Follow by Email

Saturday, June 30, 2012

101 and counting

The Catholic Foreign Mission Society of America (a.k.a. Maryknoll Fathers & Brothers) turned 101 yesterday on the feast of SS Peter & Paul. Leading the celebration at Mass in the Queen of Apostles Chapel was New York Archbishop Timothy Cardinal Dolan with around 50 Maryknoll concelebrants.

During his homily, Cardinal Dolan, affable as ever, strolled the center aisle and spoke pastorally to the 160 Maryknollers and guests in the pews. He spoke of holiness as Pope Benedict used the word, to connote a personal friendship with Jesus. Peter, of course, knew Jesus for three years; Paul experienced the presence of the Risen Jesus. Both men's lives would never be the same. Their goal became to share that knowledge and faith in Jesus with all the world.

And that, the Cardinal said, was the same goal of Bishop James A. Walsh and Fr. Thomas F. Price and Mother Mary Joseph. And that is the goal of Maryknoll today, he pointed out, preaching to the choir (literally).

After Massed, the Cardinal did work the crowds in the dining room but didn't stay for the meal.

As you may or may not know, our Extended Leadership Board (ELB) of the Society finished their annual two-week-long meeting but without issuing any statement in support of the Sisters. But at least two superiors assured me "something is in the works." The Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM) will be meeting in August and will presumably ratify a letter of support that their leadership issued two weeks ago. Maybe our Maryknoll leaders are waiting for that as "cover."

I hope that is not the case. Otherwise we who once fancied ourselves the "marines of the Church," the prophets of our time, the cutting edge of mission, the risk takers of the gospel, will seem like tired, old geezers afraid to say anything that might  offend.

But I shall reserve any harsh(er) comments till August when surely we can expect a bold proclamation of gospel values in support of the Sisters, especially on this, their Centenary.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Day of jubilee

Thirty-five Jubilarians celebrating 25, 40, 50, 60 and 65 (!) years respectively of priesthood and membership in Maryknoll gather in Queen of Apostles Chapel with family and friends.

Fr. Ed Dougherty, superior general, gave a quick overview on how much America has changed over these years: a gallon of gas was 15 cents and a postage stamp was three cents 65 years ago. (He neglected to add that I was minus one year old.)

With the new configuration of the chapel, the Jubilarians sat in the front row of the main aisle, with their personal guests directly behind them.

Sister Jubilarians, and the Maryknoll Sisters' and Lay Missioner Leadership were honored guests.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Following dismissal vote, Bourgeois says Maryknoll's tone different

Here is the NCR's take on the June 6 meeting between Fr. Roy Bourgeois and Superior General Fr. Ed Dougherty.

Regarding the excommunication, in my understanding Roy incurred the excommunication "latae sentitiae" when he did not recant within the time limit specified in the second warning of dismissal.

To date, Roy remains a Maryknoller and still receives his personal allowance and health coverage.

Sent from my most excellent, albeit antiquated, iPhone 4

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Martin Niemöller quote redux

First they condemned the liberation theologians, but I didn't speak up for fear of being labeled a commie sympathizer.

Then they condemned homosexuals as 'intrinsically disordered' and silenced those who ministered to the GLBT community, but I said nothing for fear of attracting unwelcome scrutiny or suspicion.

Next they forbad discussion of women priests and excommunicated a man for publicly advocating women's ordination, to serve as a warning to others, and it worked: we shut up.

Then they fired a suspected liberal editor whose only transgression was giving equal coverage to opposing views, so we learned not to be fair and not to oppose.

Then they hijacked our Mass and crucified the English language and they tortured our grammar and theology beyond recognition, and we responded, "And with your spirit."

Now they have come for the Sisters, but as God is my witness, I will never be silent again!

(With apologies both to Rev. Niemöller as well as Scarlet O'Hara for their inspiration.)

Monday, June 11, 2012

My epistle to the Maryknoll Sisters

Dear Maryknoll Sisters,

May the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ continue to reign in your hearts!

Since 1973, I have personally known and worked with you individually, in groups (as with that stellar bunch that was in Korea with me during the 1970s and 1980s) and, of course, as a Congregation, headquartered right across the street from the Fathers & Brothers in Ossining, N.Y.

This current crisis between the Vatican and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious affords me a wonderful opportunity to state publicly what I have long felt and seldom expressed: you are far and away the greatest living representatives of gospel values I have ever encountered.

On this, the Centenary of your founding, it is appropriate to recall how the first Maryknoll Sisters quickly dispelled the doubts and reservations about American women being too weak to endure the hardships of overseas missions. Indeed, our co-founder, Bishop James A Walsh, M.M., quickly conceded our mission work would never succeed until Maryknoll Sisters went overseas as missioners in their own right.

You have more than proven yourselves worthy disciples and missioners in our first mission of China since the 1920s, operating orphanages, medical clinics, sanitariums for Hansen's disease patients, and homes for the elderly poor. When war broke out you went into prison or exile with the people. In the States, you accompanied the Japanese Americans into the internment camps. During the Korean war, you disappeared with many other prisoners on the infamous Death March.

