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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,


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.


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

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:

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  
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:

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)

Cuomo (D) 54
Paladino (R) 16

Schumer (D) 53
Townsend (R) 17

Gillibrand (D) 49
DioGuardi (R) 19

Lowey (D) 55
Russell (R) 16

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.