On December 9, 2017, Maryknoll Lay Missioners (MKLM), is blessed to send forth its 50th Lay Missioner class. The Maryknoll Lay Missioner orientation program began in 1975 and is held yearly at MKLM’s center located at the Maryknoll campus in New York. This ceremony marks the culmination of a 10-week formation that began in October.
Seven faith-filled missioners depart for their respective mission sites in January 2018, bringing with them a gospel spirit of hope and joy. At that point, they will continue the next stage of their formation, including in-country language training and acculturation, before entering into mission service with our sisters and brothers in the countries to which they journey. “Our Orientation Program gives our new missioners basic tools for adapting to a new culture and country,” said Debbie Northern, MKLM Training and Educational Programs Manager. “We are sure that the Class of 2017 will enter this new journey in their lives with enthusiasm and compassion for those whom they will serve in mission.”
The class consists of a diverse group of missioners from across the country.
Gabrielle Cuda is from Los Angeles, CA, and is assigned to Tanzania, Africa. Gabrielle has an AA degree in Communication Studies from Long Beach City College in Long Beach, CA. She previously spent two weeks working as a volunteer in Uganda as part of the Reignite Uganda, which sparked her love for East Africa and its people. In Tanzania, she will be working with the LULU Project, which serves at-risk teenage mothers, teaching them life skills and ways to earn income.
Margarita Duran is from Rio Rancho, NM, and is assigned to Brazil. Margarita, grew up in Tecate, Mexico, has a BA degree in Criminology and Psychology from the University of New Mexico. She has volunteered since she was a teenager in her parish with religious education and vacation bible school. Margarita feels her educational background will greatly benefit the people she will serve in Brazil.
Kathleen Flatoff is from Tomah, WI, and is assigned to Kenya. Kathy has a BS in Nursing from Viterbo University in La Crosse, WI, and a Masters in Nursing from the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire. She retired in 2012 after 28 years as a registered nurse in the Department of Veterans Affairs. She also served 4 years with the US Navy in Guam. She has served on short-term mission trips over the last decade and looks forward to continuing her journey with the people of Kenya.
Kylene Fremling is from Brookston, MN, and is assigned to Cambodia. Kylene has a BS in Exercise Physiology from the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, MN. She has served with Americorps in Sitka, Alaska, and has worked at a women’s homeless drop-in center in Spokane, WA. Kylene, who jokes that she has always wanted to become “a professional volunteer,” has also volunteered with a hospital neonatal intensive care unit, a men’s transitional living center, as well as her parish’s youth ministry retreats.
Michael Garr is from Lansing, MI, and is assigned to Kenya. Mike attended Central Michigan University in Mt Pleasant, MI. He also holds a Culinary Apprentice Certificate from Greenbrier Culinary Program. He has previously led retreats for Catholic singles and volunteers at a homeless shelter. He has previously served on mission trips to Guatemala, Colombia, and Belize. Once in Kenya, he plans to get involved with Project HOPE (Helping Orphans Pursue Education). He also hopes to work with street children in Kenya and possibly participate in prison ministry.
Gabe Hurrish is from Stevens Point, WI, and is assigned to South Sudan. Gabe has a Master’s in Public Health from the University of Boston, and a BS in Health, Education and School Health Administration from the University of Dayton. He also obtained his certification as a nursing assistant from Mid-State Technical College (WI). Gabe has lived overseas for more than 25 years while working for different relief, development, and mission organizations in 10 countries, many in Africa. While in South Sudan in 2016, he volunteered as a professor at the only functioning teacher training college in the nation. He is returning to South Sudan to continue his work at that same college.
Angelica Ruppe is from Medford, OR, and is assigned to Tanzania. Angelica, who grew up in Mexico, has a BS in accounting from the University of Guanajuato, Mexico and a Masters in General Studies from Southern Oregon University. She spent a month serving as a missioner in Cameroon, Africa. As a member of the Rotary Club of Ashland, Oregon, she often returns to Mexico for projects to bring housing, water, stoves and playgrounds to rural communities. She looks forward to her work in Tanzania, serving wherever she is most needed.
“As Maryknoll Lay Missioners sends forth its 50th Class, we express our gratitude to our new missioners and pray that they will be inspiring witnesses of Gospel values in service to God’s people,” said Joanne Blaney, MKLM Director of Mission Services. “May they be open to the Spirit and strive to bring about more peace, justice and love in our world!”
Maryknoll Lay Missioners (MKLM) is a Catholic organization inspired by the mission of Jesus to live and work with poor communities in Africa, Asia and the Americas, responding to basic needs and helping to create a more just and compassionate world. Our Lay Missioners work to assist those living in extreme poverty, victims of human trafficking, people in prison and those affected by war and urban violence. They live and work with those they serve. They also offer their compassion and skills through more than 100 ministries which encompass healthcare, education, compassionate care of children and orphans, microenterprise, faith formation and restorative justice. To date, approximately 800 lay missioners have been involved in mission work around the world.