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Returned Missioner News

Liz Mach returns to U.S. after 44 years in Africa

As returned Maryknoll lay missioners, many of you have faced cultural reinsertion into America and relocation from somewhere around the world since your own return. I have joined you, since early July, in this endeavor. It has been challenging to learn this new language here, where no one seems to have a filter anymore and speaks their deepest thoughts to everyone they meet — friend, relative or stranger. And often not in a kind way. I miss the respect for elders, the gentle corrections of the Tanzanians always allowing you to save face and the smiles. Things have changed, and we all are learning to deal with these issues. We once did learn a new language, and now we must speak truth to the kinder language we all once knew. We all learned new customs and ways to adapt, and we must bring these adaptations home to others. We all found our people who supported us overseas, and now we must find these people here who will support and share life with us here.

Lisa Sullivan serves Venezuelans during crisis

Lisa Sullivan (Class of 1984, Bolivia and Venezuela) continues to serve the people of Venezuela in the midst of their long-running extreme economic crisis. The poverty rate is now at 96 percent, and some 5 million Venezuelans have had to emigrate. Working together with the children in her village of Palo Verde, Lisa is growing a bounty of vegetables at “Hummingbird Farm.” The community garden was the idea of 10-year-old Fabi and now provides urgently needed food for the children’s families.

Jean Walsh Offers Compassion to COVID Patients

Jean Walsh (Class of 97, Mexico and U.S.) is a chaplain at New York Presbyterian Weill-Cornell in Manhattan, where she focuses on palliative and critical care. Throughout the COVID pandemic, she has been ministering to patients, families and hospital staff, helping them to navigate this unprecedented crisis. She has accompanied many through their dying, but has also had the blessing of seeing others recover. Much of her work is in Spanish, as she attends to the needs of Latinx patients and families, whose communities were particularly hard hit by the virus. Jean is also involved in Sacred Conversations to End Racism, a program of the United Church of Christ. Dismantling white supremacy and racism are integral to her Christian faith. Jean lives in Ossining with a daughter and grandson. She says her service as a Maryknoll lay missioner continues to shape her commitment to God’s people.

Barbara Fraser named climate editor for NCR

Congratulations to returned Maryknoll lay missioner Barbara Fraser (Class of 1989, Peru), who is starting Aug. 3, 2020, as the new climate editor for the National Catholic Reporter, editing its EarthBeat. Barbara will continue to live in Lima, where she has been an award-winning freelance writer since her Maryknoll Lay Missioners days. NCR is working “to grow EarthBeat into the world’s premier news source for environmental justice and faith.” Barbara is also the co-editor of Landscapes of Inequity: Environmental Justice in the Andes-Amazon Region, just published by the University of Nebraska Press. “The people suffering most from COVID-19 are also the ones most vulnerable to climate change and environmental injustices,” Barbara said. “The pandemic also reminds us of how dependent we are on one another and on our planet’s ecosystems. In EarthBeat, we will be exploring those interconnections and how we, as people of faith, are called to respond.”

Geri Hall and family volunteer in El Paso

In June 2019, returned lay missioner Geri Hall (Class of 1982, Peru); her husband, Dave Pasinksi (a former Maryknoll associate priest in Venezuela in the 1980s); and their two children, Micah and Mariah (in photo, with cap), served two weeks as volunteers with migrants at an Annunciation House shelter in El Paso, Texas. The shelter, an old motel, was being closed that summer, as a result of escalating U.S. policies at the border. Dave wrote in Syracuse.com: “Our own family is now ‘heart –locked’ with anguish and painful questions and treasured memories of those who embraced us with gratitude and we joined with in desperate hope.” See also the family’s reflections One, Two and Three here.

Nana’s Button Box

Every Mother’s Day, Celine Woznica (Class of 1981, Nicaragua and Mexico) honors her grandmother’s button box as the centerpiece of her dining room table. “Nana’s button box connects me with my mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. Each button tells a story. They rode in Model Ts and danced the Twist. Now their stories continue. When my friend Donna posted a photo of “ear savers” she was crocheting for people who wear masks all day, I asked if I could help by sewing on buttons from Nana’s button box. What joy! I don’t know who will wear these ear savers, but I know they are doing their part to stop the spread of the virus. Buttons—they connect us!”

