Monthly Archives: December 2018

National Catholic Reporter covers Sending

The National Catholic Reporter’s Peter Feuerherd reported on the Dec. 8, 2018 Sending Ceremony in the Annunciation Chapel of the Maryknoll Sisters.

Please read more here.

NCR Capture

Wake up, little baby God, and hear our cry!

This year’s Christmas card from Maryknoll Lay Missioners connects the Nativity story with the plight of refugees worldwide.

Artwork courtesy of the Jesuit Refugee Services of East Africa Mikono Shop

Artwork courtesy of the Jesuit Refugee Services of East Africa Mikono Shop

This African depiction of the Holy Family fleeing to Egypt reminds us that Jesus came into this world as a displaced person in Bethlehem, and that only days later, in order to escape from a murderous tyrant, his family had to flee to Egypt and became refugees, and that Jesus had nowhere to lay his head in Galilee.

Celebrating our Savior’s birth, mindful of the plight of 68.5 million forcibly displaced people today, let us pray:

As we journey with the Holy Family to Bethlehem, we pray for all who make forced journeys. Give them strength to carry on and courage to walk the road ahead.

Wake up, little baby God,
And hear our cry.

As we hear the innkeeper say there is no room, we pray for refugees for whom there is no country. Gather them to yourself and keep them free from harm.

Wake up, little baby God,
And hear our cry.

As we contemplate that first Christmas night, we pray for those with nowhere to lay their head. Comfort them in their need and uphold them in their plight.

Wake up, little baby God,
And hear our cry.

As we listen to the cry of the infant king, we pray for children everywhere born into poverty. Wrap them in your love and uphold them in your tender mercy.

Wake up, little baby God,
And hear our cry.

As we remember the fear of the shepherds in the presence of the angels, we pray for all who are afraid to look ahead. Reassure them with your presence and embolden them to face the future.

Wake up, little baby God,
And hear our cry.

As we recall the flight of the Holy Family into Egypt, we pray for all who flee from danger. Enfold them in your care and challenge us to offer our protection.

Wake up, little baby God,
nd hear our cry.

—Annabel Shilson-Thomas (CAFOD)


Merry Christmas!
Feliz Natal, Krismasi Njema, Feliz Navidad, រីករាយបុណ្យណូអែល

Watch this fun Christmas mashup video from Maryknoll lay missioners and their communities:

Pig skins help health project expand

Seeds planted by Maryknoll lay missioners 40 years ago continue to bear fruit.


Students in a health promoter program started 40 years ago by Maryknoll lay missioners, today continue to learn how to provide health care in the remote Petén jungle of Guatemala. Here they are practicing suturing techniques on pig skins with instruments acquired with funds raised by returned Maryknoll lay missioners.


By Liz Desimone (MKLM Class of 1977-Guatemala)

In 1977 Fay Hauer and I traveled to Guatemala to answer a call from the late Maryknoll Father Mo Healy to begin a health promoter training program in the Petén jungle. Other programs existed in the country, set up by Maryknoll sisters and other religious groups, but nothing existed in the Petén. Although we were both nurses, neither of us knew a thing about health promoters.

Working with a mobile clinic, we learned first-hand what the health needs in the area were. We also started to teach health classes to the villagers. Then in late 1979, we began to teach students to become promotors of health in their villages. This course took two years, and students attended when they could find spare time from their work in the corn fields. The first class graduated in 1982. They could then treat common infections, parasites, malaria, tuberculosis and malnutrition in their aldea (village).

After Fay and I left, other workers continued the program, including Maryknoll lay missioners Mary Beth Bathum and Sheila Matthews (class of 1980). Sheila began working with Carmen Ché Chóc, a Kek’chi girl, who at age 15 had been part of our first class of promoters.

