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Friday, September 30, 2011

Civil vs. ecclesial disobedience

Picture it: March 19 (St. Joseph's Day), 1970. I and 16 other members of the War Resisters League were arrested blocking the Selective Service Office building in Albany, NY, to protest the war in Vietnam. We would henceforth be referred to in the Albany Times Union as "The Albany 17." My claim to fame was captured in the article as, "One youth sustained a bloody nose."

I raise this specter of the 60s to clarify my understanding of what civil disobedience entails: you see an injustice, you selectively and peacefully break a law, you take the punishment and you hope this focuses attention on the original injustice.

I also raise this to help myself clarify my own very conflicting emotions surrounding Fr. Roy Bourgoise and his precent predicament vis-a-vis the Vatican and Maryknoll.

Before espousing the cause of women's ordinations in the Roman Catholic Church, Roy made a name for himself as the founder of the School of the Americas (Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation) Watch in Fort Benning, GA. SOAW contends many of the more notorious tyrants and murderers of church people of Latin America are graduates of the school and it should therefore be closed.

Each year near the anniversary of the killings of the six Jesuits and their housekeeper and her daughter (November 16, 1989) by graduates of the SOA, tens of thousands of protesters, most of them young people, carrying coffins and crosses bearing the names of the thousands killed or disappeared in Central America, demonstrate outside the gates of Fort Benning. The demonstration culminates in some people intentionally "crossing the line" onto the base and therefore breaking the law. They INTENTIONALLY break the law to get arrested to focus media and, hopefully, the country's attention on the anomaly of having such a base on U.S. soil and supported by U.S. taxpayers.

Roy himself was arrested many times in the past and spent four years in federal prisons, often in solitary confinement (I guess so his presence doesn't corrupt the other prisoners). The judge made it crystal clear that should Roy get arrested again, he's going away for a long, long time. Subsequently, Roy has not "crossed the line", at least civilly.

Which brings us to ecclesial disobedience. Roy knew he was crossing the line by participating in an attempted ordination of a woman. And the punishment he incurred was excommunication. By continuing to speak out publicly on this topic, he now runs the real risk of dismissal from Maryknoll.

I understand Roy's case is now before the Congregation for the Evangelization of the Peoples to decide whether or not the dismissal from Maryknoll is warranted.

Them's the facts.

What I still don't understand is, why fight the consequences of an action designed to provoke precisely these consequences?

Roy's "street cred" in the forefront of the women priests movement is enhanced by his excommunication and pending dismissal from Maryknoll. Forever he will be presented as a priest who paid the price for his solidarity with women.

Thanks to erroneous reports in no less a paper as the New York Times, most people think Roy has already been dismissed, even though the process has not played out. Maryknoll has paid the price amongst many erstwhile supporters, even though Fr. Dougherty, our superior, told me specifically, that Maryknoll would continue its financial and medical support of Roy no matter what.

What is to be gained by either side in interminably prolonging this process?


On a related topic, Fr. Ray Finch, up from Cochabamba, Bolivia, to attend the various centennial gatherings and upcoming mission symposium at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, reports a development in women's ability to become Yatiri (native healers) among the Aymara in the altiplano. Many people may not be aware that the Yatiri in Bolivia, Peru and Chile face the strictest selection standards in the world. To become a healer, one must be struck by lightning——and survive. Most do not, Ray says. But the interesting point is that for the first time, WOMEN who survive a lightning strike are being accepted as Yatiri!

Ah, but the Buddhists of Thailand have gone this one better, according to Br. John Beeching. Since it is against the law to harm a monk in this predominantly Buddhist country, to protect the endangered forests from loggers, the monks ordained the trees! And it worked! Loggers refused to lay a hand (or a saw) on these consecrated trees.

In fairness, though, I must confess we don't know the gender of these pious plants.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

St. Michael's Day

Community members gather after Mass this afternoon for a special happy hour and meal in honor of St. Michael, patron of the Maryknoll Brothers. Men interested in joining may inquiry at

Happy Birthday, Margie!

Ms. Margie Elliott Sheehan, food service manager, and her twin sister Cathy, get a surprise birthday party by Maryknollers and employees. Cathy is 50, but Margie's age is a secret.

Great food, friends, family and fun!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The choice is ours

Roman Missile

As the above photo shows, publishing houses are vying for our business with the new edition of the Roman Missal that will replace the soon-to-be-suppressed Sacramentary starting this Advent. Maryknollers are invited to check out the nine samples on display in the Spellman Room and select which version they like best. Editions vary from the very elaborate and ornate tomes going for $500+ to the humbler, no frills versions for $89. And several in between. The liturgy committee will then buy several copies for the many chapels in our Center. Individual Maryknollers may also order a personal copy for retreats and private home Masses (assuming these will still be allowed).

You laugh? Have you checked out what the diocese of Phoenix is implementing in the not-yet-determined future? They are curtailing the number of times Communion under both species may be offered to the laity. You may read their official document here: as well as read their reasoning, among which is that too frequent Communion under both species risks the Sacrament becoming "commonplace." Google it for yourself, and read the blogosphere which is all abuzz with not-so-positive reactions.

You may read one such blog here:

One blogger speculated that by drastically decreasing the number of times the laity receive the Precious Blood, they effectively eliminate the need for so many Extraordinary Ministers cluttering up the aisles. First came the return of kneeling during the consecration; can altar rails be far behind?

To be fair, I don't know of many parishes that offered Communion under both kinds on a regular, let alone weekly basis. And special occasions (weddings, funerals, retreats) are exempt, as are religious houses.

