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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Fat Tuesday & Bethany

Maryknoll welcomed 35 members of the U.N. Faith Decade for Peace committee, giving us a truly international flavor matched only by the 43 national flags currently in the Spellman room. Add to this the colorful national costumes warn by our visitors: Korean hanbok, African kanzu, Seikh turban and , of course, Jewish yarmulka, and for a few days the Knoll really does look like a place of prayer for all peoples.

Tonight, of course, was Mardi Gras and once again the Sodexo staff outdid itself with food, refreshments and decorations. There were plenty of beads and balloons to go around, New Orleans jazz music and even a King Cake. Tomorrow's Ash Wednesday Mass will be in the main chapel, since many employees also attend.

Now for the good stuff! (You really didn't expect me to confine my comments to banalities, did you?)

Work in refurbishing the Walsh building for its next incarnation as the lay mission offices continues apace, with their trainees to be housed here and at the Sisters'. This, of course, begs the question: what's to become of Bethany, now that ownership has reverted to the Society?

To bring Bethany up to code with much-needed repairs and remodeling would cost a cool $4 million, says someone in a position to know.

Another knowledgeable person opines it would be easier and more economical to level the place and build from scratch.

At this point I chimed in and suggested a retreat house might be nice, given that more and more retirees are moving into our Center, which might soon render our place impractical for groups larger than ten.

This is where it gets intriguing. Nowhere in our Constitutions does it say a Maryknoller has a right to live here at the Knoll, but only that the Society owes its members a place to stay. Above mentioned knowledgeable person suggested we might put a limit on the number of retired members living here at the Center. And lest that sound extreme, if not Draconian, he pointed out that the Paris Foreign Mission Society FORBIDS its retired members from living at their headquarters in Paris. If you live at their Center, you must have a job. They do have two houses in the south of France for their retirees.

Now, given that they are our spiritual forebears, might we consider emulating them? Let me be the first to propose a compromise: a limited number of retirees can live here as long as we also buy a house for our retirees in the south of France. Or Italy. Or Hawaii. (Hey, if we can rebuy a house in Washington, why not check out the real estate in Honolulu?)

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