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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Brothers' Food for Thought

About forty Maryknollers and employees gathered in the Asia room over lunch to hear Br. John Blazo and Br. Alex Walsh speak of the charism and history of the Auxiliary Brothers of St. Michael, i.e. the Maryknoll Brothers. This was the second Food for Thought program held in conjunction with our Centenary celebration, the first being last January 24 on the Fathers.

John ran down a quick history of how the Brothers slowly developed from being strictly auxiliaries whose sole job was to help the "real" missioners (the priests) do their mission work to being missioners in their own right.

Brothers cooked, cleaned, did carpentry, physical plant and electrical work at various Maryknoll facilities around the country. Br. Alex Walsh, who celebrated his 50th anniversary last Sunday, took hotel management courses which soon made him an invaluable asset both here and in Latin America where bookkeeping and dietician planning were in great demand.

The growing prospects for World War II saw a suspension of Brother applicants, since they were (and are) technically not religious but rather a group of celibate laymen. Vatican II saw another moratorium of Brother candidates for about three years as the Society wanted to re-examin the Brothers' role in light of the changes following the Council.

Alex proudly pointed to the Amanacer program for street boys in Bolivia which the Brothers built up from scratch and successfully helped many youth to get an education and turn their lives around. Br. Dave McKenna and Br. Al Patrick were both instrumental in making Amanacer a success.

In the Q & A that followed, Ms. Marge Gaughan, managing editor of MARYKNOLL magazine, shared her story of interviewing Br. Gene Caspar, who worked in the Philippines. He said he got involved in peace and justice work after he noticed there were far too many children dying there due to poverty.

Fr. Dan Dolan paid tribute to the many Brothers whose service over the years built and maintained countless buildings here and overseas, even in China, thus saving the Society millions and making our mission work possible.

Ms. Linda Guerra from Treasury expressed gratitude for the many Brothers, such as Br. Don Miriani and Br. Adrian Mazuchowski, who have helped with our finances over the years.

Br. Kevin Dargan, who now works in our library, is Maryknoll's answer to Google, at least when Society history is concerned. He has compiled two volumes of research on the Maryknoll Brothers. Most recently, he has decorated our dining room with archival photographs of Maryknollers around the world over the years to commemorate our Centenary.

Fr. Dennis Moorman, formerly our vocation director, reports an upswing in inquiries into the Brothers by young men hoping to be missioners.

(I hope to upload pix shortly---the hard way. The problem still hasn't been fixed.)

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