Coincidentally (?), Eucharistic Adoration is enjoying a come-back. This succeeds in putting the pesky laity back in their place in the bleachers, as the Eucharist once again becomes a passive spectator sport. Surely somewhere in the Dead Sea Scrolls, (now available online!) Jesus must have actually said, "Take and stare at this; this is my Body. And don't even think of drinking my Blood except on rare occasions outlined in your diocesan directory." Of course, Jesus said all this in Aramaic and God only knows what Jesus really meant.

On a sadly tangential note: last week at a meeting of Directors of Religious Education in the diocese of Brooklyn, auxiliary Bishop Frank Caggiano mentioned how one of the oldest extant chalices in the Vatican museum is made of glass and dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The bishop was visibly moved by the theology that maintained the vessel was secondary to its precious contents. As Mary let the divine presence shine through her flesh into that of her Son, so too did this transparent chalice focus attention on its most holy contents. Then he added, almost wistfully, "Of course, nowadays this wouldn't be allowed."

I suggested to Fr. Leo Shea, Coordinator for All Centenary Committees, that among the artifacts we are considering putting into the Centenary Time Capsule, we might include the Sacramentary which passes into oblivion this November. Wouldn't that be divine justice if, in 50+ years, the people open the capsule and see how Mass was done in the later half of the 20th Century? They might rise up and demand that their female bishops return to the Traditional Vatican II Mass in English and forgo praying the liturgy in Latin.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Haitian Day (finally!)

After first canceling because of Hurricane Irene and then being unable to find enough buses the following Labor Day weekend, the annual Haitian Day at Maryknoll is finally happening!

Prayers bombarded heaven this week as the weatherman threatened not just rain but deluge. It did pour last night, and today it is overcast, but no rain is predicted for today. The sun may even peak through. The temperatures are in the mid 70s, so it's perfect for this type of outdoor event. An estimated 500 people will attend for prayers, talks, Mass and even a procession with a statue of Our Lady of Maryknoll.

Maryknoll Fr. Romane St. Vil coordinates this yearly gathering from among the Haitian communities from as far away as Staten Island and Long Island.

Many thanks to Maryknoll Father Ed Szendrey for sending in this photo.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Bishop Pardy's Cremated Remains to be transferred

Tomorrow at 11:00 a.m. in the St. Joseph Chapel on the second floor, Father Mike Zunno will gather with the family of Bishop James Pardy (d. 1983) to offer Mass as the urn containing his cremated remains is escorted to Cheong Ju, Korea for reinterment.

As a point of clarification from the initial blog on this subject (Aug. 9, 2011), the Pardy family was not involved with the decision to cremate. When Fr. Dougherty received the request from the Cheong Ju diocese to have the bishop's remains exhumed and transported back to the diocese he founded, Fr. Dougherty phoned the family and got their permission. The topic of cremation did not arise.

As the project unfolded, the Society realized there was a huge amount of paperwork, permissions and expense involved to transport human remains across international borders, so it was decided that cremation would best facilitate this process. Regrettably, the family was not informed of this and only learned of it by reading Knollnews. The family asked that a clarification be made, stating they had only given permission for the exhumation and transferal of the remains and were not consulted or involved with the decision to cremate.

Maryknoll sincerely apologizes for any hurt or confusion this may have caused.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Your guess is as good as mine

So there I was, walking Hopi through the path in our lower woods yesterday afternoon as is our daily wont, when a flash caught my eye. There, affixed to a tree about 20 feet from the path, was a motion-activated camera. Odd place for a security camera, I thought to myself, since no one had reported stolen leaves or tree limbs. So I called physical plant.

Mr. Al Vitiello arrived on the scene and once again, the camera flashed. He didn't know who had put it there or why. A call to our security office quickly ruled them out as the owners of the camera. Two remaining suspects, as it were, would be Fr. John Hudert who is known to frequent this sylvan glade throughout the year, whether to trim the undergrowth or cross-country ski; or our former chef who is an avid bow-and-arrow huntsman this time of year and may be staking out a position for future prey. In any event, 24 hours have past and we have yet to identify the camera's owner. (Could THIS be the Scotch tape on the door of a latter-day Watergate?)

Meanwhile, continueing my walk Hopi and I happened upon this sight in our lower cemetery:

My first guess was that this is a grave for someone's pet boa constrictor. But Al explained that after 30 some-odd years, it has been decided to put in proper drainage for this level. (Talk about "Ewwww" factor.) We aways knew the water table at this section was inordinately high, but with recent rains, and several more days of deluge expected this week, it was agreed that this unintended burial at sea need no longer put a damper on things, so to speak. (For the curious and less squeamish among you, Google "saponification.")

In other news....

Tomorrow's much hyped KNOLLSTOCK (Employees & Knollers picnic) which this year, as the title suggests, has a 60s theme, complete with bellbottoms, long hair and tie-died shirts (although I suspect other more, shall we say, psychotropic aromas shall be regrettably eschewed) HAS BEEN POSTPONED TILL NEXT THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 29th, due to the aforementioned heavy rains. This is particularly ironic, since the original Woodstock was, in fact, held in the pouring rain with everything and everyone covered in mud.

Then again, maybe the 60s theme is simply acknowledging that we aging hippies are now in our 60s.

You know what they say about the 1960s: if you can remember them, you weren't there.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Where's Alice? (or yet another Moment of Zen)

One trip down the rabbit hole I failed to mention last week in all the hullabaloo, was the Primary election that wasn't.

Since we are our own election precinct (so as not to unduly influence local elections with our preponderance of registered Democrats), the equipment was set up in our Spellman Room last Tuesday to allow for voting.

Several awkwardnesses arose. First, the funeral of Br. Jude Conniff took place that day, necessitating the rolling out of his coffin right through the polling place. (Wait till the Board of Elections hears about that!)

