Sister Peg Dillon was among the more than 25 Maryknoll Sisters and friends who marked Earth Day this spring. You’ll be surprised at what we discovered in the trash during our annual cleanup.
Cleaning up the grounds of the Maryknoll Sisters compound at Ryder & Pinesbridge roads in Ossining, NY, has become an annual event to prepare for Earth Day, celebrated on April 22nd this year.
Our annual clean up was started by the Environment Committee in 2007. While the main area of the Sisters’ property looks pretty clean most of the time, we do have a problem with the areas bordering the street and roads. Part of our property has wooded areas on it, and these pose a particular attraction to passing cars to “ditch” their finished soft drink and fast food containers.
This year, more than 25 Sisters and committee members circled the grounds and road areas with their handy bags on Saturday, April 20, picking up whatever man-made litter they found around. “You wouldn’t believe the amount of stuff we picked up over the years… or the variety!” Sister Janet Miller, co-director of the Sisters’ Environmental Office, exclaimed. In the woods on Brookside Lane opposite the Brookside School, the Sisters and their co-workers found tarpaulins, bed frames and pieces of construction material. While most of the litter comprises drink or food containers of various kinds, odd items do turn up regularly, like baseball bats and liter drink bottles filled with used motor oil.
On one of the previous year’s clean up events, a neighbor passing in his car took pity on the Sisters bending over to get the trash. He returned in a few minutes with a couple of pick-up sticks, poles with a nail in the end! A week later the Good Samaritan had left another dozen of the sticks at the reception desk for Sister Pat Ann Arathuzik, whom he had met along the road.
There’s good reason for neighbors to be concerned as except for a few, the majority of the Sisters picking up the litter are in their 70s, 80s and 90s. “It keeps us young,” says Sister Stephanie Nakagawa, a regular participant. Ending on a hopeful note this year, several Sisters patrolling the roadsides noted that the amount of garbage they collected this year was somewhat less than in other years.
Protect and Save our Planet, it’s the only Home we have!
– Sister Dolores Mitch, MM
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Our ministry to the poor and our efforts to promote peace are in harmony with the Pope’s mission to the world, says Sister Janice, who is in Rome for the International Union of Superiors General assembly.
May 8, 2013: 7:58 p.m. (local time)
ROME — The private audience with Pope Francis for more than 800 religious superiors of women’s congregations was both joyful and somber. Pope Francis entered Pope Paul VI Hall 15 minutes ahead of schedule. He greeted us warmly and then read a prepared text that spoke of the essence of religious life. He stressed the vow of poverty as something very real and not theoretical. It is something that we experience when we touch the poor in our living and working with them. He viewed chastity as an exercise of maternal love and compassion.
Although his words were serious, his tone was gentle and he smiled often. At the close of his words, the African Sisters in the hall burst into song, and all clapped and swayed in unison with them. We left grateful that the Pontiff had taken time from his busy schedule to meet with us. He left us to greet a jubilant crowd of almost 80,000 pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square. It is truly a privilege to be present at this historic center of the Catholic faith and to be blest by our humble and holy Pope Francis.
– Sister Janice McLaughlin, MM
May 7, 2013: 7:02 p.m. (local time)
ROME — The first day of our meeting of the Union of Superiors General in Rome (800 religious from 76 nations are attending), we were informed that we would have a private audience with Pope Francis.
There was a huge outburst of clapping when we received the news. We had been scheduled to join the general audience of about 80,000 people in St. Peter’s Square but when the Pope was asked if he would meet separately with the religious here from the meeting, he readily agreed. This willingness to add yet another meeting to his crowded schedule is an indication of his high regard for Catholic Sisters.
It is a sign of hope to me and sends a signal that women have an important role to play in church and society. Our ministry to the poor and marginalised and our efforts to promote peace and reconciliation are in harmony with the Pope’s mission to the world. Although he has only been in the office for a short time, Pope Francis is setting an example for how we are called to live the gospel today. This is an exciting time to be in Rome and I look forward to being in the presence of this Pope of the People.
