Monthly Archives: November 2018

Returned lay missioner Jim McLaughlin honored by Cambodian government

Medal honors Jim’s contributions to Cambodia’s health care

Jim McLaughlin receives the medal from the Secretary of State for the Ministry of Health in Cambodia.

Jim McLaughlin receives the medal from the Secretary of State for the Ministry of Health in Cambodia.

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — On Nov. 16, Jim McLaughlin, a returned Maryknoll lay missioner who served in Bolivia and Cambodia, received a medal from the Government of Cambodia for creating the bacteriological media lab to provide agar plates for provincial hospital labs and for helping to improve the health care of the Cambodian people. Agar plates are Petri dishes that contain jelly-like substances that are used to culture microorganisms.

“Roberta and I left our careers because we’d had many privileges, great families, a good education, world travels, and we wanted to give something back while we still had our health,” Jim told Microbe magazine in 2012, referring to his wife and their decision to become lay missioners in 2003. Deeply concerned about social justice, they first served as mentors to 50 street boys in Cochabamba, Bolivia, before they moved to Cambodia.

In the 2012 article, Jim recalls that he fırst learned about–and protested against–U.S. forces bombing Cambodia in the spring of 1970 while a graduate student at Tulane University School of Medicine. “From 1965 to 1973 during the Vietnam War, the United States dropped more bombs on neighboring but neutral Cambodia than were dropped on Germany and Japan during World War II. This bombing contributed to the fall of the Lon Nol government in Cambodia and the takeover in 1975 by the Pol Pot-led Khmer Rouge. Under the Khmer Rouge regime, educated and skilled Cambodians were executed or removed to rural work camps, where many died from hunger or disease.”

JimMcLaughlin2While studying the Cambodian language, Jim realized that he was one of only two Ph.D. clinical microbiologists in the country. He then decided that, rather than working with street children, he should once again use his expertise in diagnostic microbiology. He began working as the liaison of the Centers for Disease Control’s Global AIDS Program to the Cambodian National Institutes of Public Health (NIPH).

In mission with MKLM, Jim and fellow clinical microbiologist Ellen Jo Baron (Stanford Medical Center) established the Diagnostic Microbiology Development Program (DMDP). With this Los Altos, California-based nonprofit organization, they have been recruiting U.S. clinical microbiologists to visit and train Cambodian laboratory staff.

JimMcLaughlin3Jim’s work has contributed to the treatment of bacterial infections and of sexual transmission of diseases and to the implementation of standard operating procedures for labs. He also helped to create research projects to generate resources for the labs. He collaborated in the review of the national tuberculosis program and in the training of microbiologists.

Jim and Roberta are currently retired in San Francisco, but they continue to be involved in mission and social-justice issues. Jim continues to work with DMDP and to travel to Cambodia with other microbiologists.

Click here to learn more about Jim and Roberta’s service with MKLM.

Photos by Joanne Letchford and Roberta McLaughlin


A wheelbarrow library opens up new worlds

A lay missioner in El Salvador brings books—
and learns to sign from the heart

Julie loves to read the children's books lay missioner Rick Dixon brings in his "wheelbarrow library."

Julie loves to read the children’s books lay missioner Rick Dixon brings in his “wheelbarrow library.”

By Rick Dixon

Upon returning to La Esperanza after a few weeks away, my biggest desire is to visit the 35 families involved with our mobile wheelbarrow library. I fill my wheelbarrow with books and hit the road after a night of heavy rains. The path along the railroad tracks, which serves as Main Street, is full of gullies and holes.

Libro” (book), Brandon shouts excitedly. He’s one of the library’s youngest clients. I then make another stop at Julie’s. She’s a bit taken aback by my long delay and asks where I’ve been. As soon as she hears “visiting my mother,” she is satisfied and takes a few books.

The path continues to become rougher, and one book pops out of the wheelbarrow into the mud. As I pick it up, a woman and little girl pass by. “Would you like a book?” I ask. Only the woman turns and approaches. The girl keeps walking, but when she discovers the woman is no longer at her side, she stops, turns, and walks toward us.

