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Monday, January 31, 2011

Back to blogging

OK, where was I before reality interrupted? Oh yes. So, 35 Korean Sunday teachers were on retreat here last weekend. The theme was "Discipleship" and the keynote speaker was none other than our very our Father John Sivalon, professor of religion at the University of Scranton. John wowed 'em! He was at first somewhat taken aback by their youthful appearance, ignoring two facts: Koreans look younger than their age and John ain't no spring chicken anymore. Little did he realize that amongst the bright, youthful faces were a dentist, two nurses, a social worker, several pharmacists, an investment broker and, God willing, some future Maryknoll vocations! It was from this very group that Maryknoll seminarian Dae Wook Kim, currently winding up his OTP in Bolivia, came.

Providentially, Father Stephen Taluja, presently in limbo (let the reader take note), happened by the main chapel just as the group was to begin Eucharistic adoration and confessions. Father Gabriel Lee, the Queens pastor, thought himself and I would suffice to handle a mere 35 confessions. Well, were it not for Stephen's assistance, the two and a half hours of confessions would have gone on at least another hour, well past midnight. In case you haven't heard, Koreans LOVE to go to confession.

So let me summarize this past week here at the Knoll.

On Sunday, January 23, the Centennial Choir held a formal rehearsal, open to the public. About 150 guests attended and Ms. Aurette DeCuffa in our Gift Shop reports the new Missa ad Gentes CD sold very well.

On Monday morning, Jan. 24, we had a rehearsal of the opening parade of flags of places Maryknoll worked over the years. Cecil B. deMille's got nothing on us. (We had hoped to choreograph the opening games of the 2012 Olympics, but they said they wanted to keep it simple.)

At noon we held a Centennial Food for Thought with our living history in the persons of Father Charlie Cappell (the last Maryknoll Father to have personally met co-founder Bishop James A. Walsh) and Father Charlie Huegelmeier, whose economy of words gave Father Cappell more than sufficient time to finish his lunch. It was good to see so many employees attend, as they have fewer opportunities to hear these personal tales of our earlier days than we do.

On Tuesday, of course, was the Big Day, officially kicking off our yearlong celebrations of our Centennial Year. The earlier-than-expected snowstorm (the eighth so far) kept many people away. Still, our main chapel was filled and the sanctuary was packed with concelebrants wearing our new Centennial stoles, personally delivered from the Philippines by Fr. Joy Tajonera. Rev. Mr. Rodrigo Ulloa-Chavarry debuted his deacon role by holding aloft the new Book of the Gospels, gift to the Society of Fr. Joe La Mar and this blogger. (P.S., if anyone would like to go in on this gift before the official commemorative plate is engraved, contact me.) Deacon Rodrigo proclaimed the word and Doc gave a great (40-minute-long, but who's counting?) panegyrical encomium. Alas, he left for Asia before I could get a hard copy, but I will ask Ms. Nina Planamenta, his boss, if she has one.

Doc did drop the quiet bombshell that he had hoped to announce the opening of the cause for canonization of Bishop James A. which was to have taken place at the archbishop's office a day earlier. For reasons not explained to us, this was postponed. He said he hoped to have an announcement before the END of our Centennial year. My journalistic instincts tell me THIS is the hot story of the week; my survival instincts tell me I'd better not blog about it.

A DVD of the opening Mass will soon be available. Not surprising, while roughly 380 people attended the liturgy, Sodexo fed 425+.

Dampening the festive mood was word that dear Helen Tandy had passed away suddenly. She was the very definition of loyal service to Maryknoll over many years and continued filling in at the reception desk during her retirement. Her funeral took place in Buchanan on Friday at the same time as the funeral at Maryknoll for Father Pat Donavan. Still, two Maryknollers concelebrated Helen's Mass and other Maryknollers and many employees were in the congregation.

On Wednesday we had the daylong reflection day with Franciscan Sister Angelyn Dries, Maryknoll Father Kevin Hanlon and Maryknoll Sister Claudette Laverdiere all giving insightful and inspiring talks on our founders. Again, official transcripts will be forthcoming.

Sadly, the week ended with yet another death, Maryknoll Sister Virginia Flagg. At 99 years of age, she had not only met Bishop James A., she actually knew him! Her father had been instrumental in helping Walsh with the fledgling Society.

