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.