Following Vatican II, you eschewed your distinctive Maryknoll religious habit to remove an artificial barrier between you and the people you are sent to serve: the poor, the oppressed, the marginated, those who "hunger and thirst for justice." You surrendered ecclesial symbolism for approachability and solidarity with ordinary people, just as Jesus did. Knowing first hand the plight of women in a "man's world", you instinctively gravitated toward helping women overcome violence, discrimination, illiteracy, unemployment and health issues.

So great was your identification with the oppressed, that in El Salvador your deaths, among the hundreds of thousands slain, helped awaken the world and especially the people of the United States to the brutality and injustice of our foreign policy in Central America. With this came the dismissive disdain from powerful people in our government.

Through all this, I have known you to be women of deep faith and great joy, welcoming to all, open to differing viewpoints and respectful of diversity. These are the very things that got Jesus into trouble with the religious leaders of his time. So I suppose it is sad but hardly surprising that your actions on behalf of justice and the true gospel of Christ would attract the disapproval of powerful men in our Church today.

Yet, what marks a truly Christian community is not the absence of conflict or controversy, but rather how these are resolved. I have no doubt the bishops acted out of love for Christ and his Church, even as your lives attest to that very same love.

I am happy to number myself among the People of God who will be praying and fasting in the days, months and years ahead that the spirit of wisdom, discernment, knowledge, counsel and understanding might infuse your upcoming dialogue and discussions with the Vatican and that, in all humility, all Christians live out Christ's words: "By this shall all know you are my disciples, if you have love one for another." (John 13:35)

In Christ I remain,

Joseph, your brother

When silence is sinful

I know this blog was originally created to keep Maryknollers in Fields Afar up to speed on goings on here at Mission Central. As such I tried to report what others were saying or doing (at least those things I could report without risking a liable suit). But times being what they are, I decided to violate a basic tenet of journalism by actually creating the buzz instead of just reporting it.

When the Vatican chose to announce a crackdown on the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) on my birthday (April 18, for those who'd like to mark their calendars for next year, under "Significant Dates in History" right after the Midnight Ride of Paul Revere), I knew I had to acknowledge this rather unorthodox (and I use the word intentionally) gift.

I approached the U.S. Regional Superior (just re-elected, congrats, Mike!) asking when Maryknoll, if not the Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM), would issue a statement of support. He reported that our counterpart to the LCWR was waiting on the Sisters to respond. In the mean time, I understand he spoke with our Secretary General, Father Ed McGovern, to encourage that the Maryknoll Fathers & Brothers at least have a statement ready.

Well, it has now been two weeks since the LCWR issued a statement responding to the situation. To my knowledge (which I concede may be severely limited) neither the men's group nor Maryknoll Society has publicly issued a statement (except for those Franciscan Friar firebrands!)

I remember a quote (just can't remember whose!) that was on the wall in our history class in high school: "To sin by silence when we should protest makes cowards of us men." Here, the archaic exclusive language seems sadly fitting. Paradoxically, it's usually us men who tend to act first and discuss later, so this seems an inordinate amount of time for the sound of silence.

Who knows, an official statement may in fact appear in the next few hours or days.

Until such time, I feel compelled to speak out. And, as my disclaimer header explains, I do not represent the Society. This affords me a certain freedom to articulate my own thoughts in support of the Sisters. Please check back to Knollnews in a few hours!

Sent from my iPad

Car Show Success!

Mr. Don Baisley posted on Facebook yesterday on the success of the first-ever Antique & Classic Car Show at Maryknoll.

According to Don (I was at the Korean church and unable to attend) the show attracted 207 exhibited cars and 2,000 visitors!

I know everyone was nervous in the days leading up to the show with the very unsettled weather pattern we've been in all week. This influences not only classic car owners, but of course families who might be averse to thunderstorms.

Luckily the weather held and the cars and crowds came.

Maryknollers were on hand to greet people and show them around the museum, chapel, gift shop etc.

But the bulk of the work was done by Maryknoll employees who volunteered countless hours to help make this a success.

Pictured is a TR 6 owned by Don Baisley's father.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Huffington Post: Brothers Got Sisters Back: Franciscan Friars Side With The Nuns

 OK. We've waited till the LCWR formally responded. The Franciscan Friars have spoken firmly yet respectfully and acted out of conviction, dedication and appreciation for their Sisters.

Now, what about the Maryknoll Fathers & Brothers, not to mention the CMSM?

Brothers Got Sisters Back: Franciscan Friars Side With The Nuns
(RNS) The brothers have come to the sisters' defense. Leaders from the seven Franciscan provinces in the U.S. publicly backed a group of American nuns...

Sent from my most excellent, albeit antiquated, iPhone 4

Die loquentes!