Many times I have seen this girl along the tracks. Her eyes are like dark stones staring up from the bottom of a river. Her forehead and neck are slightly too large; her mouth twists in. Whenever I’ve asked her if she wants a book, she turns her copper-toned face away so quickly that her brown hair swings around her head like some veil. Then she runs and hides.

Leslie has now become a regular of Rick Dixon's wheelbarrow library.

Leslie has now become a regular of Rick Dixon’s wheelbarrow library.

The tall, slender woman says that she’s been wanting a book but hasn’t seen me for a while. I explain that I’ve been away, and she introduces herself as Jasmine and her daughter as Leslie, who is now hiding behind her mother. Jasmine takes a book from the wheelbarrow—Doley, the Guatemalan Street Dog—and shows it to her daughter. “Do you want this one?” she asks, speaking very slowly. Leslie doesn’t respond, so the mother points to the book and then to Leslie. “My daughter doesn’t hear or speak well,” she says.

“I’d like to read a book and sign the story to her. We’re learning sign language.” When she opens the book, the girl’s eyes blossom wide. The page shows a volcano with the sun’s colors all over it. Doley is barking up at two quetzals in flight. The text says, “Doley keeps birds up in the sky.” Leslie takes the well-used book as if it were a Christmas vision.

Since then, I’ve made a few rounds of book lending to Leslie and Jasmine. The last time I asked the mother how to say “How are you” in sign language. She placed open hands on each side of her heart and fingered them up to her shoulders and then put two thumbs in the air.

A few days later, I saw Leslie returning home from school and asked how she was. Her face opened curious and tender but then she grinned with wincing eyes, conveying that my sign language clearly needed a lot of practice. So I went home and spoke in finger and thumbs in front of a mirror until I could feel “How are you” as a rhythmic and fluent place from the heart.

I look forward to seeing Leslie again, to see how I’m doing with my new language.

Rick Dixon is a Maryknoll Lay Missioner serving in the La Esperanza community of Cojutepeque. His ministry takes place in a squatter settlement that dates back to the Salvadoran civil war. He promotes education, family literacy, and adult and youth skills training to help people develop confidence, leadership skills, self-esteem and handicraft abilities. 

Watch a video of Rick’s orange wheelbarrow library here. 

Photos by Rick Dixon

Lay Missioner serves people with HIV in Kenya

Coralis Salvador gives HOPE in Mombasa 

Maryknoll Lay Missioner Coralis Salvador, right, exchanges thumbs-ups with Ali, Featured Image: Maryknoll Lay Missioner Coralis Salvador, right, and social worker Floriana Mwandoe work with Ali, a boy in the HOPE Project, as social worker Floriana Mwandoe looks on.

Maryknoll Lay Missioner Coralis Salvador, right, exchanges thumbs-ups with Ali, a boy in the HOPE Project, as social worker Floriana Mwandoe looks on.

By Sean Sprague

Coralis Salvador quotes part of a homily a Kenyan priest gave many years ago: “We are the body of Mary and we give birth to Jesus … not by words but by how we relate to one another.” That message, she says, has kept her on the path she has traveled for almost 18 years as a Maryknoll lay missioner in Mombasa, Kenya. Today we are walking through Gwanahola, a slum on the western outskirts of Mombasa, as Coralis, wearing a giant sun visor, takes us on that path.

As we pass little shacks of mud, cardboard or recycled wooden crates, with tin roofs and mud floors, residents give us a friendly wave.

We come to the home of Nazmin, a tiny woman with a bashful smile, who is HIV-positive. (Her name and the names of other clients are pseudonyms to protect their identity.) Nazmin introduces her 9-year-old son, Ali. He is not only HIV-positive but also deaf. He attends a special school, with costs and uniforms covered by the HOPE Project, which Coralis administers. HOPE, she says, is an acronym for Helping Orphans Pursue Education.

Coralis explains that the HOPE Project is an offshoot of a community-based health care and AIDS relief project, Mombasa Catholic CBHC, which was started by the late Maryknoll Brother John Mullen in 1997 and modeled after a similar project in Nairobi. HOPE began in 1999 to assist children of CBHC clients. It has served more than 2,600 children.

Coralis Salvador, left, with Mary Mwandingo, a community health volunteer, and social worker Floriana Mwandoe visit a school where the HOPE Project donates uniforms to needy students.

