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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!

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