Second, it turns out one had to be a REGISTERED Independent to vote, since no other parties' candidates were contested. Upon inquiry I learned there are a grand total of six registered Independents here, as opposed to about 30 Republicans and 123 Democrats. (I understand the Right to Life party died.)

Third, they apparently sent the wrong ballots here, so for the first several hours no one could vote because we had the ballots from the town of Cortlandt.

Lastly, at the end of the day, I asked the four poll monitors how many of the six had actually voted. Ready? Zero!

Well, all was not a complete waste of time as these civic-minded citizens got to read ALL of our literature and pamphlets while waiting for Godot to vote.


Monday, September 19, 2011


Granted I was only back to the Knoll by suppertime Monday, but the reactions from the troops to the prayer petition to petition (the General Council on behalf of Fr.Roy Bourgeois) during the closing Mass on Saturday were as follows:

"Totally inappropriate."


"Disrespectful in the extreme."

"A pageant of Narcissists."

"Why didn't he (Episcipalian priest, Fr. Frank Alagna) do this at any other time during the weekend?"

At least one Maryknoller walked out during the incident.

To be fair, several Maryknollers surely must have agreed or otherwise approved this action (The petition during Mass). If there are, they have yet to inform me of their support.

And to be honest, not all the negative reactions came from just the elderly and the conservatives among us. One guy way younger than I (by almost 20 years) and at least as liberal, was incensed.

If I could gauge the rage, it seemed more at the fact that this took place during the Eucharist, and was led by someone no longer in Maryknoll, that seemed to fry people's rice most.

In the coming meals I shall make a concerted effort to find supporters of the petition, if not its timing, so you may have a more balanced reaction. Assuming there is one.

One older Maryknoller took it all with a grain of salt and put the onus on Superior General Ed Dougherty for interminably drawing out this process. "Get on with it, already," he said.

Another member added, "We didn't abandon Roy; he abandoned us." He's contemplating writing a letter to the highest authority with the greatest influence (No, not the Vatican; the National Catholic Reporter) petitioning Roy to publicly apologize for what he's doing to Maryknoll.

Happy Centennary!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Mass hi-jacked?

Word reached me from multiple sources even down in Queens that there was an incident during the closing liturgy for the Maryknoll Alumni weekend.

The first sign that something was up was when the prayers of the faithful went on longer than the homily. Among them was one asking Maryknoll to "do the right thing" in regards to Fr. Bourgeois and not dismiss him from the Society.

But things really got interesting post Communion, when, instead of the normal announcements one would hear at a parish Mass about upcoming rummage sales and pot-luck suppers, former Maryknoller and now Episcopalian priest, Father Frank Alagna stood up and announced a signature drive to petition the General Council on behalf of Roy. He invited people to sign after Mass during supper.

Fr. Leo Shea, the main celebrant, took this in stride and even used the opportunity to read a letter to the assembly he had received from Roy, expressing his regrets for not being able to attend. Roy also asked all not to forget the lessons they all learned at Maryknoll and that at times like these, it is necessary to break the silence and raise one's voice on behalf of justice.

The steering committee seemed as blind-sided by this as others were. So far, the reactions I heard went from shock to outrage, but like I said, I will have to wait till I get back to the salad bar on Monday to gauge the real reactions.

Thus, the elephant did not even have to be in the room to dominate the discussion and have the last word.

Who knows? Maybe more people will want to start attending Mass at Marykmoll. You never know what might happen.

Mass at last

Since I am away from Mother Knoll most weekends from Friday evening till Monday morning, I rely on other sources for important info that might transpire in my absence. To that end, I am grateful to Fr. Ed Szendrey for pointing out that the very successful Alumni weekend will culminate with a liturgy, i.e. Mass in Queen of Apostles Chapel.

It was good to see so many friends from years past, and greater still to have our halls bristling with life, laughter and enthusiasm. Kudos to Mr. Dave Brown and all his committee for all their time, dedication and hard work in putting this weekend together.

It is extremely edifying to be reminded that the Maryknoll spirit is not confined to these walls and continues long after men are no longer in Maryknoll. This is about as smooth a segue as I can muster for another posting on "The Situation."

I was among five people cc-ed a cancellation from a local college who had reserved space here as in years past for their annual youth ministry workshop. They cited that after prayerful consideration, they could not condone Maryknoll's "abuse of Fr. Roy." This has been the only group to cancel because of L'Affaire Bourgeois.

Meanwhile, Fr. Pete. Ruggere sent me the following letter to be posted on this blog:

Sent: 8/25/2011 6:34:31 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time
Subj: Fwd: Roy you are in good company
Hello Joe,
Could this be put on the Knollnews blog? Thanks.
Pete Ruggere

To: info@soaw.or
Sent: 8/25/2011 6:29:58 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time
Subj: Roy you are in good company
Hello Roy,
In this  very difficult time for you I hope this will be a consolation.
When St. Thomas More was on trial for his life, he had to chose between publicly recanting his beliefs or death by beheading, he said:
 " things touching conscience, every true and good subject is more bound to have respect for his said conscience and to his soul than to any other thing in all the world beside." 
(source:  Ackroyd, Peter   The Life of Thomas More, Doubleday, 1998)
Pete Ruggere MM



Friday, September 16, 2011

Ecumenical and interreligeous vespers

In lieu of a Roman Catholic Eucharistic liturgy, (a.k.a. Mass) which one person was overheard as considering "too Christocentic" (?!), the Maryknoll Alumni gathered this afternoon for a prayer service in remembrance of all deceased classmates.

The service will include Protestant, Buddhist, Sufi and Jewish, and Native American elements, among others. This may strike some as odd until you remember 1) This is taking place at Maryknoll, NY; 2) Many former Maryknollers have not only left the priesthood and brotherhood, they have left the Catholic Church and 3) Many have continued ministry in other Churches, notably Lutheran, United Church of Christ and Episcopalian.

