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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

World AIDS Day Mass & Eucharistic Adoration

December 1 is World AIDS Day. For many years, the Maryknoll AIDS Task Force under the capable leadership of former MK lay missioner Ms. Susan Weissert, held many moving and meaningful activities here at the Knoll in conjunction with this date.

Alas, Susan's mandate and the Task Force ended two years ago; double alas, AIDS is still hitting the people of the world, especially the poor, very hard.

Last year the day came and went without fanfare. This year, albeit on short notice, our community Mass tomorrow will be offered for all the Maryknollers around the world who minister to people with HIV/AIDS. Plus Eucharistic adoration will follow in the Lady Chapel from noon till 5:00 p.m. with people (hopefully) taking 30-minutes to one hour shifts. Then Evenin Prayer at 5 will be followed by Benediction.

We encourage you wherever you are around the world to spend some time in prayer for the people who have died of AIDS, those who live with the disease or HIV, as well as for the Maryknollers involved in this important ministry.



Artifacts from the Time Capsule opened two weeks ago, along with displays from Centennary activities around the Maryknoll World, and many of the beautiful banners, plaques, statues and pictures we have received, will be showcased starting Thursday, December 1 till our official closing liturgy on December 12, Feast of Our Lady of Guataluoe.

A momento book will be available for people to write their prayers, greetings and good wishes to the Missioners of 2061. That book and other new artifacts will be placed in the cornerstone and sealed for the next 50 years.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Catholic Youth Gathering (Updated 11/25/11)


Fr. Leo Shea returned to Mother Knoll long enough to give a glowing report of the bi-annual gathering of the National Catholic Youth Conference. This year's conference took place in Indianapolis and attracted some 20,000+ teens plus another 2,000 adults, staff, vendors from around the country.

Maryknoll managed two booths and all entities were represented. From the Society were Frs. Shea, Jim Madden and Brs. John Blazo (who could be an exhibit all by himself) and Joe Bruener. Brother Candidate Ryan Thibert came from our formation house in Chicago to help us speak in the language of the young'uns. Assisted by Ms. Giovanna Soria from our Revista staff, John manned the "prayer block" counter where people were invited to write prayer intention on small wooden blocks. These are then brought to Maryknoll, NY, and become part of the "Prayer Hut" in our Visitors Center. Likewise, they taught the teens how to fold origami peace cranes, which also adorn the Prayer Hut. Mr. Bill Gordon, from our media department, took some great pix and video of these activities.

Mr. Greg Darr, who heads our MEPD office in Chicago, kept crowds interested with the "Maryknoll Mission Map Challenge" and invited the kids to write notes to Maryknollers or family and friends and engage them in conversation about mission. They also gave out t-shirts, "The Radical Bible" (Orbis) and small mission crosses. These supplies ran out after two days of the three-day conference.

There were also five Maryknoll Sisters there as well, and as soon as somewhere gives me their names, I'll post them here, along with the Lay Missioner and Affiliates present.

Leo says the young people were very interested in Maryknoll and mission work.

Let's hope this translates into a big boost in both inquiries and acceptances into our formation programs.


The first of two Thanksgiving celebrations was held Monday. Regional Superior Fr. Mike Duggan was main celebrant and homilist. The lay mission candidates and staff attended the Mass and joined us for a Pre-Thanksgiving Happy Hour and dinner. Last year we had Fr. Stephen Taluja; this year Mr. Merwyn DeMelo representing the Indians at our feast.

A second Thansgiving Dinner, sans Pilgrims, Indians and just about everybody, will take place tomorrow on the proper day.


Correction to previous post: My grammatical construction and poor choice of verbs created the false impression that the one-woman show by Lisa Wagner was sponsored by the Amistad Catholic Worker house of New Haven. In fact, the presentation was totally sponsored by Maryknoll, with proceeds going to the Catholic Worker house in memory of the late Maryknoll Father Tom Goekler.

The next day I spent a delightful coffee break in the dining room schmoozing with Tom's twin sister, other sister and two brothers-in-law who came from East Haven specifically for the performance.



Saturday, November 19, 2011

Chinatown North (欢迎您 !)

