of a throw back to the 1970s, IMHO I think it's past time to throw back our 1970s theologies and ecclesiologies. But that is grist for another blog mill.

Mid July Bits of Liturgical Tid

Greetings from a sweltering Maryknoll.

My hiatus (no, not a hernia) in blogging stems from multiple reasons. Mostly not much exciting to report. Other times I may be away from the Knoll or am actually busy working (rarely, to be sure). More often then not there are REALLY juicy tidbits that prudence, one of my weakest virtues, forbids me from posting. That being said, in recent days I have gleaned some interesting snippets to share.

The Liturgy Subcommittee for Maryknoll's Centenary, of which I am co-chair with U.S. regional Superior Fr. Mike Duggan, has selected January 25, 2011 to formally open festivities.

Why this date? Early December is taken up with rehearsals and performance for the annual Advent/Christmas concert, usually the second Friday. That leaves precious little time to prepare for an opening liturgy in which we will introduce the Missa ad Gentes, composed by Michael Joncas of "On Eagle's Wings" fame for our 100th. Christmas-New Years is down and away time at Maryknoll. Towards the end of January, we have on January 25 the Solemnity of the Conversion of St. Paul, with various themes all of which virtually SCREAM Maryknoll. so there it is.

This will be followed by a joint day of reflection with the other Maryknoll entities.

Our Subcommittee is entrusted in preparing three such liturgies: one at the beginning; THE 100th Foundation Day on June 29; and a closing Mass sometime either in December 2011 or January of 2012 during which we shift gears to focus on the 100th of the Maryknoll Sisters.

According to Br. Kevin Dargan, Maryknoll's answer to Google, this is slightly misleading since that would be the centenary of the Teresians, the lay women secretaries of the early years who did not receive their canonical "recognition" (here's an example of my prudence kicking in) to become the Maryknoll Sisters of St. Dominic until 1921. But hey, Brothers mark their time in Maryknoll from their first oath, so who are we to quibble? Besides, Hawaii has every right to celebrate the Fourth of July along with the original 13 States.

Also marking their 35th anniversary this year are the Maryknoll Lay Missioners, with Archbishop Timothy Dolan presiding at the Mass in our main chapel on August 28.

I have much more to share but you could not bear it now. Check back in about 12 hours.