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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Procession of flags

These are the 47 countries Maryknollers served these past 100 years.

Protesters in support of Fr. Roy

Several protesters braved inclement weather to show their support for Fr. Roy Bourgeois across the street from St. Patrick's Cathedral.

Streaming the Cathedral Mass

OK, folks, at 2:00 p.m. EDT you can watch Maryknoll's Centenary Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral live on your computer by logging on to:

(I am still trying to activate the direct link!)

As you may have heard, there was a freak Nor'easter yesterday that dumped 8+ inches around Westchester and points north, knocking down leaf & snow-laden trees, branches and utility wires. Quite a mess.

I, for my part, was spared (?), because I had a wedding at St. Patrick's yesterday, followed by a junior high school students' retreat out on the Island. My wedding gig (the first for me at the cathedral) did give me the opportunity to scope out the ever elusive bathroom facilities. Interestingly enough, guests from the serial weddings occurring yesterday were give access to the bathrooms. Of course, 20 is a lot different than 2,000.

Once I get back from the Mass today, I will post my observations, but then I shall take two days off to recuperate from PCF (Perpetual Centenary Fatigue).

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Annual Halloween Parade


This is either Maryknoll employees getting ready for Halloween or the beginnings of the Occupy Maryknoll Protest.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Mission Central

Religious superiors and council members began arriving today from around the United Stated, Canada, Mexico and Colombia for the annual meeting of Mission Institutes & Societies of Apostolic Life (MISAL) that begins here tomorrow.

I am presuming (always dangerous, to be sure) that said superiors will also participate in the Centenial Mass this Sunday at St. Patrick's Cathedral at 2 p.m.

The Maryknoll Centential Choir holds its final rehearsal this afternoon for that Mass.

But the BIG news is that, after MONTHS of memos and meetings, we will be streaming the Mass LIVE, not just via Chanel 15 but over the Internet, so anyone can watch no matter where they are in the world. (Granted, our guys in Asia might not be disposed to watch at 2 a.m., their time, and just wait for the DVD; guys in Latin America can watch at a reasonable hour and Africa can view it at 7 or 8 p.m.)

Here is the URL to watch via the Internet:

Of last minute àgita: the Cathedral staff notified us today that there were not enough chairs to accommodate all expected 75+ concelebrants as well as the 50+ member choir, so the singers either stand or go up in the back choir loft where we'll need walkie-talkies and telescopes to know what's happening around the main altar.

The one saving grace of the choir loft idea is that, unlike the cathedral itself, there is a bathroom up there.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Now departing for Fields Afar

Fr. Stephen enjoys one last coffee break before heading to Cochabamba.

The mission continues...

Fr. Stephen Jaideep Taluja, our youngest if not newest Maryknoller, leaves today for his first overseas mission assignment to the Latin America region. He will refresh his Spanish at our language school in Cochabamba, Bolivia, and travel around the region to discern where he will eventually work.

Born in Punjab, India, in 1981, Stephen converted to Catholicism from Sikhism at age 16 while attending a Catholic school. He immigrated to the States in 2000 and made his first contact with Maryknoll shortly thereafter and was ordained in 2009.

In addition to his native Punjabi, Hindi, and English, Stephan speaks Spanish, and has dabbled in Aymara, German, Greek and Hebrew. We hate him.

Being the new breed of Maryknoll upstarts, Stephen eschews our time-honored (?) tradition of ringing the tower bells whilst the assembled community waves goodbye (a lá the Munchkins to Glenda) as his car drives around the front circle three times before heading off to fields afar, which for now means the local airport.

Before finally getting his assignment overseas, Stephen assisted at Transfiguration parish in New York's Chinatown. His youth, energy, popularity and personable style apparently intimidated someone and his tenure there (along with two Chinese priests who also assisted) was prematurely terminated (let the reader take note.)

In a word, Stephen can't get overseas fast enough and so we wish him Godspeed in this new chapter of his mission vocation.

Awkward segue: one very nice addition in the new Roman Missal is a special preface for one or several missionary martyrs. Not that anyone should get any ideas. I shall be offering salient comments, pro and con, on the new translation in future posts.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Learning how not to fall

Learning how to age with grace

Dr. Dennis Klima, from the department of physical therapy at University of Maryland Eastern Shore, gave a full-day workshop today on fall prevention, and coping with Alzheimer's and dementia.

About 55 Sisters and 20 Fathers and Brothers attended. It was also streamed live on Channel 15 to those who didn't want to venture out of their rooms.

After Br. Wayne, I was the second youngest at 63. Although I have yet to fall, my memory has never been all that good, so I figure this was as good a lesson as I was about to get on how to grow old gracefully.

In a way, we "younger" guys who live here at the Knoll are blessed. After all, how many "normal" people have access to 83 different examples on how to age?