Sharon Lavery Receives Covid-19 ‘Miracle’

Sharon Lavery (Class of 1977, Guatemala and U.S.) writes: My cell phone’s jingle at the height of the COVID-19 crisis brought a miracle when Norma called. I work in a program for people with cancer, where most of my patients are undocumented immigrants. Thirty-one year old Norma was a mother of a toddler, wife of a day laborer, and woman with thyroid cancer. When several treatments failed, her husband couldn’t find work, and bills mounted, they decided to return to Mexico. Knowing that immigrants often go home to die, I assumed Norma’s life had ended until she called, telling me she is healthy and gave birth to a baby boy seven months ago. But that wasn’t why she called. Knowing of the many deaths in New York, Norma called to see if I was OK. She reacted with joy when I told her my family and I are well.

Sam Stanton and Cecilia Espinoza’s Letter From Chile

Dear friends, Cecilia and I look forward to getting home, but it will also be difficult to say good-bye to Chile and family. Here is a quick update for all of you who hold Chile in your heart and are concerned for your friends—most of them in working class or very poor neighborhoods in Santiago and other parts of the country. On Sunday, Cecilia joined Judy Ress, Karen Andersen and others in the International Women’s Day March that gathered almost 2 million women just in Santiago. It was an amazing event and fairly peaceful in the beginning, but as the afternoon went on there were incidents of carabinero violence toward participants and later that evening street violence and destruction. As we head back to the States, we do so with heavy hearts and preoccupation. Samuel & Cecilia

Wynnie-Fred Victor Hinds interviewed in WaterWire

Wynnie-Fred Victor Hinds (Class of 1994, Venezuela) was one of the women interviewed by WaterWire in celebration of women’s history month.
My career highlight so far has been… Receiving the Maryknoll Bishop McCarthy Spirit of Mission award, last August, for my community service and social justice work.
One piece of advice I’d tell my younger self is… To cherish the quality time you have with family and friends because you might not get the opportunity again.
I love to show up at my job every day because… It’s challenging and I get the sense I’m accomplishing something important. Read the full story here.
 

Barbara Fraser covers Amazon Synod for Catholic News Service

Former Maryknoll lay missioner Barbara Fraser (Class of 1989, Peru) is covering the Oct. 6-27, 2019 Synod of Bishops for the Amazon in Rome for Catholic News Service. She also wrote a 13-part background series in advance of the synod.  Here is her first article from Rome.

Dan Moriarty arrested at immigrant action at U.S. Capitol

Returned missioner Dan Moriarty (Class of 1995, Bolivia), who works for the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, was among those arrested July 18 at the U.S. Capitol during a prayer vigil and civil disobedience called Catholic Action for Immigrant Children. MOGC was among the organizers of the event. Dan is pictured in this photo from the Washington Post. Pray for immigrant children, our country, our government and for Dan and the other Catholic activists. And consider what you can do too. Read more at MOGC and the Washington Post.

NCR praises Judy Ress’ novels

Congratulations to Judy Ress (Class of 1990, Chile) who has published her second novel Different Gods (iUniverse). Her debut novel was Blood Flowers. Both novels were influenced by the four churchwomen martyred in El Salvador in 1980. Ress says she was traumatized by the murder of the four women. “Dorothy Kazel replaced me on the Cleveland Mission Team. I could as easily have been driving the van with Jean to pick up Ita and Maura.” Haunted by her deep connections to these women, she took to fiction to get at the inside stories of women like them. She tells Mary Hunt that fiction was the perfect vehicle to convey their faith, loves, losses, failings and enduring commitments. “I admit to being on a crusade to raise up these amazing nuns who work in the trenches,” she says. “They are the real heroines of the Catholic Church.” Read more at the National Catholic Reporter.

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