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Returned Missioner News

Nancy Sosnowski works to build ‘beloved community’

April 2021: Nancy Sosnowski (Class of 1991 – Thailand) writes: I’m very active in several social justice movements including Pax Christi. My local group provides support to the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless and the Essex County Community Organization referred to as ECCO. We are diverse group from the North of Boston working with teams in developing community policing policies as well as community-based investment funding. We are researching what builds wealth for low-income communities, especially communities of color, in the long term, while providing a sustainable living with opportunities to provide good paying jobs. Motivated by our faith and commitment to our underserved communities, our goal is to create the beloved community as reflected in the gospels and we work for social justice reform and local grassroots actions in business and industry. Through the years I’ve always stayed in contact with the Maryknoll lay mission community. I’ve enjoyed reunions and multi-media outreach, especially the newsletters, special programs and our YouTube videos! I currently enjoy sponsoring a lay missioner with a monthly donation. To be active in peace and social justice issues are the core of who I am as a missioner!

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Greg Fischer Appointed to COVID-19 Committee

January 2021: Greg Fischer (Class of 2012 – Brazil) was recently appointed to the 5 Star Committee of San Miguel County in Colorado. The committee encourages businesses to implement safety measures beyond what is already required by public health orders and guidelines in order to slow the spread of COVID-19. The objective of the committee is to meld public health precautions and increase economic activity in the southwest region of Colorado during the pandemic. As a missioner, Greg was twice elected to public office in Brazil to serve as a representative for the immigrant and refugee community of his borough in São Paulo. During that time, his municipal council tackled three epidemics — dengue, zika, and yellow fever. He’ll be looking to apply his experience as a lay missioner to tackle the challenges in his local community in Colorado.

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

November 2020: Liz Mach (Class of 1976 – Tanzania, U.S. and Sudan) writes: “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

November 2020: 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

July 2020: 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

August 2020: 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.

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