In my life, the beginning of a new year presents an opportunity to make personal resolutions, to anticipate future plans, to contemplate possible challenges and to hope for social change. Like the cycles of changing seasons, the exercise never gets old, it beckons like a call, it feels like an invitation, it results in a prayer.
This New Year my reflections begin with Maryknoll Lay Missioners. In the past eight months, I have begun to know and encounter the 46 missioners, 14 staff and 18 board members who comprise the bones, hands, feet, and heart of the Maryknoll Lay Missioners community. The missioners’ recent newsletters describe ministries that promote justice, peace and hope in the respective countries of El Salvador, Bolivia, Brazil, Haiti, Tanzania, Kenya, South Sudan, and Cambodia and at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Like the Magi who left their homeland in search of “the child who has been born,” these missioners have left everything familiar to live gospel values and to seek encounters with God among the places and people where Jesus taught us to find God (Mt 25:31-46).
Staff and board members are on this journey also, as we too work to overcome barriers, desire to respond to pain in the world and are willing to risk great efforts to bring about little or big changes. Images of each person go through my mind — along with the complex challenges we face and the special gifts each one brings.
Holy Spirit, grant your gifts of courage, wisdom, knowledge, joy and faith to each according to their needs; grant safety, health and well-being to everyone in Maryknoll Lay Missioners in 2023.
Through the eyes of the missioners, we have a window into the lives of poor and marginalized individuals and communities. Migrants and refugees continue to congregate at the borders of many countries. The social, economic, environmental and political odds are against them. In 2023 we begin a new presence at the border in Mexicali, Mexico. At the same time, our partnerships in El Paso are ripe with possibilities as we see the need for increased “workers in the vineyard.”
Jesus, please help Maryknoll Lay Missioners to stand with migrants and refugees, to work like the Samaritan in your parable to address their wounds and healing. Warm the many hardened hearts and teach us how to create a pathway through the wilderness of despair.
In Haiti and South Sudan, we see and hear of severe poverty that impacts men, women and children without mercy. There, as in other places, people suffer from injustice, and human apathy or greed. Violence is the norm, and there is no escape. The psalmist’s prayers echo through to today, “Why do you hide when I am in trouble?” (Ps 10:1). “O Lord, how long will this go on?” (Ps 89:46).
O God, you have given us eyes to see and ears to hear. You have formed Maryknoll Lay Missioners and called each person to embody compassion, to be a witness of justice and peace and to live in love. You are faithful, you are merciful, you are love. May our offering in 2023 be an offering of worship to your Holy Name.