Coralis Salvador, right, walks with (from left) Mary Mwandingo, Floriana Mwandoe and Nazmin through the Gwanahola slum in Mombasa, Kenya.

On our walk we are joined by Floriana Mwandoe, a social worker and counselor, who will take over Coralis’ job when she retires at the end of 2019. Mary Mwandingo is also with us. She is one of 400 community health volunteers (CHVs) who visit the sick in their neighborhoods, identifying children in need and helping them get back to school. Mary gives Nazmin some welcome gifts of milk, flour and beans. She explains how essential proper nutrition is for staying healthy while living with AIDS.

Fifteen years ago in Mombasa, those with HIV were virtually under a death sentence. Since 2005, thanks to the widespread use of antiretroviral medicines—which are free in Kenya—people with HIV can go on living normal, healthy lives if they continue taking their prescriptions. Part of the work of the volunteers is to ensure clients take their medication every day.

Under the auspices of the Catholic Archdiocese of Mombasa, the health volunteers receive training at workshops run in each of 11 parishes by visiting nurses and clinical officers. They discuss their work in the communities and share the feelings that inevitably come in performing such a heartrending ministry. “As they go from house to house, they must be totally fresh and not carry accumulated emotions around with them,” Coralis explains.

Coralis Salvador, left, with Mary Mwandingo, a community health volunteer, and social worker Floriana Mwandoe visit a school where the HOPE Project donates uniforms to needy students.

Coralis Salvador, left, with Mary Mwandingo, a community health volunteer, and social worker Floriana Mwandoe visit a school where the HOPE Project donates uniforms to needy students.

The 71-year-old missioner, who has five grown children and four grandchildren, has a special fondness for the community health volunteers. “The women I work with are prayerful and an inspiration to me,” she says. “They work hard and have their own suffering. … They see God’s presence in their lives because of their strong faith.”

Moving on, we come to the home of Mariamu, who has had AIDS for many years. She is skin and bones but has an enormous smile. She and her healthy daughter, 12-year-old Halima, live in a single room off a courtyard shared by several families. It is stiflingly hot and dark inside their home.

Coralis gives mother and child a hug while Mary gives them flour, beans and milk. Halima is a HOPE client. Receiving a uniform and supplies, she attends a local primary school that otherwise would have been unaffordable, despite school being officially “free” in Kenya. It is the required extras that cost and so exclude many children from education.

HOPE, Coralis explains, also runs a learning center that provides additional schooling for children on Saturdays. During school holidays the kids come three or four times a week for tutoring and a light meal. The center keeps them off the streets while providing a safe place offering workshops, sports and library books.

Coralis, who was born in the Philippines, says she became sensitized to the needs of people with HIV and AIDS when she lived in San Francisco, Calif., in the 1980s and knew many people who died of the virus before medication was available.

After her children had flown the nest and Coralis was pondering what next, her parish priest suggested she apply to the Maryknoll Lay Missioners. “I contacted them, got approved and here I am, in Kenya since 2001!” she says.

A short-term volunteer, L. Susan Slavin, once came to help in Mombasa and was so moved by Coralis’ work that the two women co-authored an Orbis book titled, What’s so Blessed About Being Poor?

Coralis explains that serving and living in the moment in Africa may sound easy, but it takes a long while to get there. “We have so many attachments and fears and you need to totally surrender,” she says.

Coralis has truly surrendered herself in Africa. She has renewed her contract with the Maryknoll Lay Missioners several times.

Walking with Coralis, along with Floriana, Mary and the other health volunteers and seeing their love for the people they serve, is indeed seeing Jesus born today.

Photos by Sean Sprague

From the November-December issue of Maryknoll Magazine



Maryknoll magazine remembers the late Mary D’Arcy

For 28 years, Mary D’Arcy served MKLM as staff psychologist.

Mary D'Arcy (right) with returned Maryknoll Lay Missioners (from left) María Aguirre, Sharon Raynor and Eileen Charleton. (Maryknoll Mission Archives/New York)

Mary D’Arcy (right) with returned Maryknoll Lay Missioners (from left) María Aguirre, Sharon Raynor and Eileen Charleton. (Maryknoll Mission Archives/New York)

By Deirdre Cornell

Among the many gifts Mary D’Arcy shared with her beloved Maryknoll family was her remarkable ability to be present. “When Mary sat down with you, it was as if you were the only person she had ever worked with, or even the only one in the world,” says Sam Stanton, former director of the Maryknoll Lay Missioners.