The singing of "Dona nobis pacem" gave this a certain "Requiem for the 1960s" feel.

In that light, there is something about this prayer service that is quintessentially Maryknoll.

Sic transit gloria Maryknoll

The outdoor tennis and basketball courts have seen better decades.

Where AYSO and IBM once played, the soccer field, though not decrepit and overgrown, stands idle due to over-vigilant lawyers and insurers.

Twenty-five years ago, instead of renovating our indoor pool to bring it up to code so elderly missioners might use it, it was converted into a half gym which no Maryknollers now use.

The Walsh Building transition to the new HQ of the Maryknoll Lay Missioners in exchange for the Bethany property has been put in unexplained abeyance.

Some members see increased security measures as further limitations on freedom.

We have much to mourn.

Sent from my most excellent

Art exhibit

Artist Monique Cerundolo

The artist speaks with Fr. Jim Madden, vocations director, former MKer Bill Gilligan, former MLM Bob Short. Fr. Ken Thesing is in the foreground.

A meditation on grief & hope

Dedicated to the memory of deceased Maryknoll alumni, especially Fr.Steve DeMott, "faithful friend," artist and chaplain Monique Cerundolo, of Boston, tells a gathering of alumni how important it is to acknowledge and celebrate our losses. These may be in the form of closing of institutions, schools and other apostolates where we may have spent important parts of our life.

We in Maryknoll have much to mourn. And only in healthy mourning will we pass safely over to a future of hope.

Orbis power houses

Mr. Robert Ellsberg, Orbis executive director, chats with Ambassador Diaz prior to the presentation.

Ambassador Miguel Diaz speaks

His Excellency, Miguel Humberto Diaz, U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, (and 4X Orbis author) addressed the alumni gathering. Ms. Marie Dennis, head of the Maryknoll Office of Global Concerns introduced Tom Quigley, long-time advisor to the U.S. bishops conference on justice issues and Latin America, who introduced Ambassador Diaz.

A summary of Diaz's remarks:

On behalf of President Barack Obama, he congratulated the Maryknoll Society on our Centennary.

It surprises many people that a U.S. Ambassador speaks so many languages. This is just one example of change we can believe in.

Maryknollers are agents of such change. Just as Our Lady of Guatalupe appeared on a hill in Mexico that the good news might go out to all in Latin America, so too from Mary's Knoll, 50 kilometers north of NYC, the message of Jesus goes forth to the poor and marginalized around the world.

But oneness is not to be confused with sameness, and we should take care not to further isolate already marginalized people.

America's motto: E pluribus, unum. Out of many one. Issues of justice and peace often confront problems that arise from our perceived differences. We all work for the common good, that celebrates diversity. The pursuit of the common good cannot be separated from work on behalf of justice.

The on-going displacement of people's (more than 200,000,000 by U.N. estimates) shows the urgent need to overcome our differences. In the catholicity of the Church, we have witnessed E Pluribus, Unum.

President Obama underscores that America is a rich tapestry of diversity, with mutual interdependent and diverse parts. Policies and practices should not force undividuals to exist on islands of isolation.

If you want to cultivate peace, protect creation, to the benefit and service of the common good. We need a new way of seeing to recognize differences and still celebrate diversity.

We must acknowledge that people can experience multiple belongings: ethnic, cultural, racial and religious. Our desire to be One must not be at the cost of exclusion of others.

Fear of others and their otherness has been a pathology that has infected humans for millennia. Otherness is constitutive of unity, not a consequence of unity.

The Christian notion of the unity of the human race takes its inspiration from the Trinity. The Maryknoll family is familiar with contemporary understandings of the human person. You responsibly embrace the differences in others. We are, by nature and by faith, missionary beings, oriented toward reaching out to others different than ourselves precisely to realize the underlying unity of the human race.

Being American and Catholic has enabled Maryknoll to respect human differences as you live out the best of our world, our nation and our church.

Diplomats and religious leaders need each other to help translate our message of peace and justice and mutuality into understandable terms that people different than ourselves can understand.

This was the miracle of Guadalupe; this is the mission of Maryknoll.

I invite all of you here, all Maryknollers, and myself into translating the message of peace into all the diverse languages and symbols of all the cultures of the world.

Maryknollers have committed their lives to this vision. Your ability to live and work in all cultures around the world often exceeds our government's ability to reach the poorest and most in need.

God bless Maryknoll; God bless the United States of America.

Gene Kennedy speaks

"We happy few, we band of brothers...." With these words from Henry V, Gene saluted Maryknoll as more a family than an institution. A sampling of his comments:

More seminaries were built in the 1960s than in all previous decades in the United States. Now most and closed, empty or sorely underused. Priest postpone retirement, although they aren't going anywhere to do anything.

The future is spread all about us, just like the Kingdom of God. We don't wait for Godot; we are living in the future. The origins of the word "future" are related to the verbs "to be" and "to build." It signifies to grow. The future invites us to build a neighborhood in which all can can dwell.

We have lived through the "End of the World", not some cosmic incineration or Rapture, but in the mystical and sacramental sense. The world ends every day. The old world with its limitations has ended. The new world of limitless communications and technology is upon us and in this world we must live.

Old institutions, including the Church, are under attack. They no longer hold their energy or meaning for many. These developments were prophesied, in a way, by poets such as Yates ("Things fall apart, the center cannot hold.") And artists such a Picasso, where time itself seems to melt.

The future may seem strange, even alien. Maryknoll trained us to let go of the present and past, and cross into this future. Even as we speak, a robot continues to trudge across the surface of Mars, sampling and sending signals back to Earth. Two weeks ago, a rocket launched a probe called Juno to Jupitor. The oldest planet, it contains more material than all other planets combined. It is the Rosetta Stone of our solar system. And scientists rightly call this a "mission to Jupitor."