– Sister Janice McLaughlin
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At the International Union of Superiors General assembly in Rome, the liturgy on Monday was celebrated in solidarity with the people in Tanzania who lost their lives or were injured in the bombing of a Catholic Church in Arusha over the weekend.
Our liturgy today was celebrated in solidarity with the people in Tanzania who lost their lives or were injured in the bombing of a Catholic Church in Arusha yesterday.
Each day we take up issues of global concern. Yesterday the religious of Japan brought a message to us, recounting the ongoing leaks at the nuclear power plant at Fukushima and asking us to join them in advocating for an end to the use of nuclear energy.
Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz, Prefect for the Congregation for Religious (CICLSAL), met with us for several hours yesterday. He celebrated Mass, stayed for lunch and responded to questions from the group. He appears very down-to-earth, humble and warm. He began by telling us that he spent an hour alone in chapel early that morning, praying and reading the lessons so he would have something meaningful to say, “to keep up with you.”
He spoke openly of his pain at the way things are done at the Vatican, with little consultation or interaction between the different offices. He made it clear that his office did not agree with the removal of Bishop Tobin as Secretary to CICLSAL and was not aware of the doctrinal assessment of LCWR until the report was published. “We must change this way of doing things,” he said. “We must trust each other.”
NCR has done a good summary of his talk. You can also read more and perhaps hear it online.
It’s very overwhelming to be with more than 800 religious women from 76 countries, representing almost 900 congregations. The meeting is being conducted in 8 languages. I am at a table with a Sister from Myanmar who knows (Maryknoll Sister) Mary Grenough, a Sister from Tanzania who has visited Maryknoll, a Sister from India who heads a congregation of three thousand members, a Sister from Zimbabwe whom I have known since 1977, the prioress of the Dominicans of Blauvelt (N.Y.), a Sister from Australia and one from Ireland. This variety mirrors the diversity of the gathering as well as the connections among us.
– Sister Janice McLaughlin, MM
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Your gifts of self, funding, challenge, and care enable Maryknoll Sisters to go out to others with the message Jesus invited us to bring to the world. You truly are “the wind beneath our wings.”
Welcome to Benefactors Day (held on April 14, 2013), one I believe Jesus would have loved, great Benefactor that He is. We are gathered in celebration of the meaning of gifting, your gifting to us, the Maryknoll Sisters. Why do I say that Jesus would have loved this day? In our liturgy today, Jesus is a benefactor: he offers his time and talents to encourage those dear to him: five apostles and two disciples, weak, usually lovable men but sometimes erratic and unbelieving.
I’ve been told to make this Reflection peppy! In order to do that I need your help, so let us join them on the shore. We kick off our sandals and feel that warm sand. We look around at our surroundings. We see a lake shimmering in early sun. There’s an ordinary looking man bent over a fire cooking what smells like fresh fish. We don’t at first recognize that the man cooking is Jesus. It’s early in the morning; he is there on the shore tending to what must be breakfast.
Out on the water we observe a boat. It seems to have several men in it. As it comes closer we see that there is a net dragging behind but it holds almost no fish. Jesus’ friends, his chosen ones: Peter, Thomas, Nathaniel, James, John, and two unnamed others have spent the night out in their boat on the Sea of Tiberius hoping for a catch, but have given up. No fish are to be had. As they come in tired and discouraged, they don’t recognize that the man cooking is Jesus.
However, as they return from this disappointing night, there is Jesus preparing for them. They still don’t recognize him. He calls to them, uses the term “Children,” asks if they haven’t caught something. Probably most of us have fished at some time in our lives or stood at a campground waiting for a relative or friend who is fishing. Coming home empty-handed is not in our best interests as we face those on shore, or at home. So we are watching this scene today. What will happen?