Mary served as staff psychologist for MKLM from 1976 to 2004 and after her retirement volunteered her services.

She died on Aug. 2, 2017, but her contributions to mission are not forgotten.

Mary Gray was born in Meadville, Pennsylvania, on Oct. 25, 1930. She and her twin sister, Marie, together entered the Maryknoll Sisters in 1948.

After completing a bachelor’s degree in education from Maryknoll Teachers College, Mary spent 11 years as a missioner in Peru and Bolivia. Returning to the United States, she earned a master’s degree in psychology from Fordham University.

Eventually she left the Maryknoll Sisters and married Paul D’Arcy, a former Maryknoll priest. They had a loving marriage and raised two sons.

Mary maintained a lifelong connection to the Maryknoll Sisters through the Congregation’s “Full Circle” association for former members. She also belonged to the Maryknoll Affiliates’ Subway Chapter in New York City.

As a psychologist with MKLM, she was adept at family dynamics, says her friend and co-worker Teresa McGee, adding, “She could assess a person’s gifts and vulnerabilities for mission placements.”

Recalling Mary’s skills as a group facilitator, McGee says, “No matter how complex an issue might be, Mary broke it down into manageable pieces and helped others do the same.”

But perhaps McGee sums up Mary’s greatest gift to Maryknoll in these words: “Mary had a huge heart that held all of our stories as a sacred trust.”

Deirdre Cornell is a former Maryknoll Lay Missioner who served in Mexico. She is author of three Orbis Books, including Jesus Was a Migrant and American Madonna: Crossing Borders with the Virgin Mary.

Photo courtesy of Maryknoll Mission Archives/New York

From the November/December 2018 issue of Maryknoll magazine

We give thanks for Rehema

Rehema Nyorobi with children at the Shalom Kindergarten in Mwanza, Tanzania.

Rehema Nyorobi with children at the Shalom Kindergarten in Mwanza, Tanzania.

Maryknoll Lay Missioner Susan Carpenter writes from Mwanza, Tanzania:

As we near the celebrations of Thanksgiving and Christmas, we remember with special gratitude the life of Rehema Nyorobi. Rehema recently passed away after a brief illness at age 50. Thankfully her children are being well cared for by other family members. Rehema had a way of uplifting the lives of all those she was with.

When we first met, I asked Rehema to help me clean our Shalom Kindergarten classroom a few days before school. We were on our hands and knees with soap and water, but we had such a good time visiting with each other that we forgot the time. From that day forward, no matter how simple our activity, our companionship was blessed.

Being in the company of such a loving and cheerful person who was always so good to the children and to me was a gift I’ll never forget. Somehow I believe she is still blessing us, and is blessed herself in heaven.

Photo courtesy of Susan Carpenter


Speaker: Joe Loney, MKLM

Location: St. Francis of Assisi Church
101 West Church Avenue, Masontown, PA

Pastor: Fr. William G. Berkey

Masses: at Masontown site:
Sat. 4:00pm    Sun.  8:00am, 11:30am

Masses: at Footedale site:
Sat. 4:00pm    Sun.  9:30am

Maryknollers tackle AIDS and poverty in East Africa

The theme for World AIDS Day on Dec. 1, 2018 is “Know Your Status.”


Maryknoll Lay Missioner Susan Nagele (fourth from left) on World AIDS Day in Mombasa, Kenya in 2010.

By Dr. Susan Nagele

Mary was as skinny as a rail. Now 20, she was orphaned many years ago when her parents died of HIV/AIDS. We had been trying for years to get her tested to know if she, too, was infected. She was a bright girl who scored well and went to a prestigious high school on scholarship but she couldn’t find a job. Unemployment among young people in Kenya is about 50 percent.

Mary had been volunteering at St. Patrick Dispensary in the informal settlement called Bangladesh in Mombasa, Kenya, where she was given a little money for transport and lunch.