Pope John XXIII challenged the church to end its self-imposed exile and move out into the world. "Providence is drawing us into a new order of relationships of high expectation," the pope said. Soon after, the first pictures of Earth seen from the moon confirmed the vision of the Second Vatican Council: one fragile and beautiful world in which we must all live together. The Earth was not separated from the heavens, as had been believed for millennia; It was in the heavens. Gone, the concept of a hierarchical universe.

The human person can no longer be understood hierarchically, as a soul, spirit and body at war with itself. Human sexuality was tolerated at best, clothed with wedding garments so as to continue repoducing children. Earthrise as seen from the moon demanded an integrated view of the human person as much as of the Earth. In space there are no ups, downs or even center.

G.K. Chesterson said the ordinary progressive position is that the universe is good, although it may get worse. Chesterton maintained the universe is good, even if it gets worse.

Asked why he had convened the Second Vatican Council, Pope John said, "So that people's journey on Earth may be less sad."

Harrison Salisbury, NY Times correspondent in the 1960s attended Midnight Mass one Christmas Eve at St. Peter's in Rome. Although a Protesrant, he declared it the center of the spiritual energy of the world.

We are gathered in the place Maryknoll calls the Center. It's where many live and from which many go out.

The Church can neither stave off nor avoid the space information age, as it struggles to remain the Center of a world that no longer exists. The new world has no center.

The priest abuse scandal was not a byproduct of the sexual revelution, but of the hierarchical model of power, preference and privilege that was the raw material of clericalism, the latter becoming the breeding ground for the sexual abuse of those younger and weaker.

The problem cannot be cured by a hierarchical system, since the bishops exempted themselves from the reforms. The scandals arose, not because of bad priests or bad bishops, but because of an ineffectively managed hierarchical system. The majority of good bishops today certainly cannot reinvigorate and reimpose the hierarchical model of church, no matter how many parishes reintroduce Perpetual Adoration. The center has not shifted, it has evaporated.

If any group is ready to face life in the information age, it's Maryknoll. Maryknollers are ready to make a journey at a moment's notice. The vision of Vatican II resonates in these halls.

This gathering at Maryknoll this weekend shows the spirit of Maryknoll, the spirit of Vatican II, extends far beyond Maryknoll's walls and members. Discovering the unity of the universe and of ourselves can only be realized if we have a sacramental vision proclaiming not how we are all different, but how we are all essentially and fundamentally the same, despite our diversity and distinctions.

Dr. Bob Clark introduces Gene Kennedy

Professor Clark, Maryknoll alum, has had many illustrious students including several supreme court justice and current POTUS, Barack Obama.

A packed house (of God)

Maryknoll alumni and members gather this morning in Queen of Apostles Chapel to hear the keynote address by former Maryknoll priest, Eugene Kennedy.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Holy visitors

We have been blessed this past week with a visit by two "real nuns." Sister Marie André and Sr. Marie St. Paul, Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration, made a pilgrimage here from Our Lady of Solitude Monastery in Arizona.

They are also blood sisters, whose father passed on to them a great devotion to Maryknoll and especially to our Founders. Knowing all kinds of arcane facts about Maryknoll, they can even put our resident Maryknoll historian, Br. Kevin Dargan, to shame (not an easy task.)

Kevin, who works in our library, has corresponded with the Sisters for many years and has sent books to their library. He invited them to visit Maryknoll.

The Sisters are very delightful to be around and talk with, on any variety of topics.

The Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration were founded on December 8, 1854 by Fr. Bonaventure Heurlaut and Mother Marie St. Claire to "adore Our Eucharistic King" and spiritually support priests.

Their present superior is Mother Mary Angelica.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

NCR strikes again!

Seriously folks, if you want good second-hand and more up-to-date info on the on-going saga of Fr. Roy Bourgeois, you'd do well to check more frequently the website for the National Catholic Reporter. I thank Fr. Dave LaBuda for forwarding me the following link:

Meanwhile, I once again direct the attention of Maryknoll Society members to the Bulletin Board on our in-house website. There you will read things that are REALLY going on here!

Here, some Maryknoll eagles have already begun gathering for what promises to be a memorable gathering of current and former Maryknollers this weekend.

Bourgeois a no-show?

According to an anonymous source (who bears an uncanny resembence to Fr. Dave La Buda), Fr. Roy Bourgeois will NOT be at the Maryknoll Centennial Alumni Weekend here starting tomorrow, despite his name being on the participants list.

Dave directed my attention to the women's ordination website where, he said (I'm too lazy to look it up myself), Roy is scheduled to be in Chicago this weekend to accept an award from an impressive array of religious groups for his work on behalf of justice. He is also scheduled to be at yet another screening of "Pink Smoke Over the Vatican" in the Windy City.

So unless Roy has learned the fine art of bi-location, I don't think he'll be here tomorrow. Of course, he could put in a cameo appearance and then wing his way westward in time for the other festivities. Will he or won't he? A blogger's dream to keep people intrigued and interested enough to check in frequently.

I just hope Roy doesn't inadvertently demonstrate the philosophy of the ultimate Chicken Hawk, former V.P. Dick Cheney who, when asked why he didn't go to Vietnam as a young man, replied, "I had other priorities."


On this Feast of the Triumph of the Cross, Ms. Teresa Rodriguez, our sacristan, Fr. Ed Szendrey and I schlepped the HUMONGOUS reliquary containing the documented relic of the True Cross, from its implausible place smack in the middle of our sacristy, to a more fitting and proper (albeit temporary) place of honor in the Lady Chapel, to the right of the Pietà. A vigil light honors this day.

