Sowing peace, hope and partnership - Maryknoll Lay Missioners
Home » Support Us » Sowing peace, hope and partnership
Restorative justice circle with pastoral workers in Curuá, Brazil

A restorative justice circle with pastoral workers in Curuá, Diocese of Óbidos, in Brazil’s Amazon region (part of a restorative justice course given by Joanne Blaney)

We have the task … of sowing peace where there is discord
or courage where there is weakness or fear. 

— Mother Mary Joseph Rogers, founder of the Maryknoll Sisters

Dear friends,

Where there is conflict, we must sow peace through nonviolence efforts and restorative justice. Where there is fear, we must offer hope, help, prayer and partnership. It is what God calls us to do, and we know it is right and just.

Soon approaching our 50th anniversary, Maryknoll Lay Missioners has been blessed to be able to send almost 1,000 women, men and children to answer this call by serving and doing mission work in 35 countries.

People like Joanne Blaney. A Maryknoll lay missioner since 1991, Joanne works in restorative justice, violence prevention, popular education and with homeless persons. She provides restorative justice training all across Brazil — to women’s groups, inmates in maximum security prisons and pastoral workers along the Amazon river; as well as to workers in state courts in northeastern and southern Brazil and community groups in São Paulo’s favelas.

She writes, “The struggle to be a nonviolent person and to learn nonviolent ways to work in our communities is one that unites us … Little by little, we can work to change attitudes, actions and structures that cause so much violence and help folks to heal from violence.”

Joanne’s impact as a lay missioner for more than 30 years has been an inspiration to all who know her. But she isn’t the only one who is leaving a remarkable and fruitful legacy.

Maryknoll Lay Missioners has a storied past, we have a compelling present, and we have a strong future, thanks to generous partners like you, who give so generously to support our commitment to nonviolence and service around the world. Thank you!

Please help us continue to sow the seeds of peace by supporting our missioners and missioner families in the nine countries in Africa, Asia and the Americas where we serve. There is still much that we can do together.




When Joanne writes, “little by little,” she is speaking of the reality that it can take time for peace and reconciliation to grow in war-scorched soil, or where divisions and discord have fomented for years and even generations.

But there is nothing little about the difference that she and our other missioners are making. Each day, lives are transformed through their cooperative efforts with their communities.

Joanne shares the story of Maria Elena, a Brazilian fisherwoman, who confronts violence in her life in the forms of environmental degradation and commercial exploitation of natural resources, as well as domestic violence in her community in the Amazon area of Pará. “People here have lots of suffering in their lives,” Maria Elena says.

Joanne Blaney leads a restorative justice course for women pastoral leaders in the Diocese of Óbidos, Pará in the Amazon.

The restorative justice courses Joanne and her team have offered, Maria Elena says, are helping her and the other participants to learn ways to deal with conflicts, understand what forgiveness really is, and find paths to restoring people and relationships:

How can we learn how to live well together again, working as companions on the journey, as the Gospel calls us to do? I began my journey in the church and believe that I am called and sent by God, and that each of us is also called and sent.

I want to be a multiplier of this course in my community and other river communities. All of us need to learn how to organize and work collectively against this violence.

I love Maria Elena’s commitment to restoration and to hope and faith. “To be a multiplier.” For while some seeds are carried by the wind, seeds of hope are carried in the hearts and hands of those who take them forth and offer them to others: “Here, share what I have learned.”

Thank you for sharing what you have to give. Please send a gift today, if you can. And please keep our lay missioners in your prayers, just as you are in mine.

In hope and shared purpose,

Elvira Ramirez
Executive Director

P.S. I will close my letter where I started — with the words of one of Maryknoll’s founders, Bishop James A. Walsh: “The true proficiency of the soul consists not in much thinking but in much loving.” Indeed! Thank you for helping us love much.


Be a multiplier for nonviolence and peace.

Please give to help lay missioners in their work for
justice, compassion and the dignity of all creation.


Elvira Ramirez
Elvira Ramirez is Maryknoll Lay Missioners’ executive director.