One day, Mary came to work very sick. She was so poor she couldn’t afford to miss working for a little food. I again asked her why she was so afraid to be tested. She said that if she was positive she would feel terrible. It would mean that she was infected by her mother and everyone would know.

I talked about bad luck, a loving God who doesn’t judge and the real problem, which is people who judge. She shouldn’t let them make her feel bad. I told her that if she was positive we have medicines to make her stronger and healthier. In my desperation I told her that I am sick too and have to take medicine four times a day. I thank God that there is medicine to help me.

All of the sudden she said OK. I went quiet. She told me that she wanted a certain person to test her, and she didn’t want anyone else to know the result. The test came out negative. Mary was skinny because she was poor and didn’t have enough food.

Stigma and fear

The United Nations has set a target to diagnose 90 percent of people infected with HIV by the Year 2020. Currently only 70 percent of infected people know their status. Stigma and fear are major reasons why people like Mary refuse testing.

At the Uzima Centre in Mwanza, Tanzania, a major concern for HIV-positive clients is their diet. Paulina prepares flour for them—a combination of ground corn, rice, millet, sorghum and peanuts. Here she is preparing the peanuts.

At the Uzima Centre in Mwanza, Tanzania, a major concern for HIV-positive clients is their diet. Paulina prepares flour for them—a combination of ground corn, rice, millet, sorghum and peanuts. Here she is preparing the peanuts.

Mary’s poverty confirms the experience of Joanne Miya, a Maryknoll Lay Missioner in Tanzania. She works at Uzima Centre in the city of Mwanza, which provides education and counseling for HIV/AIDS.

The majority of problems they encounter are due to poverty, not HIV infection. On any given day, the Centre struggles to find a boy with HIV a bicycle so he can go to go to school; to help a mother find her HIV-positive daughter who is working as a prostitute; to assist an HIV-positive grandmother who has no income and is raising her grandchild.

If people had adequate income they would have better food, homes, and schooling. HIV is the straw that breaks their backs, already bent by the multiple burdens of poverty.

World AIDS Day 2018

The theme for World AIDS Day on December 1, 2018 is “Know Your Status.”

In Kenya, the Ministry of Health has adopted the World Health Organization guidelines for self-testing, and kits are available in pharmacies for $2 to $15, which is very expensive. Initial fears that people would react negatively and commit suicide have been unfounded. Thousands of people have used the kits successfully. The Ministry of Health plans to make them free in government facilities.

Father Rick Bauer is a Maryknoll priest who works with the Eastern Deanery AIDS Relief Program in Nairobi, Kenya. He is working with the World Health Organization and donors to make the kits available free of charge in faith-based organizations, too. The key to HIV self-testing is to link people with positive reactive home tests to clinics that can perform confirmation tests and follow up with care, treatment and support. Many of the implementing partners have limited resources to go into the communities. The Eastern Deanery AIDS Relief Program has over 1,200 community health workers who know their communities and can provide this needed link.

The city of Nairobi will mark Universal Children’s Day on November 20 with the theme Ending AIDS and TB in Children and Adolescents. After a Procession and an Interfaith Prayer Service, Faith leaders will lead by example with voluntary testing. There will be voluntary counseling and testing for youth and a workshop on HIV self-testing for faith communities. Children and youth will be encouraged to write letters to the government, the First Lady and pharmaceutical and diagnostic companies requesting improved access to HIV and TB information, testing and treatment. Fr. Bauer is a main coordinator of this initiative among faith-based organizations.

In Tanzania, the government occasionally gives HIV education on the radio and the local government “AIDS Committee” shows little interest, initiative or awareness when they visit the Uzima Centre. There has been no promotion of HIV self-testing and little preparation for World AIDS Day. There is no knowledge of Universal Children’s Day.

There is great disparity between the programs of these two countries. Fear, stigma and poverty are the scourges that prevent people from knowing their status. Maryknoll and other faith communities are leading the way.

Faith in action

On December 1, join the 24-hour vigil organized by the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns to pray for those living with HIV and AIDS and for those whose lives were cut short due to HIV or AIDS. Add your name and the time when you wish to pray on December 1 to the list at


Dr. Susan Nagele is a Maryknoll Lay Missioner and a family physician who returned to the United States in July from East Africa after 33 years of service.
This article was published in the November-December 2018 issue of NewsNotes.