Perhaps the loss of such links to our past will help focus attention on the future of our Maryknoll movement.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Cross in the snow

An anonymous angel drew a cross in the snow behind Maryknoll, where 35 Sunday school teachers from the Korean church in Queens were on retreat.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

More white stuff

Yet another snowstorm--the eighth so far this year--blankets the Knoll and the rest of the Northeast, canceling flights and suspending Metronorth service.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

An anecdote about Fr. Price

Fr.Kevin Hanlon related the following story about the time Fr. Price was traveling out West by stagecoach. Two women were his co-passengers and, after some curiosity and whispering, asked this strange man all dressed in black and saying his Latin breviary, "Be ye a papist priest?"

He responded calmly, "Madam, I am priest of the Roman Catholic Church."

"Are you from these parts?"

"Yes, I am a born and bred Tar Heel," he assured them.

After more whispering, one ventured, "Is it true all you popish priests have horns?"

He calmly removed his hat to reveal his hornless head. Then, pointing to a pimple on his forehead, said, "But I am still a young priest. My horns are just coming in."

[All these talks today will be available on DVD from Channel 15]

An overflow crowd

People who could not fit in our main chapel gathered in the Spellman Room to see and hear Fr. Hanlon's talk on the Founders. The men in St. T's watched the live-feed on Channel 15.

Fr. Kevin Hanlon on Bishop James A. Walsh

Fr. Kevin Hanlon gave the second talk on our co-Founder. Decades after leaving the Boston clergy, James A. Was all but forgotten by the priests then living. Thus, gatherings like today's are all the more important to keep the memory of the Founders alive as we rekindle the spirit of mission.

Daniel Sargeant wrote the definitive biography of James A. Walsh. He noted that early on his very Catholic and very Irish patents say him early on as marked for priesthood. He lost his mother when he was 11. His father's business ventures soured and the family resettled in Cambridge. In a debating class he argued against women's suffrage, his debating skills compensating for his lack of conviction for the position.

He did doubt his vocation for awhile and wondered if he should abandon his path to help alleviate his father's financial burden. Walsh was raised by a second family, the Shea's, which brings to mind Christ's words in the gospel of John: "I will not leave you orphans."

In 1892 Walsh fulfilled his dream and was ordained a priest. As pastor he was given charge ior organized many sodalities and mission groups. He especially cherished bringing the Eucharist to the sick. It was on one such call he had a mystical experience. Visiting a dying woman he realized she was growing blind but was at the brink of seeing Christ face to face. This formed the base of his poem and later song "Only a veil." This poetic side reveals the passionate heart and romance behind the otherwise outwardly stern appearing facade Walsh usually presented to the world.

Walsh reveled in his appointment as SPF director. After a day's deliberation this became his assignment, setting the stage for fund-raising on behalf of overseas missions. He wanted to educate Catholics about the missions, telling them about realities there and doubling the income for the SPF. He maintained a practice of visiting a different parish every weekend. He started the Field Afar in 1907 that became MARYKNOLL magazine. Among his assistants was the young Molly Rogers who was to become the foundered of the Maryknoll Sisters.

At a conference in Washington he first encountered Father Price. The link between Eucharist and mission strengthened.

The vision that multitudes in every land be fed with the Body of Christ directed his steps.

Walsh and Price nourished their new friendship with correspondence in the following years.

The thought that other European groups might come to the States to open a missionary seminary gave impetus to their idea that America should have its own mission seminary.

The stage was set for their historic encounter at the Eucharistic Conference in Montreal at which the idea for Maryknoll would first express itself. "The flame intensifies as it spreads."

Sr. Angelyn Davies

Maryknollers and employees listen to our tales of our earliest pre-history.

Reflection Day Part One)

Maryknoll Sisters, employees, Brothers and Fathers regathered in the main one day after our opening liturgy for the centennial. I write them in that order since that was the order in which they arrived, with the Sisters starting to come in around 7:30 a.m. (for an 8:30 start) then the employees, followed by the still-trickling in Society members.

This morning's speaker was historian Sr. Angelyn Dries, Franciscan Sister from Milwaukee, who spoke on the historical context that formed the vision of Bishop James A. Walsh, Fr. Thomas Frederick Price and Sr. Mary Joseph Rogers.

