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Monday, March 21, 2011

Asian invasion?

Well, it seems that the residents once again survived 45+ Korean-American high school students and teachers from St. Paul's in Queens last weekend attending a workshop here without too many glitches. Oh sure, their praise band drumming and strumming after 11:30 p.m. did awaken some guys, but he politely asked them to be quiet and they were, for the most part. And a few other students forgot the rule about closing their doors quietly and not running down the halls, especially at 2 a.m.

Perhaps the biggest snafu was we forget about the quantities of food teenagers can pack away. Luckily, we adhered to the policy of not descending on the food line until 30 minutes after it opens. This allows Members to get their desired portion of spaghetti and ice cream. To be fair, the kids were very good about not wasting food, but, yes, they can eat!

Many thanks to Fr. Stephen Taluja who gave them a talk and helped with confessions, as did Fr. Kevin Hanlon. And thanks too to Br. Kevin Dargan for helping prepare hot water for the late snack of Ramen noodles after the students were shriven.

While the students and teachers enjoy coming to the Knoll, I'm wondering whether it's worth the √°gita for all concerned. We had to hold back on the number of participants because of a rule somewhere that says we have to cut back on the number of participants. That is, we have rooms to accommodate as many as 60 but I was told no more than 45 could attend. Luckily, some agreed to day-hop. Also, due to insurance liabilities, the students were told not to use our gym again, even though they bring a certificate of insurance covering an aggregate of $2 million. For the record, Graymoor requires no such certificate; neither does Marian Shrine that also has a gym. A tired student is a quiet student! Also, St. Josaphat's in Oyster Bay is a stand-alone building where noise or numbers are not an issue.

My thinking for bringing them to the Knoll was that it was an opportunity for the students to visit and learn more about Maryknoll, but I'm afraid what they may be learning might not help matters. (For the other record, Fr. Alfonso Kim came from this parish as did Seminarian Dae Wook KIm, currently on OTP in Bolivia. In addition, five young men from the parish who were at this weekend's workshop have expressed interest in attending the Holy Week retreat here for vocations.)

It seems that, with the growing number of retirees moving to the Center, it may no longer be feasible for the foreseeable future to have large groups stay over. This underscores the need once again to consider what to do with Bethany. Between the Koreans, the Haitians, the Vietnamese and the Hispanic communities, we should have little trouble keeping the place occupied. Provided of course we spring for the big bucks to bring the building up to code.

Or perhaps we should revisit the whole idea of limiting the number of retirees who live at the Center, and those that do, living in places other than the R-Wing. This had been the suggestion when we remodeled, but some R-Wing residents didn't want to relocate. As a result, retreatants are scattered among the residents on all the floors and wings and the potential for noise and disruptions increases. Why not close off the R-wing to residents via attrition? That is, once a permanent resident vacates a room in the R-Wing, it remains available only to outside guests?

Or we can take the opposite approach and simply become a retirement home with only a few rooms for guests.

Just like last year when there was a similar noise disruption, the Korean student workshop ended yesterday with the disturbors of the peace making the rounds during lunch time to apologize to Maryknollers. Of course, by that time, only three tables of missioners remained and those who were there weren't the ones whose sleep had been disturbed. Luckily, the Maryknoll Grapevine is such that I trust word will spread around the Knoll fast enough.

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