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Returned Missioner News

Teaching English in Cairo and a wide range of parish work

February 2024: Bonny Brunner Prudhomme (Class of 1985 – Korea, fourth from left in photo) writes, “After my time in Korea as Maryknoll lay missioner, my international experiences have been limited to summers in Cairo teaching English to Egyptian seminarians. This, however, does not mean that Maryknoll did not work its spell on me. I had left the U.S. as a spectator Catholic and came back after Maryknoll to find myself energized. While teaching full-time as a math professor, I completed a pastoral theology degree and became fully engaged in a wide range of commitments in my local parish. When I retired in 2018, my husband, Jon (far right), and I took on even more roles at church. Most recently we were asked to co-chair RCIA. My first response was, No way, but I quickly changed my mind when I learned who was going through the program (the photo is from the Rite of Election). Which brings us back to Maryknoll: How can we resist God’s call to serve others (here or overseas) and when do we start?”

Wynnie-Fred Victor Hinds joins MKLM Board

February 2024: Wynnie-Fred Victor Hinds (Class of 1994 – Venezuela) has joined Maryknoll Lay Missioners’ board of directors. Wynnie spent six years in Barquisimeto, Venezuela, with Maryknoll Lay Missioners. Since returning to Newark, New Jersey, in 2000, she has been a tireless advocate for environmental justice. She has been active in several New Jersey-based environmental groups and currently serves as co-chair of the board of the Newark Environmental Commission. In addition, Wynnie is the founder and executive director of Stepping Stones Resources, a nonprofit advocacy and education organization that addresses the environment, health and quality of life. In 2019, she was one of the two first recipients of Maryknoll Lay Missioners’ Bishop McCarthy Spirit of Mission Award. “I’m looking forward to reconnecting with old friends, colleagues and Maryknoll again,” Wynnie says, “Hopefully my contributions to the work of the board will be helpful.” Many thanks to Anita Klueg (Class of 2003 – Kenya), who rotated off the board after completing seven years of service.

Returned missioner is rector of Jesuit University in Guadalajara

February 2024: For the past two years, Jesuit Father Alex Zatyrka, who served as a Maryknoll lay missioner (Class of 1985 – Bolivia) in Cochabamba, has led ITESO Jesuit University in Guadalajara, Mexico, as its rector. Shortly after completing his service with Maryknoll, he joined the Jesuits and studied and then taught theology. He has been the executive secretary of the Theology Commission of the Jesuits’ Conference of Provincials of Latin America (CPAL) as well as a professor at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. A highly respected theologian and biblical scholar, Father Alex has also served at Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City and as rector of the Universidad Iberoamericana in León. On his website, he provides a wide variety of Spanish-language spiritual resources (daily scripture reflections, an online Sunday Mass, contemplative prayer, Ignatian spirituality and mystagogia).

Jill Foster continues social justice work in Dayton, Ohio

February 2024: Jill Foster (Class of 2019- Haiti) writes: “After returning from Haiti last May, I agonized over a job or career that would give me the same fulfillment that my time in Gwomòn did. Maryknoll is hard to beat when it comes to meaningful work. Fortunately I was not on my own. The Cincinnati Affiliates had my back, and returned missioner Mike Gable sent me a job description for a position in the archdiocese’s Catholic Social Action Office. I am now regional director of Catholic Social Action and live in Dayton, Ohio, where I went to university. I find myself becoming busier than ever working with groups tackling social justice issues and promoting Catholic Social Teaching. There is even a growing population of Haitians forming in Springfield, which is part of my region. Attending a special New Year’s Day Mass in Haitian Kreyòl to celebrate Haitian Independence brought back many good memories of Haiti. Still in the midst of winter, I long for Haiti’s warm sun, the warm food and the warm smiles I once greeted every day. I pray that the situation in Haiti — all the violence and insecurity has increased since I’ve left — cools down and that the people can find some peace at last.”