Incredible, we think, as we hear the men being invited to go right back out and try from the other side of the boat! Whoever heard of such a thing. When Jesus suggests that they cast the net on the other side of the boat, I hesitate to think of what went on in their minds. Aren’t both sides of the boat ok? But, out they go. As the boat returns to the water and the net is lowered with fish quickly filling it, John catches on to who that man is on the shore and he immediately tells Peter, “It’s the Lord.” Now we are watching Peter leap into the water, clothes and all.
These friends of Jesus have been so afraid. Nothing has been right for weeks and particularly in the last days. All their hopes have been dashed. Fishing they know. It’s their profession, how they support their families. The Sea of Tiberius is home to them. It’s where it all began in their profession and with Jesus. Finally they are comfortable in a familiar place and work. Even with no fish they realize there is another night. But now with their big catch, not only are they able to share their fish with Jesus but they have lots left for family and business. Their Benefactor, Jesus, not only came to serve that morning but he challenged them. The implied phrase of “You can do it,” prompts a wholehearted response and it opens John’s eyes.
This is the power that benefactors and volunteers have. You inspire, lead and accompany. Your gifts of self, funding, challenge, and care cause us to be able to go out to others with the message Jesus invited us to bring to the world. You truly are, what Bette Midler sings so well, “the wind beneath our wings.”
And so we thank you and pray with and for you. Jesus has given us the model and you have taken it up. Know that He smiles on you.
– Sister M. Suzanne Moore, MM
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“I will always be grateful to have witnessed the inner movement that took place in each Sister’s heart in that room in Hualien, Taiwan,” said Sr. Bitrina Kirway (far l.), who visited the Good Samaritan Women’s Center in Taiwan while in the country for our Regional Assembly.
My visit to Taiwan on January 14-17 was the right time for me and for the Region. During the past several years, the Sisters in Taiwan and I have tried to schedule a time for my visit, but that did not happen until January 2013. This time was not only the right moment for us to meet and visit, but we also experienced a very special energy in the group. I believe the Holy Spirit was present in our midst.
Their Regional Assembly started with a day of reflection using Barbara Marx Hubbard’s DVD, Vision of the Universal Humanity. We pondered on the learnings from the DVD, our own thoughts and we asked ourselves who do we Maryknoll Sisters need to become in order to be a co-creator and partner of the evolutionary process? The DVD reminded us that “we need to look to the future with courage.…and “we need to interrupt our patterns and our deepest selves. This comes with consequences and will always lead us to the future.” We also asked ourselves, “What is the Maryknoll Sisters’ meme for the 21st century within the context of the congregation and what are the patterns of community, mission and administrative patterns of the congregational structures that we are afraid to interrupt?”
As we continued to reflect on the future of the Maryknoll Sisters in Taiwan, the question that kept coming to us was: “Where are we most needed at this time as we read the signs of the times?” As I observed the group, there was a clear desire to move into a deeper level of discernment and dialogue about our future in Taiwan. Again the time was right, the moment was now. The spirit was present in each Sister in the group as she sat in a circle sharing where she is called to be at this moment. All that was shared was held in reverence, honored, and celebrated in the group. It was truly a sacrament.
I will always be grateful to have witnessed the inner movement that took place in each Sister’s heart in that room in Hualien. I believe it was the work of the Spirit.
I was also doubly blessed to have the opportunity to visit the families of Sisters Le Kheng and Shu Chen. How rich an experience it was to meet their families in their homes where they grew up.
After the Regional Assembly in Hualien, Katrina, Shu Chen and I were gifted by the Region to tour Taroko Gorge National Park. This was very well-organized from start to finish. Our tour guide who was also our driver, a native of Hualien, was very helpful and friendly. The sights within Taroko Gorge were truly spectacular! We were also blessed with wonderful weather; the lunch stop was well worth it for the taste, the venue and the views. The aboriginal dancing was quite interesting too. Taroko Gorge is a sight not to be missed, and this tour was an educational tool for me and a great experience.
– Sister Bitrina Kirway, MM
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