Where we eventually put it depends on what we think it is. If we wish to venerate it as the relic it purports to be, then it should be enshrined in a place of worship. If we deem it a
mere curious artifact, than it can go back out into the Spellman Room among other objects d'art.


It's an understandable mistake. For several months now, our Sodexo staff, at the behest of the All-Important Food Committee, has offered a specialty coffee each breakfast and lunch time along with the standard brews. French Roast is one popular choice. Another is labeled "Columbian" (sic). It's not as if we are a foreign mission Society with global interests and international sensitivities with a high concentration of guys who come from or worked in Latin America. I mean, who understands Spanish around here anyway?

Hey, for all I know, the spelling might be correct. Who wants to drink coffee from Harvard?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Letter from Limbo

I and several others received a copy of a handwritten letter from Fr. Roy Bourgeois, M.M., to our Superior General Fr. Ed Dougherty, M.M., dated August 25, 2011.

In it Roy expresses hope that a solution may be worked out. He mentions trying to phone Doc without success. Apparently Doc was/is away. (In Rome, I hear.) In any event, who didn't accept the latest call from whom remains unresolved.

The more interesting point is that in the interest of transparency, Roy suggests all future communications be done in person, with his lawyer, Thomas Doyle, present. In language that, to this blogger at least, seems to mirror the stern tone of the canonical warnings, Roy says he hopes meeting in person will underscore the serious nature of the current situation.

Roy is on the list of the 420 people registered for the up-coming Alumni Weekend starting this Thursday. Formers and current member are attending, so Roy can hobnob with both groups with equal ease and authority.

Following is the schedule of events for Alumni Weekend:

On Thursday Sept. 15, at 7:00 pm Welcoming remarks by Fr. Paul Masson and Centennial Planning Committee Chairman David Brown will be streamed live from the Asia Room on the in-house Channel 15 to rooms here in the Center as well as to St. Teresa's Residence.
On Friday Sept. 16th, the first major speaker, Eugene Kennedy, Ph.D. will air live on Channel 15 at 9:00am. Dr. Kennedy is a Professor Emeritus at Loyola University of Chicago.  Dr. Kennedy has written over 50 books on psychology, the Catholic Church, and the psychology of religion
At 11:00 am, also on Friday the United States Ambassador to the Vatican, Miguel Diaz, Ph.D. will air live on Channel 15.  Dr. Diaz is a Professor of Trinitarian Theology at St. John's University and the College of St. Benedict in Collegeville Minnesota.
At 4:00 pm on Friday an Ecumenical / Interfaith Vespers service honoring deceased Society Members and Alumni will be aired live from the Quadrangle.
On Saturday Sept. 17th, at 11:00am Philip Jenkins, Ph.D. will air live and speak on "The Keys of the Kingdom, The Global Church 1911 - 2011 and Beyond."   Dr. Jenkins is a Professor in the Department of History and Religious Studies at Penn State University and Senior Fellow at the Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor University.
At 4:00 pm on Saturday, the Centennial Celebration Mass will be aired live
At 6:00 pm on Saturday a Banquet honoring Society Educators / Formators will be aired live from the Quadrangle, with remarks by Peter Spain and Dudley Conneely.
At 8:00 pm on Saturday a presentation of Special Honors will air live from the Quadrangle.  Remarks by Fr. Dick Callahan, Bill Murphy, and Mary Darcy

Monday, September 12, 2011

Tears for Br. Jude

The wake for Br. Jude tonight was exceptional only in that it is so rare we Maryknollers shed tears for our brothers. Besides coming so quickly and unexpectedly, Jude's death left a void in our community. There are few who can match his gentleness, optimism, hospitality, humor, and love for Maryknoll. When Fr. Frank McGourn got up to share some personal reflections, the several times he choked up and held back tears spoke as eloquently of the effect Jude had on his life than any wonderful words of tribute. The funeral is tomorrow at 11:00 a.m.

Yesterday was the communal memorial for 9/11. Although I wasn't there and heard it was great, it's heard to imagine it more moving than the one last Friday. About 60 people attended on Friday (roughly half Maryknollers and half employees) but everything (miraculously) came all together at literally the last moment.

We tolled the bells at 11:10 a.m. for four minutes and the Mass began at 11:15. Fr. Mike Duggan's homily struck just the right note of hope and remembrance. "This is my Song" (to the tune of Finlandia) is a favorite, as it blends authentic love of country with a prayer for God to bless all nations, whose people love them as much as we love ours.

After communion, as Ms.Lucille Naughton played "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" softly in the background, I read my reflection from the September 2011 MARYKNOLL magazine: The legacy of 9/11. At the end we all joined in the chorus: "Glory, glory, halleluia. His truth is marching on."

The long silence afterwards was both unintentional and totally appropriate. Given we had to throw this together in less than 24 hours, maybe this is a sign we need FEWER meetings and less planning.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Pre-emptive 9-11 Memorial Service

"Who's responsible for this?"

"Where did this come from?"

"What's going to happen next?"

No, these are not recollected utterances from 10 years ago as the Twin Towers fell. These questions flew fast and furious yesterday and today in the chapel and sacristy since it was announced that, in addition to a community 9-11 memorial on the actual date this Sunday, there would be a rather impromptu service at the Mass today.

Gotta say, this breakdown in communication, confusion and panic certainly recaptured what we did in 2001 as Fr. Ray Finch, the superior general, agreed to my suggestion to toll our bells and gather Maryknollers and employees for prayer. We had about 20 minutes to throw something together.