About 40 young people from Transfiguration parish in New York's Chinatown are at Maryknoll today and tomorrow for a retreat. Fr. Ray Nobilletti is their pastor and it is great having them around, not only bringing life and vitality to Mother Knoll, if only for a couple of days, but also lowering the median age by 50%.

If these young people are anything like my Korean youth group, the dining room will sound like we are back in our Asia missions. (Although truth be told, the vast majority speak English like the native New Yorkers they are!)

As member of both the house council and the all-(self)important Food Committee, I tried to impress on Ray the sacrosancticity (is that even a word?) of meal times. For lunch, large groups are asked not to go to the dining room until 12:30 and the same holds true for dinner. Groups should go down at 6. This way the Maryknollers can eat and run/hide if they so choose. There are some members in whom the Maryknoll spirit of hospitality still flourishes and who go out of their way to stop and say hi and give words of welcome to our visitors.

The other "rule" is that no group should go to dinner at 6:30, when the kitchen staff is supposed to be breaking down the food service and cleaning up. Sorry to say, a recent group did just that and the staff was forced to stay and work way past their normal quitting time. As this group was a "repeat offender" this became a serious enough issue that it will be brought up for discussion at our next house meeting in December.

Very few want to close Maryknoll off to outside guests. I certainly don't. That isn't the Maryknoll way. It's hard enough living in a retirement home/assisted living/museum. Take away the visitors and we are little more than a mausoleum. But we have two conflicting values at work: hospitality to guests vs. justice for employees. It simply isn't fair to our workers. If guests (and especially the Maryknoller hosting them) cannot keep to the meal schedule, then that group should not be allowed back.

We do want to keep our Center as a place where people can come and breathe in the mission spirit. But we do not want to do this at the expense of losing the goodwill of our employees.

On a totally unrelated note (except as member of the house committee, food committee and liturgy committee) I did raise three safety issues at the house meeting last Wednesday that I failed to mention in this blog.

Corridor lights should stay on all night. I know some well-intention (I hope) soul keeps turning the lights off outside my room. (Is he trying to tell me something?) While we appreciate the desire to save electricity, we should also want to spare someone a fall requiring hospitalization. Also, with our increased emphasis on security, we do not want intruders to have dark corridors to lurk in. (Having told this to the community, someone still turned off my hall light that night. *sigh*) Of course, some Maryknollers did not attend the meeting nor watch on Channel 15, which makes this blog more important---except they probably don't read it!

The second safety concern: guys saving seats in the inning room by leaning the chairs up against the table. Besides aesthetics, the protruding legs can easily trip up someone carrying a tray of food and unable to look down. (We nearly lost someone that way.) I noticed that this egregious practice is usually done by visiting Maryknollers who won't be around long enough to visit the man in the hospital they caused to trip.

Seats can be saved simply by placing a few items (utensils, napkin, glass) on the table indicating the place is taken.

And the last safety concern: using the sanctuary (Blessed Sacrament Chapel) as a short-cut to Mass in the Lady Chapel. Even the velvet rope restricting access doesn't dissuade the die-hard (and more lazy than pious, IMO) members from cutting across. TWO men have already taken bad falls in this way when they did not clear the step.

Ah, life in community!

Friday, November 18, 2011

One-Woman Show

Ms. Lisa Wagner brings Dorothy Day to life with a dynamic performance last evening at Maryknoll.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Goings-on at the Knoll

Here are some brief snippets of things happening around the Knoll these days:

The eastern region Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM) is meeting here this week. Much of their discussions will center around the Presidium workshop. (Either I'm getting old or these superiors are getting younger each year.) It is nice to have an almost full house again.

At the monthly house meeting yesterday, we spent most of the hour bracing ourselves for the imminent changes to the English Mass. First of all, even the smaller chapel edition weighs a ton. How the older men serving as acolytes will be able to hold this for any length of time will be a challenge. Fr. John Kaserow, our house liturgist, suggested we may have to set up a stand in front of the presider's chair to hold the book.