Carmen Ché Chóc (in blue blouse) was only 15 when she was part of the first class of health promoters. Today she leads this vital program and she has added midwifery, natural medicine and dental care courses to the training

A recent class of health promoters. Today this vital training program includes midwifery, natural medicine and dental care courses.

Together they expanded the program to offer classes in Kek’chi, the language of more than half of the villagers. Eventually, the program was turned over into Carmen’s capable hands.

For years people came from aldeas far into the interior of the Petén where little or no medical services existed. With severe lacerations, such as cuts from a machete, villagers needed to take an arduous and expensive journey to a bigger town like San Luis, Poptún or Chacté to find a doctor. Carmen therefore decided to teach the promoters suturing techniques. Unfortunately, the cost of suturing kits was prohibitive, so Carmen reached out to us for help with fundraising.  

With the money we raised, as well as contributions from Lin Moorman, a fellow nurse, and Bob Cashin (MKLM class of 1977–Tanzania), soon the program had enough money for five instruments and a sterilizing pan for each of the students. The students practiced suturing on pig carcasses that share some properties of human flesh.

Liz DeSimone with Carmen

Liz DeSimone with Carmen Ché Chóc

We are grateful for Carmen’s inspired leadership, vision and dedication. As of this date, 178 promotors have graduated and provide health care where little or no care previously existed. Over time, Carmen added midwifery, natural medicine and dental care courses. She helped train 22 promotors of dentistry, 16 promotors practicing herbal medicine and acupuncture, and 100 midwives.  She also teaches dietary care for diabetics to help prevent complications like amputations and loss of organ function.

She recently told me that the newest promoters have already begun using their suture sets.

Liz Desimone served for three years as a Maryknoll lay missioner in Guatemala. She is a registered nurse and nurse practitioner and the author of Guatemala in My Blood: How Nursing In Remote Jungle Villages Revolutionized My Life (Create Space, 2009).

Feb. 3 is Scout Sunday

Scouting prepared James Havey for a life of service—and adventure

James Havey (left) and his anti-human-trafficking research team at a spiritual retreat in Kep, Cambodia.

Halfway around the world, James Havey puts what he has learned in scouting to good use. Havey, who became an Eagle Scout in October 2004, has been working as a Maryknoll lay missioner in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, since 2013. He is currently helping Cambodian children and adult survivors of human trafficking lend their voices to advise lawmakers and social service providers on programming and policy.

Havey is the project advisor for an unprecedented 10-year research study of Cambodian survivors of human trafficking, exploitation, and/or abuse called the Butterfly Longitudinal Re/integration Research Project. It is a project of the Chab Dai (“Joining Hands” in the Khmer language) Coalition, a Cambodian anti-human-trafficking organization charged with serving vulnerable populations, victims, survivors and service providers alike.

“We are following the lives of 128 children and adult survivors as they have gone through an aftercare program and subsequently re/integrated back into the community,” he explains. All of this information is then fed back to grassroots organizations, law enforcement and policymakers so that their work can be informed by the needs of the survivors of this modern scourge.

Havey says that his scouting years and leadership experiences with Troop 777 at St. Columbkille Parish in Wilmington, Ohio, “gave me a sense of adventure and finding beauty in all of God’s creation.”

But the main thing that he learned in the Scouts that has helped him in his current overseas human-rights assignment has been adaptability. “Though not specifically a part of our Scout Law,” Havey explains, “all the experiences of leadership, backpacking, and survival skills that are foundational in Scouts have adaptability at their core. Adaptability requires patience, simplicity in lifestyle, and planning ahead—or, as the Scouts put it: ‘Be prepared.’”

It’s that adaptability that helps him in Phnom Penh “when the rolling blackout cuts off the fan on a 110-degree night, or when the monsoon has flooded all the surrounding streets so wading is required to get to work.” As a Scout, Havey remembers, “I’ve weathered the greatest of thunderstorms while in a tent, so a monsoon while living with a family in their traditional Cambodian house on stilts among the rice paddies is a much drier place.”