That being said, Ms. Lucille Naughton as music director, Fr. Mike Duggan as celebrant and Fr. Ed Szendrey as cantor certainly rose to the occasion and today's service, scheduled to begin at 11:15 in the main chapel, promises indeed to be memorable.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Cultivating a culture of vocations in a spirit of renewal of the spirit of VaticanII

Two meetings in the last days neatly captures what's the buzz in the dining room. A meeting of about six men with Fr. Jim Madden (Happy Belated Birthday, btw!) brought us up-to-date (if not up-to-speed) on recent developments in the vocation department.

Of note: after three years with the "Explore My Mission" video contest that sent first-place winners to Brazil, Tanzania and Hong Kong/Korea respectively, the vocation team has decided to discontinue this effort. Whether we will follow through on a recommendation by Mr. Sam Alzheimer, president of Vianney Vocations, to facilitate sending young people overseas on mission, who return to help other young people raise their own mission funds, remains to be seen.

Similarly we have seen our last Mission Encounter here at the end of July, when men and women interested in the three Maryknoll entities come together for discussion and prayer. In it's place, there will be various gatherings around the country to make it easier for people in the South, Midwest, and west coast to attend. Thus, there will still be something here, but it probably won't draw 40+ people, or if it does, they will be coming from local states.

We all admitted to a bit of techno-whiplash as we learned that for many young people today, even websites as being sooo last millennium. Forget email. They Tweet. And they're on Facebook. And Tumblr. Of course, these are just modern developments of media. For our part, we have to make sure we have a compelling message.

And to that end, the fourth meeting of Common Table brought together 18 members to discuss our vision for mission today and in the future. I found the energy level continues to be high and similar themes arose from the smaller groups: a need for on-going personal renewal through prayer and spirituality; a recognition that "retired" is almost as meaningless as "former" since mission is a state of heart as well as mind, and that the spirit of Vatican II must begin in us if it is to continue in our church. Perhaps our mission may be to span the generational, cultural or theological divide separating us from our fellow Maryknollers.

The sudden death of Br. Jude Conniff earlier today certainly took us all by surprise. He was a gentle, optimistic, hospitable and kind missioner. His wake will be held here next Monday night, and funeral on Tuesday morning. Would that he can from his place among the saints, stir up many young men like him to join our mission efforts and our Society!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The nature of priesthood (A far more serious question)

An interesting undercurrent began emerging in recent months, and especially these past days, of an underlying issue far more important than what happens to Fr. Roy Bourgeois, or even the radical and verboten topic of women's ordination (which we Maryknollers, being loyal sons of the church, would not even dare think of discussing, but which Maryknollers might, out of curiosity, just want to check out Knollnews 2.0 on the MK Bulletin Board in a few hours!)

The topic of greater import, and one which as of September 3, 2011 we are still allowed to consider, is the very nature of the Roman Catholic priesthood as it is presently construed.

Needless to say, over the millennia the priesthood has picked up a lot of superfluous baggage. (Although, I suppose, if one did it right, your curate or deacon would carry the baggage for you.)

From the militaristic trappings of the Roman imperial court to the Byzantine (in both senses of the would) accoutrements, today's priests are a far cry from the earliest presbyters of the NT, resembling more the Levitical priesthood ministering in the Temple.

But beyond that, many of us dining al fresco at the Knoll yesterday admitted that our seminary training gave us absolutely no preparation for the things we actually encountered as priests and pastors: preparing and balancing the budgets, dealing with leaking pipes and roofs and obstinate contractors, exercising leadership in an egalitarian rather than authoritarian manner.

Yes, we were well schooled in the art of priestcraft (I thank Fr. Richard Rohr for that phrase!), but unless we quickly learned the prudent practice of delegating to far-more qualified lay people, we bumbled through as best we could. Those who entered the seminary later in life after having successful business careers fared far better.

It seems to me that today's priesthood is comprised of the sacramental ministries, spiritual counseling, preaching, decision-making authority, clericalism and ecclesial power (or the lack thereof, depending on how badly one harbors the illusion of becoming bishop.)

In all this (officially non-existent) talk about ordaining women to the priesthood in the Catholic Church, shouldn't we first stop to ask want kind of priesthood we are ordaining them to?

Case-in-point, back in the day when we still had a School of Theology here at Maryknoll, among our students was a woman Anglican priest. She was refused permission to offer Mass with her classmates in either our main or Lady Chapel (topic for another blog!) but could have an outdoor Mass on our patio behind the Founder's Room.

Things went liturgically well until Communion time when she would allow only consecrated hands to minister the chalice.

See? Gender does not protect against clericalism and a Roman collar alone does not a true priest of Jesus Christ make.

The gospels are quite clear. Jesus wants his apostles to be SERVANTS; and not to lord it over one another, and to be the least if we want to be the greatest, and be willing to wash one another's feet all the time, not just once a liturgical year.

IMHO, Jesus called men and not women precisely because women already were servants. He asked men to do what women were already doing.

Unless we recapture the spirit of service as essential to priesthood, things will only get worse, as first we embrace married male clergy in a vain attempt to hold onto male dominance and then (although highly unlikely), women clerics in order to simply hold onto power.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Not yet a done deal

A NYT article dated Aug. 8, 2011 (and countless subsequent blogs and posts notwithstanding), the formal dismissal of Fr. Roy Bourgeois from Maryknoll is not a done deal, Superior General Father Ed Dougherty told a gathering of Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers last Tuesday evening.

I watched a video of that meeting this morning. You get a different feel for the tenor of that gathering by seeing and hearing the questions that even my facility for twisting words and phrases beyond recognition can capture.

Although the Second Canonical Warning has indeed been delivered, the law requires a minimum of 15 days before the final letter requesting dismissal is sent to Rome for review and validation. And, of course, canon law allows Roy to formally challenge this.

