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Maryknoll retooling a good sign of the times

Maryknoll, the Catholic Foreign Mission Society of America, heeding the call of the pope and reading the signs of the times, is renewing both its leadership and vision for the new millennium.

In October 1996, the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers completed a yearlong internal evaluation of their world mission. Their meeting in Hong Kong brought forth new leadership and a vision statement that "proclaims God's work and mercy to all."

"We join the struggles for justice of the poor, indigenous peoples and women against economic, social and cultural oppression," the statement continues. "We join with them in announcing the healing, reconciling and liberating Jesus."

The new superior general, Fr. Raymond Finch, and the new General Council were installed Dec. 15, 1996, by the president of the bishops' conference, Archbishop Anthony Pilla of Cleveland.

And in January 1997 the Congregation of Maryknoll Sisters completed a two-year process of consulting more than 700 sisters about their common mission in 30 countries. The new Congregational Leadership Team elected in their general assembly in New York will be installed April 1. The sisters have always seen themselves as Americans building an international missionary effort of the world church. This goal is now reflected in the fact that the majority of their new members are from Asia, Africa and Latin America. This they see as a providential response to their multicultural mission.

The Hong Kong meeting also concluded that "globalization" is the other face of world mission. Its various spiritual, economic, cultural, political and social challenges are precisely the stimulus requiring renewal and innovation for world mission in the new century.

In May, the Maryknoll Mission Association of the Faithful, the community of lay missioners that brings professional and personal skills to various continents, will also renew its leadership and reassess its more than 20 years of mission service.

Meanwhile, the Maryknoll Associates (non-Maryknoll priests, brothers and sisters in five-year personal commitments to mission apostolates) and Maryknoll Affiliates (local groups of Catholics committed to a global vision in support of world mission) continue to flourish.

Maryknoll has been a proud chapter in U.S. church history. Since 1911, the blood of its several martyrs in China, Latin America and elsewhere has been the seed of Christians all over the globe.

Orbis Books continues to bring prophetic new theological and cultural insight from mission countries to a wider U.S. public. The Maryknoll mission magazine continues to popularize this global conversation of the U.S. Catholic church with on-site Maryknoll missioners and the human communities they serve.

Maryknoll lives among, works with and celebrates human diversity around the globe. The rich experience of its mission outreach to the world can be a beacon illuminating an American church seeking its mission for the new millennium.

National Catholic Reporter, March 28, 1997