In Scouts he also learned to eat whatever his older brother concocted from the troop trailer on their monthly campouts, and he recalls a former Green Beret Scout leader teaching him how to eat raw bugs. “That makes the pan-fried crickets around Cambodia a welcomed snack,” he laughs.

James Havey, backpacking through the Annapurna region of Nepal.

James Havey, backpacking through the Annapurna region of Nepal.

And even his adventure backpacking through the New Mexico scouting ranch Philmont prepared him for his current life in Asia. “It made it an easy ‘yes’ to an offer of spending a month backpacking throughout Nepal to work with Tibetan refugee beekeepers to create a market link to Follow the Honey, a human-rights honey shop in Boston.”

Living in a country where 97 percent of the population is Buddhist, Havey says, “Adaptability and its sister, humility, have allowed me to see the face of God in the Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu and atheist. We live in a beautiful world of diversity with others who have lifestyles and beliefs that are different from our own, and my background in scouting has given me tools and qualities to move through this world with compassionate joy for other people’s spirituality.”

Havey grew up in a Catholic scouting family—his mother, Kathleen Havey, was a den mother in Cub Scouts, and his father, Dr. James ‘Pat’ Havey, an Eagle Scout and a troop leader in the Boy Scouts. In fact, his father helped found Troop 777 of the Tecumseh Council through St. Columbkille Parish in Wilmington. His two brothers, Raymond and Arthur, are also both Eagle Scouts.

Eagle Scout James Havey in 2004

Eagle Scout James Havey in 2004

During his scouting career, Havey received the Parvuli Dei Award, was inducted into the Order of the Arrow and acquired 34 merit badges—his favorite being water skiing. “Learning to slalom-ski in one week at Tecumseh Council’s Camp Birch was a challenge,” James recalls with a smile.

Havey answered the call to be a Maryknoll lay missioner because “it is in the gratitude of serving others that I am able to practice the charge of an Eagle Scout to ‘dedicate their hearts and hands to the common good.’”

He chose Maryknoll in particular because “this global community provides a network of formidable spiritual masters who provide the space and mentorship to challenge and grow my spirituality, morality and practice throughout my adult life. Becoming an Eagle was a foundational achievement in my coming-of-age story, but it was a beginning, not an end.” Maryknoll lay missioners first commit for three and a half years of overseas service. Havey is now in his sixth year with Maryknoll Lay Missioners.

To Havey, his work with survivors of human trafficking is about God’s “preferential option for the poor” and about our faith’s call to go out to the “peripheries,” the margins of the world.

“Jesus listened to the cries of the poor and advocated their pleas to the Pharisees and the Romans,” he says. “It has been a profound commitment, but I am happy to be a Maryknoll lay missioner in service to the people of Cambodia and Asia. I would certainly encourage other Scouts who are dedicated to engaging with all of God’s creation to pursue the opportunities Maryknoll Lay Missioners provides—because, as they say, ‘Once an Eagle, always an Eagle.’”

Photos courtesy of James Havey

Covenant Signing Mass 12-6-2018

The 12 new lay missioners of Maryknoll Lay Missioners’ Class of 2018 recite and sign the Covenant, in which they commit themselves to mission “in the firm hope that our faith and actions will transform our lives, our organization, and our world through the power of God’s love.” (2:36 min)

‘Maryknoll, miracles and medicine’

The Catholic Post, the diocesan newspaper of the Diocese of Peoria, Illinois, features Susan Nagele’s 33-year career as Maryknoll lay missioner physician in East Africa and her current educational and advancement work from Urbana, Illinois.

Read more here.

Susan in Catholic Post

3 minutes with the MKLM Class of 2018

A short video featuring some of our 12 new missioners talking about why they joined Maryknoll Lay Missioners and what there hopes are for their overseas missions to Bolivia, El Salvador, Haiti, Kenya and Tanzania. (3 min)

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