In response to one question, Doc said the Society is not compelled to act within a given time frame. "We are a people of hope," he said at one point, and expressed his desire that some sort of accommodation may yet be worked out. He saw a small glimmer of hope the last time he spoke with Roy over the phone and Roy said he did not want to be dismissed.

Complicating the discussion considerably, however, has been the refusal by Roy in recent days to take any phone calls from the superior general, referring him instead to communicate through his canon lawyer. Roy also asked all future correspondence be in writing, something Doc said he felt uncomfortable doing, given Roy's penchant for maintaining an open hotline to the NCR and other publications.

At last Tuesday's meeting, other salient points that were raised which I did not report on in the previous post, dealt with the impression that Roy has somehow been denied due process.

Yet some years ago when other members were dismissed from the Society, the process was quite rapid, while in Roy's case it has gone on close to three years. Following his excommunication in 2009, "The Vatican wanted to give Roy time to reflect on his actions," Dougherty said, so they were willing to give Maryknoll time.

The case of an Augustinian priest was compared to that of Roy. The priest voluntarily stopped saying public Mass until such time (if ever) women are called to orders. The main difference is that the Augustinian acted privately and did not drag his order into the fray, whereas even to this day Roy continues to speak out openly with the MM firmly, albeit tentatively, affixed to his name.

So there you have it, folks. Less than five years after the Holy Father did away with Limbo, Maryknoll seems to be embracing it as our newest mission territory. (Is there a flag for that?) And therein we presently dwell.

Maryknoll Society Members who want to learn the INSIDE inside scoop on this meeting may log onto and read Knollnews 2.0 in the Missioners' Forum section on the Bulletin Board! (Hint: I name names!) Hey, this might entice more men to join, just to find out what Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers are really like!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

BREAKING NEWS! This just in... [Updated 11:05 a.m. EDT]

Fr. Leo Shea, Chief Coordinator for All Centenary Celebrations Here at the Center or St. Patrick's Cathedral, has announced that the 30' Centenary banner, so rudely blown off our tower by Hurricane Irene, will, in fact, be rehung. Mother Nature can't rain on our parade.

Now, if we can just get the choir to sing "Nearer, My God, To Thee," the Titanic symbolism would be complete. Of course, with the impending departure of Ms. Lucille Naughton as our most excellent choir director after many years of very fine service (she actually was director when I was ordained in 1978!) and having as yet to hire a replacement, the choir might be at a loss to sing anything.

On a totally unrelated note (Get it? Note = music), I have heard third-hand that I may be able to view a video of last Tuesday's gathering, which I am wont to do although it may put me in the awkward and unfamiliar position of having to actually know what I'm talking about.

Overheard at the outdoor breakfast table where a Maryknoller was about to kill one of the annoying hornets that buzz our al fresco dining this time of year:

"Don't kill it! You must show compassion to all sentient beings!"

"Yeah? Well that eliminates most guys living here."

Speaking of which (my segues are not intended to make sense) Mr. Bob Short, former MLM currently working in MEPD on all things Centenary related, reports that after careful inquiry among the People of God, he found there is indeed a Time Capsule in our cornerstone and he has located a list of its contents. I will post these once I get a list from him. No word yet on whether we are actually planning on cracking open our cornerstone to retrieve those items, add more from this year, and rebury for another 50 years, at which time the owners of the Chinese Casino and Buffet who will occupy this place can decide what to do with it.


This was emailed to me by Bob Short:
Time Capsule (Corner Stone)
Ellen Pierce sent me the MARYKNOLL CENTER DIARY AND NEWS NOTES from October of 1953.  Two paragraphs by Father Edward A. McGurkin within those Notes (I have not altered the text) say:
A Chi Rho is cut on one side of the stone.  On front is inscribed “A.D. 1953.”  All this went into the stone before it was sealed:  the certificate of identification, a picture of Pope Pius XII, a photo of Bishop James Anthony Walsh and a photo of Father Price, various souvenirs submitted by Mother Mary Joseph, a copy of our Constitutions, a copy of “The Early Days of Maryknoll,” address list of the Priests and Brothers, our basic seniority list, the Maryknoll Sisters’ address list, the Cloister pamphlet “God So Loved the World,” copies of The Field Afar, plaque and medal of Our Lady of Maryknoll, copy of the Maryknoll Fathers Prayer Book, memorial cards of Fathers and Brothers, and that’s not all; just wait while we start a new paragraph here.
Did you hear about Father Joe Donovan’s wealthy friend who made a pile of dough while working in a Pittsburgh bakery?  To let future generations know what we have endured, it was suggested that we toss into the cornerstone some of Father Donny’s cornballs.  Another idea was to toss in Father Donny.  Period.  Now here’s the rest of the pile that went into the stone:  Acts and Motions of the three General Chapters, a selection of Council Decrees, U.S.A. coins of 1953, a copy of the New York Times of Oct. 3, 1953, cancelled stamps, promotional folders, the Personnel and Statistical Report of 1946, scholastic catalogues of the Seminary, Glen Ellyn, Lakewood and the Venard, this year’s roster of all our training houses, the September Council Bulletin, the October Diary Digest and the Center News Notes for August 1953.  It looks as if Father Dietz just about cleaned out the bottom drawer of his desk.
Also referenced in an early paragraph was the following: 
The testimonial of blessing, which was sealed later in the cornerstone, concluded with these lines from St. Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians.  “You are citizens with the Saints and members of God’s household, built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets with Christ Jesus Himself as the Chief Cornerstone in Whom the whole structure is closely fitted together and grows into a temple holy in the Lord: in Him you too are being built together into a dwelling place for God in the spirit.”

[Blogger's note: It's nice to see Bishop McGurkin also displayed a droll sense of humor. The tradition lives on!]