But that's the least of its drawbacks. The committee who translated this may be experts in Latin, but they know squat about the English language. Here's the basic error with literal translation from Latin: it sounds awkward at best and stupid at worst in English.

I made this point when I met with the Sunday school teachers last weekend to prepare them for the changes. "Gamsa hamnida" translates from Korean as "Thank you." The response is: "Chun maneyo" but the literal translation is not "You're welcome" but rather "Ten million." Makes absolutely no sense in English.

Ergo we get stuck with "consubstantial" in the creed. And don't get me started about the Spirit descending like "dewfall." (Cat Stevens, call your publicist!)

Anyway, the burden falls on the celebrant to make the Mass prayerful, perhaps requiring a greater miracle and mystery of faith than Transubstantiation.

Lastly there was a moving, one-woman performance in our Asia Room on the life of Dorothy Day, entitled "Haunted by God." The show was sponsored by the Armistad Catholic Worker house in New Haven, Conn., in memory of Fr. Tom Goekler who worked there and who passed away a year ago in Honduras.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

For posterity

Ms. Kathy Brophy records this historic moment for Channel 15. Mr. Valentino
Concha-Nuñez does same for Revista Maryknoll. Others gathered to witness the extraction and opening of the Maryknoll time capsule following the 11:30 Mass today, November 16, 2011.

From one superior to another

Fr. Dougherty reaches into the excavated cornerstone to extract the time capsule that hasn't seen the light of day for 58 years, when placed there by then superior Bishop Raymond Lane.

Hidden treasure?

Fr. Dougherty displays newly extracted time capsule to the assembled Maryknollers and employees.

Another opening, another show

Mr. Al Vitiello, from physical plant, helps open the rusted and corroded
box sealed in the chapel cornerstone since 1953.

Voices from the past

Fr. Dougherty opens the time capsule and describes the 20+ items placed there by Bishop Lane in 1953.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Veterans Day

Note the shadow of the photographer!

Things to be thankful for

Yesterday about 20 Maryknollers gathered around the Celtic Cross at the top of our cemetery for a brief (thank God, it was freezing!) ceremony to honor the many deceased Maryknoll veterans. Fr. John Kaserow lead the service that included singing "O God, Our Help in Ages Past." Every year, twice a year, Br. Kevin Dargan does a great job making sure each veteran's grave has a marker and flag.

Fr. Ed Dougherty, superior general, announced via email to all the members that the cause for canonization for one of our founders, Bishop James A. Walsh, has (finally) been officially opened. Why there was a delay of more than ten months (It was supposed to have opened last January) was not divulged. We conspiracy theorists are left to our overactive imaginations to speculate as to why Rome is now more receptive to things Maryknoll.

Catholic New York (The archdiocesan newspaper) did two very excellent pieces (an editorial and the entire center spread) on our Centennial. If I can figure out how to post their URL (weblink) I will do so.

Three evergreens will be planted in loving memory of our three founders: Bishops James A. Walsh, Fr. Thomas F. Price and Sister Mary Joseph Rogers. The two for the Fathers & Brothers will most likely be planted on either side of our main chapel. The site for the Sisters' tree is to be announced.

To symbolize the transition from our Centenary to that of the Sisters', the Maryknoll Processional Cross, containing relics from each Founder as well as from deceased Lay Missioner Joe Honnerkamp, will be brought over to the Mother House following the closing liturgy on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Dec. 12.

Listen carefully for the HUGE collective sigh of relief as the Centenary of the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers comes to a close.

(Now, where were we in our discussions about the ambo????)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

All Souls

Yesterday afternoon about 25 Maryknollers gathered around the Founders' Tomb for a special prayer service for the repose of the souls of the 720 deceased Maryknollers buried here and around the world.

Father John Kaserow conducted the service assisted by Fr. Ernie Lukaschek.

Snowstorm damage

Last Saturday's Nor'easter played havoc on many of our trees, both newly planted or long established. Some will be trimmed back, but many, like this one, will have to be removed. Ironically, this tree had replaced another one destroyed by a previous storm.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

National Catholic Reporter (NCRonline)

Here's what our friends at NCR had to say about Sunday's Mass:

Sent from my most excellent iPhone