OK, I know many of you have been waiting with bated breath for news of what exactly transpired yesterday afternoon between Fr. Roy Bourgeoise and Fr. Ed Dougherty during the "Due Process" mediation for which Roy had appealed as is his (Maryknoll) Constitutional right.

I hasten to scoop NCR on this breaking story:

They talked. Face to face. For a couple of hours.

Although Roy was accompanied by his canon lawyer, Fr. Thomas Doyle, Ed had no such legal representation, nor was there any need for it. This was not a canonical procedure. Instead, with Fr. Wayman Deasy as mediator, the two men spoke about their respective positions. They spoke and listened.

I did not presume to ask what, precisely, they talked about, but rather asked each man his impression of the exchange.

Roy seemed delighted. "We talked, openly and honestly. There were no threats or ultimatums." He gave Wayman high marks for keeping the discussion moving and on point. Roy was not asked to utter the two words he said he could never say: "I recant."

Doc, too, said they had a cordial and frank exchange.

So to answer some questions that have, indeed, been circulating over the salad bar:

Nothing was decided.

Roy is still a member of Maryknoll.

He still receives his personal allowance and health coverage from the Society (Sr. Joan Chittester and other advocates' published assertions notwithstanding.)

The School of Americas Watch recently received a $10,000 grant from the U.S. Region.

Roy has not been silenced (to my knowledge) by Maryknoll, although I did confide to him that my personal objection to his very public actions and speeches have less to do with content and everything to do with our Society being dragged into an ecclesial controversy which we had not discussed, agreed to nor prepared for.

I doubt any of this will get out to those people who withdrew support for Maryknoll, denounced us or think less of us because of perceived injustices. But here in all its unadorned glory is the truth.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Dies irae autem dies spei?

Even as I post, Fr. Roy Bourgeoise and his high-powered attorney, Fr. Tom Doyle, are meeting with Superior General Fr. Ed Dougherty in a "due  process" session, mediated by Fr. Wayman Deasy. As far as I have been able to ascertain, Doc won't be accompanied by a canon lawyer. This may be just as well, since this is not a judicial hearing or trial or negotiation or arbitration. It is, rather, an opportunity afforded Society members by our Constitutions when they feel they have not been treated fairly or ethically by leadership.

Absent a fly-spy on the wall, I am not sure if we will learn what exactly was discussed, but the very fact that Roy and Ed are meeting and talking face-to-face is itself an accomplishment, according to Bourgeoise, who claims there has been neither dialogue nor discussion between the two in the past three years.

I confess I cannot imagine what else can come out of this "due process" process, since there is, in fact, not much that can be reversed or undone. There is also a certain disadvantage for Doc in this kind of situation since the Vatican has made it quite explicit that not only are Catholics forbidden to talk about [DELETED] but we are to refrain from even thinking about [DELETED].

What we have here in microcosm is the same dysfunctional dynamic plaguing not only us here at the Center but, in fact, the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church. To wit: one side sees its authority and power eroding, perhaps irreparably, so it clings desperately to what little power it has. It appeals to blind obedience and to habit (if not tradition) and calls for strict adherence to anachronistic laws or policies; on the other side we have free spirits willing to enter into discussion, dialogue and process to reach some sort of mutually acceptable understanding and conclusion.

This strikes me as being at the heart of the apparent overreach by the Vatican regarding the Conference of Leadership of Women Religious (not to mention the Girl Scouts!). This likewise reverberates through our dining room when somewhere dare suggest moving pizza to another day. It's "Who Moved My Cheese" writ large. Our actions seem to shout: "We can't control our situation, by God we can control this!" and so we pounce for no better reason than that we can.

Age, disease, decreasing numbers force us to confront our limitations and mortality; as individuals, as a Society and as a Church. So what is the knee-jerk reaction? Come down hard on any individual or group you deem vulnerable but whose very actions underscore the embarrassing truth that the emperor lost his clothes decades ago.

Asked what he hoped would come from today's "due process" meeting, Roy replied: "Hope."

Not a minute too soon!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Maryknoll Alums Gather

About 60 former Society members are gathering tomorrow for a reunion.

Some came from quite a distance and arrived today, but most are coming in tomorrow. Society members are invited to join in their morning coffee break as well as the noon BBQ. They will have discussions during the day.

Also coming up next SUNDAY, June 10, is the much publicized and first ever Maryknoll Classic and Antique Car Show here on the grounds (the soccer field, to be precise). Advertized as "fun for the whole family" there will be raffles and tours, as well as judging of the vintage autos. This gathering is not just a fundraiser for the Society, but will hopefully introduce Maryknoll and our mission work to a whole new audience.

PLEASE join us in praying that the eratic weather pattern breaks and a sunny, warm but not humid day inspires many to come out to the Car Show.


[Blogger's note: the reasons for my own eratic postings in here are:

1) Nothing of interest was said or done;
2) Nobody tells me anything worth repeating;
3) Nobody tells me anything I dare repeat;
4) I am busy
5) I am lazy
6) All of the above

Sent from my most excellent, albeit antiquated, iPhone 4