I have a friend who is dealing with his aging mother. She drives him nuts. But his greatest fear is that he will be as difficult as she is.

That's when I appreciated the treasures we have here.

This perception was validated by a vocation prospect who came for the tests and interviews as part of the admissions process. He had never visited Maryknoll before, but has long felt he had a call to missionary priesthood. He was really impressed at how the residents here seemed really to enjoy each other's company. He even said to me, "That's how I want to be when I grow old." (I thought to myself, "Yeah? Stick around a few more days!")

So maybe the men here don't realize that their mission work is far from over, and how they age speaks as much to the gospel and kingdom of God as any work they did overseas.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Sign of new life

A new elm tree was planted today in the quadrangle to replace the 82-year-old elm that gave up the ghost a few months ago.

This is a sure act of faith: to plant a tree under whose shade you will not sit.

Renewing Maryknoll

Marist Brother Sean Sammon gave a wonderful, week-long retreat to the retirement community as well as the residents here in the main building. From everything I heard from the men, they appreciated his simple, straightforward presentations.

Here is a synopsis of his talk on Thursday, offering us the Virgin Mary as the model of discipleship.


There is a dying and rising that we must be about, individually and as an institution. Renewal is the work of the Holy Spirit. Our job is to get out of the way.

While the future may be with the Laity, there are still people called to exclusively religious life. The 1960s may have been an aberration with regards to numbers of vocations. We must look back over a whole century to get a more realistic view.

Many young people do not know a priest, Brother or Sister personally.

Young people have more choices than we did a few decades ago.

Some congregations have made a conscious decision to die. This is a shame because the congregation does not belong its members, but to the church.

We can create a fatalistic atmosphere or be open, inviting and welcoming.

The younger generation has not been catechized as we were.
They live in a world filled with questions.
The young are not conservative or traditional. They do not really know the past as we know and lived it. We must enter a dialogue with them.

A cross-section of young people show the same range of opinions as we have.

We must keep an open mind about views different than ours.

Imagine what parents think about the realities of religious life.

Each of us and our lives are the best advertisement for religious life.


Mary is a model of vocational discernment. She pondered these things in her heart.

Jesus is the ideal vocation promoter. "Come, follow me."

Vocation is tied up in our life dream. On whom or in what do you place your heart?

Most young people don't feel worthy of religious life.

Young people have a great respect for priests and religious.

Mary at the Annunciation:

A call
Many questions
Growing awareness that the call comes from God
Leap of faith.

A vocation is not a one time call, but a life-long conversation.

For some it begins in the high school years or university.

First reaction: let's hope these feelings go away.
The persistence of the Lord.
What can we do to change the perception?

Prior to Vatican II we knew who we were.

There was reinforcement for making this choice.

We began to ask: what makes us different?

Families became less sure about who wears.

What encourages young people to join today?

Zeal for mission
Love for people
Love of God
Spirit of welcome and hospitality.

Young people prefer priests, brothers and sisters who are personable, approachable, outgoing; less comfortable with those who seem remote or stern.

Retreats and "come and see" programs are effective.

It's a mistake to wait till after a prospect is post college graduation.

Families are smaller now; young people make commitments at a later age, they have more choices.

Celibate chastity doesn't make sense to a number of young people.
Target specific age groups (high school and university age students).

,Be a living example of God's Good News.

Young people are looking for answers, stability, rediscovering traditional practices of faith.

They believe in external signs. (Habits, crosses, tattoos [I added this to see who's paying attention.])

Talk to individual young people and resist temptation to stereotype or generalize.

They are looking for active community life and a vibrant life of prayer.

Are some of our present structures and attitudes doing more to discourage vocations rather than promote them?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Let us eat cake!

Feting Bishop McNaughton

The U.S. Regional and Retirement Community retreat pauses to congratulate Bishop Bill McNaughton on 50th anniversary of ordination to the episcopacy.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Rockin' Knollers


All we are saying is give peace a chance.

Knollstock & Town Hall Meeting

The weather FINALLY. cooperated to allow our annual Employee/Maryknoller picnic to take place in the space between the Price & Walsh buildings. Many dug deep into their closets to take tie-dye threads out of mothballs and put flowers in their hair. For some (like me), the 60s are only a top drawer away.

The "Rocking Knoller" band (Frank Enzerillo, Janice Singer, Bill Gordon, Holly, Cindy Lynch, Eddie Gonzales, Dave Agosta, Anthony Giadoso, Paul Lonce) put on a great performance of Joplin, Grateful Dead, Chicago and Guthrie tunes that got people, including Super G Fr. Ed Dougherty, complete with love beads, dancing to the beat.

Alas, I could not find the necessary ingredient for my special brownies (where can you buy chocolate at 11:00 p.m.?) so we made due with delicious, homemade flan and other desserts.