Migrant ministry continues to evolve

January 2024: Returned missioner Celine Woznica (Class of 1981 – Nicaragua, Mexico) writes in an update to Chicago’s Maryknoll Affiliates: “The Migrant Ministry has me so busy that I am behind on many things…. It has grown so much! We started off providing showers at a closed rectory in Oak Park for migrants sleeping at a nearby Chicago police station. Our ministry has expanded and now we are located at a closed parish school (also in Oak Park).” The effort that Celine has been coordinating has attracted extensive local and national media coverage. “We have been covered in the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times, and even a few photos in the Washington Post. The Christian Broadcasting Network’s 700 Club (segment starts at 12:45) carried a feature, and most recently the Scripps News Service.” The Archdiocese of Chicago produced this video.

Cortney Freshwater completes Appalachian Trail

November 2023: Cortney Freshwater (Class of 2018 – Bolivia) writes: “On Sept. 12, I finished my thru hike of the Appalachian Trail. My journey began in March 2023 at the southern terminus in Georgia, where I had no idea what was in store for me. I quickly received the trail name ‘Sunshine.’ As I hiked one mountain range after another, I slowly found peace; I laughed loudly with strangers who became family; I felt pain; and mostly, I just kept walking. Despite the challenges that one would naturally encounter spending months in the wilderness, my feet somehow managed to carry me nearly 2,200 miles to the summit of Mount Katahdin in Maine. The feeling of reaching the top of that mountain after walking through 14 states was overwhelming.… Being on the trail reassured me of who I am and what matters most in life. Being back in civilization these last few months, though, has been a bit of a hard transition. However, I recently started a job as the family skills coach at Wayne County Children’s Services, where I now find joy in accompanying families and teaching parents life skills that will hopefully help guide them throughout their lives.”

RMs’ Gathering expresses desire for more in-person events

Sept. 2023: Thirty returned missioners met with the AAM Advisory Council in a Virtual Gathering on Sunday, Sept. 10 to discuss how to be more connected with each other and to Maryknoll Lay Missioners. Returned missioners were anxious to begin meeting in person locally or regionally, both with other lay missioners who live nearby and with Maryknoll Affiliates groups. The Advisory Council will work on ways to implement the meeting’s recommendations. Participants also expressed a desire for better communication about what is happening with MKLM. During the gathering, the Jubilee Classes were recognized.

Beth Rademacher reflects on Maryknoll-wide retreat

October 2023: Beth Rademacher (Class of 1983 – Brazil) writes: From Oct. 6 to 9, the first-ever Maryknoll-wide retreat, “Living in a New Creation,” brought more than 200 Maryknoll affiliates, lay missioners, sisters, priests and brothers, staff and other interested people together virtually from around the globe. Everyone who was participating was deeply engaged and deeply moved. Each day opened and ended with a prayer experience created by missioners from the four continents where Maryknollers serve. And throughout, I experienced and witnessed that our days together were a prayer. A prayer of deep gratitude, of remembering and of hoping. A prayer of learning and longing, of listening, of sharing and of wondering. The goal was not to produce a final document, but one of listening and sharing, an “open[ing] up to a disposition of learning” (Maureen H. O’Connell). You can watch the presentations and plenary sessions here: Diarmuid O’Murchu, MSC. Maureen O’Connell, and Robert Ellsberg. So many informative, creative, challenging, encouraging and energizing ideas were shared. “The Spirit is the great energizer!” (D. O’Murchu).

Woznicas assist asylum seekers bussed from Texas to Chicago

July 2023: Celine and Don Woznica (Class of 1981 – Nicaragua, Mexico) are keeping busy these days, helping to organize a wide-ranging local assistance effort for mostly Venezuelan asylum seekers. The asylum seekers are a part of the more than 8,000 whom the state of Texas has bussed up to Chicago and who for the past few months have been sleeping on the floors of several Chicago police stations. The Woznicas have helped to organize an ad hoc group of volunteers in their Oak Park, Illinois area. The group is connected through a WhatsApp messaging channel, and has rallied around the asylum seekers, providing shelter, food, clothing, showers, gift cards, phones and SIM cards, rides to doctors’ appointments and grocery stores, and arranging for schooling. “We’ll get a notice about the arrival of a family and then we all hustle to help them,” Celine told the Wednesday Journal. “All the volunteers do what they can do. These folks come with nothing and they have crossed seven countries to get here.”

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