Top photo courtesy of Dr. Susan Nagele, second photo courtesy of Joanne Miya.


Good news in South Sudan

In the midst of war and suffering, a lay missioner reflects on the hope he sees in the good people of South Sudan.

Gabe greeting primary students at Tambua Oct.09.2018 Gabe Photo2

Gabe greeting primary students at Tambua.

By Gabe Hurrish

YAMBIO, South Sudan — So much of the news in South Sudan has to deal with the problems this young country is facing. We hear of the constant and unremitting fighting going on all over the countryside. “Roads are not safe, don’t go out at night, stay away from certain places, watch what you say!” We hear of the famine. We hear of disease. We hear of every plague under the sun. We hear of the recent Peace Agreements and that everyone is skeptical. This sort of environment wears on a person and can slowly make one cynical.

Today I want to write about a positive spirit of South Sudan that I have noticed in just the short time I have been here. These types of stories don’t seem to make the headlines. Yet there are so many times when I see Jesus in the people around me.

The following are a few little anecdotes I have heard or experienced over the past 10 months in South Sudan:

Children playing in a wheelbarrow in Yambio, South Sudan.

Children playing in a wheelbarrow in Yambio, South Sudan.

Sister Margaret, Sister Peg and I went shopping one day. Sister Margaret had inadvertently forgotten something she had bought. The merchant trailed her down the streets to give it to her. “Here, Sister. You forgot this!” Now that is service with a smile. Since I have been helping with the shopping on Saturdays this has happened several times. Sister Margaret told me that one time a merchant had actually come all the way out to the college to deliver a purchased item that had inadvertently been left in the store. It is heart-warming to know there are good people in this world and honest merchants.

Brother Jim frequents a local coffee shop. He just likes to go and read a book while having a nice hot cup of coffee. One time he went to pay and the owner told him another patron had paid for him. He doesn’t speak the local language so he just nodded to the person. The South Sudanese man smiled a big grin. This happened a few more times with other patrons as well. So even South Sudanese can “pay it forward.”

Father Awassa was confronted with an emergency. He had to get a handwritten letter to Juba from Yambio today. He called the local airline company and, yes, there would be a plane arriving in a short time, but he must hurry to get the letter on board. Father Awassa finished the letter and rushed to the airport. The plane was already boarding when he handed the letter to the official. But Father Awassa did not know that there was a fee for the service. He had left in such a hurry he had no money whatsoever on him. He started to plead and beg the official that he would pay but for now he had no money. The official was not in a cooperative mood. He refused unless he got the money.

A motorcycle taxi driver was listening and quite enjoying the back and forth between the priest and government official. Finally, it looked like the letter would not go. It was then that this complete stranger stepped up and said, “Father, let me pay for the letter.” Father Awassa was amazed—taxi drivers work hard but are poor and rarely have money. The man started to pull out of this pocket and that pocket all sorts of wrinkled and dirty notes. He slowly collected enough South Sudanese pounds to pay the official for the letter delivery. Then the “Good Samaritan,” as Father Awassa called him, drove off.

Father Elia is a kind-hearted and soft-spoken priest. His spirit of serving his parish is so strong despite all the challenges and difficulties. He rarely thinks of his own problems and is always helping others. One day the people brought him a tortoise. He adopted that one and several more that the people found. When Father Elia went on a sabbatical for the first time in years and years, he brought the tortoises to our Solidarity Teacher Training College. Why? Because he knew we would take care of them. If he left them in his parish, he suspected the people would eat them. “There is too much killing in South Sudan. These tortoises deserve life too.” said Father Elia.

Ali was terrorized by Sudanese soldiers as a youth. They threatened to kill him two times and he was conscripted as a child soldier. Finally, after escaping, he moved from place to place until landing at our college in Yambio. He went through the Trauma Healing Course and found that it took away his nightmares. He is calmer now. He still uses the techniques when he feels the anger and anxiety rising in his heart. He is grateful to Solidarity with South Sudan for helping him heal.

Children getting water during school break.

Children getting water during school break.