Following the picnic, the crowd migrated to the Asia/Africa Rooms where Fr.Dougherty held an open town hall meetting. For the first half hour, he reported on Centenary events. Doc announced the Closing Ceremony for the Centenary will be Monday, December 12 (Our Lady of Guadalupe) with Mass at 4:15. A special exhibit in the Spellman Room will exhibit artifacts and souvenirs of our year from around the world.

The recent edition of the St. Anthony's Messenger had great coverage of our centenary written by former Maryknoll Lay Missioner Mike Lavery.

Doc had great praise for the missiological paper prepared for this anniversary by our theologians.

Doc then recited a litany of the various Centenary celebrations around the country, as well as in Rome, Asia, Africa and Latin America. And we look to the big Mass at St. Patrick's on October 30.

Maryknoll has gotten several inquiries from Africa to help with the various refugee situations. The Guadalupe Fathers, (Mexican missionaries founded by Maryknoll Bishop Escalante, have become our heirs in the mission fields.

The results of an emplyee survey were alluded to. Ms.Adriane Glass, head of HR, reported that, among other things, employees have a clear understanding of Maryknoll's mission. A desire for clearer communications (sound familiar?) was expressed.

HR is always looking to compare and improve employee health benefits.

At this point, the special brownies that I didn't eat started to kick in, so I spent the rest of my conscious time concentrating on the fascinating pattern on the drapes. Oh wow.

I woke up for the Q & A. A request was made to set up computer kiosks for those individuals who don't have access to email at work. Another inquired about the compressed, four-day week introduced by the last council, that many see as disruptive and counterproductive. A committee will look at alternatives. One asked that voicemail be used to reinforce communications.

Doc then gave everyone the rest of the day off.

As soon as this happening ends, I'm crashing up in my pad.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

(WAY too) Moveable Feasts

KNOLLSTOCK, the four-times postponed Maryknoll employees and members picnic, was once again postponed till tomorrow when, for the first time in WEEKS, there promises to be sun and NO RAIN! Yay!

The picnic goes from noon till 2:00 p.m. and has a Woodstock theme. People are encouraged to wear 60ish style clothing, although truth be told, I couldn't fit one leg into my bell-bottoms from that era.

Of raised-eyebrow interest is the invitation to bring "themed deserts". I have threatened to bring my "special" brownies.

Then it was learned that following the picnic, we will have a Town Hall Meeting with our superior general, the general council and as many employees and members who care to attend. In this case, I think my special brownies should be mandatory.

This evening at 7:30 p.m. at St. Theresa's church in Briarcliff, NY., Fr. James Martin, S.J., will have a conversation about his latest book: Between Heaven and Mirth——Why Joy, Humor and Laughter are at the Heart of the Spiritual Life.

The author of ten books, including The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything. Fr. Martin is all the rage in the Catholic speaker circuit and has appeared numerous times on Stephen Colbert's show, The Colbert Report on Comedy Central.

When Jim spoke here at Maryknoll last year, he packed (and then brought down) the house.

Which brings up a great proposal by Mr. Ken Woodward, of Newsweek magazine, who hosts this speaker series. Given that so many attend from Maryknoll each time, and given their limited space at St. Theresa's, the suggestion is that we move the venue here to Maryknoll in the future.

I think this is a great idea, IMO, and will be great for all involved as well as good stewardship of putting our facility at the service of the community.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

More news from the Knoll

On this great and glorious feast of St. Therese of Lisieux (the Little Flower) and one of Maryknoll's patron saints, I have some news to report.

First, the case of the mysterious motion-activated camera down in our lower woods seems to have been solved. Apparently one of the six outsiders who have special permission to hunt here with bow and arrow each fall set up that camera without the permission or knowledge of either Fr. Dick Callahan or Fr. John Hudert, who attend to our property. The camera is now gone.

But I heard from another Maryknoller that PETA has been known to raid our woods and destroy the aluminum ladders the hunters affix to the trees to better view their prey. Seems like everywhere's a battleground around here.

"Knollstock", the 60s-themed picnic for MK employees and members, (postponed twice already) has been postponed again till this coming Tuesday. We have been asked to dress in our best Hippie outfits, find long hair and sing protest songs. An e-mail also invited us to bring "themed desserts." The mind reels at the possibilities, but I guess that's the point.

Finally I am happy to announce we have finally hired a new music director. Mr. Chris Reilly will direct our Christmas concert, as well as lead music here on Sundays, for funerals, ordinations, jubilees etc. even as Ms. Lucille Naughton wraps up her remarkable career with us spanning four decades. Her last official duties are directing the music for our Centenary Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral on October 30, 2011 at 2:00 p.m. and our Centennial Closing liturgy at Maryknoll, NY, on December 12, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Best of luck to both Chris and Lucille!