Sr. Janice McLaughlin, president of the Maryknoll Sisters, shared a story from the earliest years when then Molly Rogers, along with her "chauffeur" (Fr. James A. Walsh) passed herself as a woman of means (read: WASP) to negotiate the purchase of farmland in Ossining. Despite the seller commenting on the "lawsuit against John J.Rockefeller by that curious priest" trying to buy land for his religious community, her ruse worked and the rest is history.

Sr. Angelyn spoke of the "gifts of time and place" 1866-1911

The ecclesiastical environment in the 50 years before Maryknoll's founding. Right after the U.S. Civil War the bishops met in Council in Baltimore. Could American Catholics be Catholics? Who will hold property deeds? The bishop? The pastors? The laity?
Marriage with non Catholics were discouraged as a dangerous watering down of the faith. Catholic education was emphasized. Parish missions were encouraged. Catholic newspapers were started. There was an exhortation to evangelize the newly freed slaves.

Twenty years later when the bishops met again. The Baltimore Catechism and parochial schools shaped subsequent generations of Catholics. (A show of hands in our chapel should the vast majority of Maryknollers had studied the Baltimore Cathechism.) Catholic Sisters who had nursed Civil War wounded helped eleviate some suspicion of Catholics. Although hundreds of new congregations arose in the later 19th century, Sisters and Brothers were still considered "auxiliaries" to priests.

Price's birth in 1860 sets his formative years in the rural south (North Carolina) through the Civil War and Reconstruction eras when antiCatholicism was rampant. The appointment of the "northerner" (Maryland) Bishop Gibbons gave means to explain Catholicism, especially our veneration of the Blessed Virgin.

In 1896 the Paulists formed the Catholic Missionary Union and Thomas Price joined. The conversion of Americans to Catholicisms was their goal.

The experience of Catholics in the North was quite different. Riots broke out after the Emancipation Proclamation because immigrant workers feared Blacks would take away their jobs. Bishops encouraged priests to actively suppress any "fractious" gatherings.

James A. Walsh's birth in 1867 has him growing up in a majority Irish community with growing, German, Canadian, Italian, Polish and Portuguese populations---with subsequent tensions. (James E. Walsh considered James A. a "Boston Brahmen".) Bostonian Protestants held an exposition to encourage mission outreach to all the nations represented in these foreign communities. World evangelization was in the air that James A. breathed.

Protestant missionary efforts became a prod to ignite Catholic mission zeal.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Some sad news

I apologize for having to break my erstwhile cyber-silence with some sad news.

Fr. Larry Lewis informed us at supper tonight that Mrs. Helen Tandy passed away suddenly this afternoon of an apparent heart attack following hip surgery from which she was in recovery and taking physical therapy.

Many of you know Helen who worked at Maryknoll for many, many years and even in retirement, often filled in at our reception desk. She was truly part of our Maryknoll family. I remember Helen from my seminary days, and her home was a refuge for us beleaguered seminarians.

We offer her husband Bob our deepest sympathy and prayers.

I'm BAAAck! (A quick update!)

Contrary to nothing, no, I haven't been silenced. Rather, I have been
A) Away on a ten-day cruise to the southern Caribbean and therefore incommunicado from the goings on here at the Knoll
B) Crazy busy with last minute details for today's official Centennial Opening Liturgy
C) Exhausted

D) All the above!

Now that we have successfully completed the liturgy and I have napped all afternoon, I can once again take up my blogging duties!

Let's start with today and work backwards. About 400 attended the opening Mass (with at least 65 concelebrant priests in the sanctuary, wearing the new stoles Fr. Joy Tajonera was kind enough to physically deliver from the Philippines!)

The service was preceded by the enhance of all 42 flags of the places Maryknollers have served over the last century. Fr. Bob Jalbert announced the country and year as each flag was carried up the main aisle, then set in special stands at the outside end of each pew. The timpani dramatically accentuated the tempo. More than one person expressed surprise at how emotional the scene was.

Then the liturgical procession entered from the back with Fr. Joe LaMar in the role of thurifer, Br. Kevin Dargan carrying the Maryknoll cross (containing the relics of Frs.Walsh & Price, Br. Tom McCann and Maryknoll Lay Missioner Joe Honerkamp.) Deacon Rodrigo Ulloa-Chavarry bore the Book of the Gospels to the altar.

