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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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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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What’s a semi-religious activity that’s catching on this time of year in Guatemala? Sister Bernice is encouraging a custom that symbolizes the great event of Jesus’ resurrection.
When I grew up, dyeing Easter eggs was an essential part of preparing for Easter. To us children it felt like a semi-religious act, preparing us for the great event of Jesus’ resurrection on Easter Sunday. The inert, drab eggs were lifeless. Yet once dyed and decorated and carefully placed in our Easter baskets, they became exciting and symbolic.
According to Polish custom, which our parents and our parish fostered for Saturday of Holy Week, we placed the baskets on our dining room table along with all the Easter foods prepared at home. That morning a priest would come to bless the food and the family with a special Easter blessing – New Life was all around us.
During Holy Week in Guatemala, the emphasis is placed strongly on the suffering and death of Jesus on Good Friday. For many, Easter Sunday has little significance. I introduced Easter eggs to the neighborhood children last year and we did it again this past Holy Saturday. Children arrived early, hard-boiled egg and cup in hand, eager to work the Easter magic again.
This year, I introduced them to the added attraction of using wax candles to decorate the eggs with designs or names before dyeing them. Each one colored only one egg, but with such care and patience. It had to be the color and hue they wanted, and they hovered over the eggs in their cups of food coloring until they were perfect.
During this time of patient waiting, I told them the story of what happened after Good Friday: Jesus’ crucified body was laid in a tomb, like an egg inert in its shell. On Easter Sunday morning, the tomb was cracked open and Jesus emerged, gloriously – symbolized by a hatchling chick emerging from its shell, to live and walk among us. I hope they got the connection!
– Sister Bernice Kita, MM
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In Lemoa, Guatemala, Sister Helen Werner uses donations to award scholarships to needy Quiche children. At right in photo is Marlin Marroquin, who graduated as a teacher after 12th grade and is continuing her studies.
You don’t get to celebrate someone’s 75th anniversary very often, but we Maryknoll Sisters in Guatemala just did. This year, 2013, we rejoiced with Sister Helen Werner, MM, and celebrated fully her 75th anniversary as a Maryknoll Sister.
Born in 1920 on her family’s farm in Fowler, Michigan, Helen was 18 years old when she entered the Maryknoll Sisters. Yet she made her commitment to become a Maryknoll Sister a decade earlier, the day she received the sacrament of Confirmation. On that day, Helen’s elder sister Dorothy left home to enter the Maryknoll Sisters. Helen recalls sitting on a hillside gazing into the setting sun and promising herself, “Someday I’ll be a Maryknoll Sister, too.”
Children have always been a part of Helen’s mission life. After receiving her teaching degree she taught first-graders for ten years in the basement of a poor church in Panama. Now, at 93, she administers a scholarship program for poor Quiche Indian children in Lemoa, her Guatemala village home.
“I should call my program an outreach from my life of prayer rather than a program as it is very informal,” Sister Helen says about her giving to the students in her village who show such promise. “Just living in the midst of the poor, I am in contact with the needs of the people and feel that education can be a real benefit to the young and especially now for the girls.”
Some of Sister Helen’s students are in high school now and a few have studied for professions. They come to her frequently with gifts of food, handicrafts and, most importantly, good grades. Sister Helen is an important and treasured part of these young people’s lives.
– Sister Bernice Kita, MM
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It has been a difficult time at the hospital: the water just went out. Then, the milk supply dried up. The patients patiently wait for better days, reports Sister Rosemarie Milazzo.
Things have really been moving along here and the time is just flying. This morning, I was with the out-patient team visiting patients in their homes. I met several patients that I knew in the previous years I was here, when they were in-patients. Nice to see them doing well. We rejoiced together. This is a great program for saving and restoring lives.
I went to my first funeral here….the mother of one of our doctors died last week. It was just like being back in East Africa as we sat together with him. However, the difference happened when the father walked in the room, sat down and told us his story. He wept openly as he spoke of how good his wife was, how much he counted on her, how much he missed her. In East Africa, men were not allowed tears. I wonder if Mussolini’s attempt at colonizing Ethiopia has left some remnants of Italian culture! Men cry openly here.
It has been a difficult time at the hospital, the water just went out. Then, the milk supply dried up also. The patients patiently wait for better days.
I think that I have a program started with some of the former patients mobilizing and coming to support the newer ones. This would give so much encouragement when days get lengthy waiting for health again.
I was with one young man I knew from last year who is back in the hospital. He spoke of the side effect of the meds for him. He has very loud ringing in his ears….in fact, he told me that my voice is now much higher than it had been. If that is true and I have a higher voice, maybe I will speak with Julie and see if I can do some solos and give Ann Hayden some competition in our liturgies!
I am going to make this short….folks are fasting here for Lent…a much more stringent fast than we do. Lent just began on Monday (March 11) as their Easter is later than ours. One of the Sisters telephoned me with the news that we have a new pope. I hear that he is from Argentina. Alleluia!
– Sister Rosemarie Milazzo, MM
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