A priest in a neighboring area asked Solidarity for help. He himself cannot go back to his parish area at the moment. The governor of that area wants him dead for speaking out against the abuses officials have perpetuated upon the people. He worries about a group of women who were kidnapped into the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) some time ago. This is an evil group that runs around the jungles of central Africa killing and looting. No one has been able to stop them so far. These women somehow escaped the LRA with the children they had after being raped by the LRA fighters.

Now they are shunned by society because they have this history of being in the LRA. They are forced to eke out a living in remote areas of the jungle. But they need help and the local community decided they will help them. The community will send two members to Solidarity to be trained as teachers. Not the first for Solidarity. STTC currently has two other graduates teaching in the bush to an isolated community. Amongst the violence and chaos, God is present to His lowly ones.

I was talking with some people outside our college. As we stood there chatting I felt something wet in my hand. I looked down and a little girl had come up and just put her cold, sweaty, little hand in mine. She wanted to greet the foreigner. I greeted her in the usual English, “How are you?” and she replied, “I am fine.” In Zande I then asked her name. “I am Isabella,” she said with a toothless smile. “How old are you, Isabella?” “I am 4.” Then off she went to play with her friends.

She didn’t know it, but she made my day. I thought about Isabella all day long and said a prayer for her every time she came to mind. She is the future of South Sudan. Her smile gives me hope that the future of South Sudan will change.

All of these stories show us that there is hope. There are always good people in every place at every time. They outnumber the bad people. They just don’t get the press or attention.

Thank God, the Holy Spirit moves among and in us.

Gabe Hurrish (MKLM Class of 2017) is a teacher at Solidarity Teacher Training College in Yambio, South Sudan, and works with Solidarity with South Sudan. 

All photos courtesy of Gabe Hurrish.

Maryknoll Leadership Statement on the Migrant Caravan

All four branches of Maryknoll call on U.S. leaders to
‘respond with compassion and dignity worthy of our nation’

Migrant Caravan

Migrants traveling as a caravan cross from Guatemala to Mexico, October 21, 2018. Photo by flickr/boichy

WASHINGTON, DC — As the migrant caravan that began in Honduras on October 12 made its way toward the United States, the leadership of Maryknoll Sisters, Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, Maryknoll Lay Missioners, and Maryknoll Affiliates released a statement (see below) asking the leaders of the United States to “listen to the cries of an oppressed people and to respond with compassion and dignity worthy of our nation.”

The statement, which was published online on November 5, called on the United States to work to transform our relationships with our southern neighbors to enable livable communities to flourish everywhere.


As the procession of desperate people from Central America walks its way north through Mexico bound for the United States, the leadership of the four organizations that share the Maryknoll name, the Maryknoll Sisters, Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, Maryknoll Lay Missioners, and Maryknoll Affiliates, call on the leaders of the United States to listen to the cries of an oppressed people and to respond with compassion and dignity worthy of our nation.

With each difficult step, the caravan’s members are asking the people of the United States to prepare, to open our arms and hearts, and to listen to the stories they have to tell – stories of violence, hunger and persecution, of pain, fear and hope. As these vulnerable people approach, some with babies in their arms, many children themselves, we, as a community of Catholic men and women who have a long history in Central America and know their plight first hand, feel profoundly close to these sojourners and unequivocally reject President Donald Trump’s characterization of the caravan as an “invasion of our country.” The migrant caravan is a humanitarian crisis, not an invasion.  The Trump administration is abandoning the United States’ historic moral vision as a beacon of freedom and hope.

Instead, we say ‘Welcome, brothers and sisters.’ Refuge is a right. Asylum is the law. We recognize that this dense concentration of migrants does not represent a threat but a survival strategy to protect themselves from assault, exploitation, and theft on the dangerous journey to safety.

Saint Óscar Romero taught us, “When the church hears the cry of the oppressed it cannot but denounce the social structures that give rise to and perpetuate the misery from which the cry arises.” Inspired by love, we call on the United States to act with compassion toward migrants and to work to transform our relationships with our southern neighbors to enable livable communities to flourish everywhere.

Maryknoll Sisters
Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers
Maryknoll Lay Missioners
Maryknoll Affiliates 

November 2018

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