The entrance hymn was the Glory to God from the Missa ad Gentes. The Choir (of about some 40 Sisters, Fathers, employees and neighbors) was superbly directed once again by Ms. Lucille Naughton. In addition to timpani, other orchestration included violin, electric cello, trumpets, coronets, flute and kanga, which are like bongos on steroids.

Fr. Ed Doughtery was main celebrant and gave a real barn-burner of a homily. Yes, it may have been 30+ minutes long, but it was well written, well delivered and well received. I shall post it in the near future.

BTW, the entire celebration was broadcast to the men in St.T's by our own Channel 15, thanks to the able camera work of Ms. Kathy Brophy and Ms. Maureen Touhey in the control room. Overflow crowd in the Spellman Room was able to watch on a huge screen. Since they got to see close-ups, they in fact got a better view of things. Former Maryknoll lay missioner Mr. Mike Lavery who works for the archdiocesan communications department has been hired to video all three Centennial Masses.

After the Mass, everyone was invited to a wonderful luncheon of chicken cordon blue and roast vegetable ravioli. The Maryknollers and outside guests went to the dining room and Founders Room; Maryknoll employees dined in the Asia/Africa Rooms. Our people from Sodexo really outdid themselves both with food preparation and presentation.

Among the guests was a delegation from St. Paul's Korean parish in Queens, including the mother of Fr. Alphonso Kim. They presented Maryknoll with a lovely Korean statue of Our Lady. The Ossining Fire Chief also presented Maryknoll with a beautiful plaque honoring our 100 years in mission. Fr. Dougherty has suggested getting a special display case for these and other tributes.

As my fatigue once again creeps up on me, I shall end today's post with acknowledging those Maryknollers who came from afar to be with us today: Fr. Jerry O'Connor, from Korea; Fr. Jim Najmowski, from China; Fr. John Sivalon, from University of Scranton; Fr. Joe McCabe, from Rockville Centre; and the aforementioned Fr. Joy Tajonera, from Taiwan and Rev. Mr. Rodeo Ulloa-Chavarry, from Chicago.


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Happy Centennial!

Kicking off our official unofficial beginning of our 100th Year, Fr. Jim Madden and Mr. Fred Goddard presented a Food for Thought presentation on the history of the Maryknoll Affiliates, Then and Now.

Jim helped design the Affiliates program back in 1991. Fred is the current head of the Affiliates. 2011 is the Afflilates 20th anniversary.

In the 1970s and 1980s, many former Maryknoll P, B, S & LMs communicated with one another and wanted to maintain contact with and support for Maryknoll. Sr. Ellen McDonald expressed interest and the Maryknoll Sisters gave her permission to help. Early on, global vision, spirituality, community and action became the four pillars of the program. The chapters are called Basic Mission Communities. They follow the Pax Christi motto of Think Globally, Act Locally. Twenty two affiliate chapters started in the first year. Twenty of the 22 original groups lasted more than three years.

A chapter needs a minimum of four members and three meetings a year. They pay all their expenses. The Society and Congregation help pay fir the director's salary and expenses. Other priests, Brothers, Sisters and lay Missioners joined the governing board. In 1995 the Affiliates accepted overseas chapters. Jim and Ellen stepped aside to let the Affiliates direct the program while they remained as support staff.They have an international gathering every two years. Jack Moynahan took Jim's place and Fr. Jack Sullivan took his place. Fred Goddard was later hired as Director. Regional Coordinators now visit their local chapters.

Their publication is called "Not So Far Afield" (Get it?)

Schools and Youth Groups have formed following the high school in Red Bank, New Jersey, so now there are student groups supporting mission.

More and more Affiliates (almost 30%) have also gone to mission overseas in Namibia and Cambodia, among other places, and work through Maretta McKenna and the Short-Term Volunteer programs.

There are now Affiliate Chapters in Tanzania, Peru, Nicaragua, Mexico, Guatemala and the Philippines. Prior to his death, Fr. Tom Goekler helped establish the chapter in Guatemala. Members of that group helped revitalize the almost defunct chapter in Connecticut. Reverse Mission at it's best!

From the beginning, the Affiliates were ecumenical and inter-religious. A minister was inspired by the witness of the four churchwomen in El Salvador. A Jewish doctor has volunteered his services to help the Sisters overseas.

A 12-session (one year) formation program has been created to help introduce new Affiliates to the Maryknoll charism and history.

There are approximately 62 chapters around the world.