206 MMM E-Newsletter September/October 2021

206 MMM E-Newsletter September/October 2021

MMM Communications, Rosemount, Booterstown, Dublin. Ireland. Tel :353-1-2887180 Fax:353-1-2834626
To contact MMM Email: mmm@mmmworldwide.org

Number 206 - September/October 2021

Dear Friends,

Much recent news has concerned the plight of thousands of people caught up yet again in the aftermath of natural disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes and floods. The use of the word ‘natural’ is questionable in many of these situations. The latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), released on 9 August, has made us aware of our own culpability in these events.

The report showed that ‘human actions still have the potential to determine the future course of climate. The evidence is clear that carbon dioxide (CO2) is the main driver of climate change, even as other greenhouse gases and air pollutants also affect the climate.’ It noted that ‘strong and sustained reductions in emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases would limit climate change’ (www.ipcc.ch/2021/08/09/ar6-wg1-20210809-pr/).

Climate change regulations and their enforcement at national levels are often slow to deal with the reality, but each of us can take action and encourage others to do the same. ‘We can’t agonize — we must organize’ (US Senator Ed Markey, chair of the Subcommittee on Clean Air, Climate and Nuclear Safety).

International Day of Charity on 5 September was established to sensitize and mobilize people, NGOs and stakeholders around the world to help others through volunteer and philanthropic activities. It recognizes the role of charity in alleviating humanitarian crises and human suffering within and among nations, and of the efforts of charitable organizations and individuals.

The date is the anniversary of the death of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 ‘for work undertaken in the struggle to overcome poverty and distress, which also constitute a threat to peace.’

On 8 September we mark International Literacy Day (UNESCO). Its website says that the COVID-19 crisis has disrupted the learning of children, young people and adults at an unprecedented scale and magnified the pre-existing inequalities in access to meaningful literacy learning opportunities. Numerous literacy programmes have been forced to halt their usual modes of operation.

MMMs have facilitated access to online education for young people. Nevertheless, the website noted, ‘the rapid shift to distance learning highlighted the persistent digital divide in terms of connectivity, infrastructure, the ability to engage with technology, and disparities in other services such as access to electricity.’

On International Day of Peace on September 21 all nations and peoples are invited to honour a cessation of hostilities and to raise awareness on issues related to peace.

According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, in 2019 there were 33 situations around the world that met their definition of armed conflict. In 21 of these conflicts the number of non-state armed groups exceeded the number of state groups (www.iiss.org/blogs/analysis/2020/05/acs-2020-introduction). Our Sisters, MMM Associates and co-workers are dealing with the consequences of these conflicts in several countries.

On 1 October we mark the feast of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, who has a special connection to MMM. In 1949 Mother Mary met Thérèse’s sister Pauline (Mère Agnes) at the Lisieux Carmel.  Mère Agnes assured Mother Mary that Thérèse would have a special care for 'the intentions of our benefactors and friends and for the great needs of our Congregation.'

This is also International Day of Older Persons, with the theme of ‘Digital Equity for All Ages’. It is especially relevant when we consider the disproportionate and severe impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on older persons globally - on their health, rights and well-being. Its website says that the fastest increase in the number of persons aged 65 years and over in the next three decades is projected to be in the least developed countries, with a possible rise from 37 million in 2019 to 120 million in 2050.

World Mental Health Day takes place on 10 October. The World Health Organization's website points out the increasing acknowledgement of the importance of mental health in achieving global development goals. Mental health is included in the Sustainable Development Goals.

For example, in older adults early recognition and treatment of mental, neurological and substance use disorders is essential. While there is no medication currently available to cure dementia, much can be done to support and improve the lives of people affected, their caregivers and families. 'Dementia is a syndrome, usually of a chronic or progressive nature, in which there is deterioration in memory, thinking, behaviour and the ability to perform everyday activities. It mainly affects older people, although it is not a normal part of ageing.

'Helpful interventions include optimizing physical and mental health, functional ability and well-being; identifying and treating accompanying physical illness; detecting and managing challenging behaviour; and providing information and long-term support to carers.'

International Day for the Eradication of Poverty is held on 17 October. COVID-19 has resulted in over 3.7 million deaths and is reversing decades of progress in the fight against poverty.  According to the World Bank report on ‘Projected poverty impacts of COVID-19’, between 71 to 100 million people are being pushed into poverty as a result of the crisis, the majority of whom are in South Asian and sub-Saharan countries. In 2021, this number is expected to rise to between 143 and 163 million.

The impact has been hardest on people who lacked equal access to public goods and services, quality healthcare systems and strong social protection. Measures to limit the spread of the pandemic often pushed them further into poverty. In addition the informal economy that enabled many people in poverty to survive was virtually shut down in many countries.

We need to ‘transform our relationship with nature, dismantle structures that disadvantage people in poverty, and build on the moral and legal framework of human rights that places human dignity at the heart of policy and action.’

In this newsletter, a young MMM reflects on the meaning of her vow of celibacy. Two Sisters mark important milestones of commitment. We also announce milestones in our MMM Communications Department.

Thank you once again for your interest and support. They enable us and the people with whom we live and work to deal with the issues mentioned above. We remember you in prayer each day.

Yours sincerely,

Sr. Carol Breslin, MMM

‘The world is round so that friendship may encircle it’ (Pierre Teilhard de Chardin).

Choosing to Love in Freedom

Sister Margaret Nakafu, from Uganda, contributed an article to our last MMM e-newsletter. Republished from the 26 April 2021 edition of ‘The Life’, a monthly feature of Global Sisters’ Report (GSR), she spoke about how her community is promoting the beauty of creation and the care of our common home.

Margaret has been on mission in Honduras since May 2016. She has been involved in parish pastoral work, advocating for youth, vulnerable families and the elderly. She made her perpetual profession in MMM in 2018. As part of 'The Life' panel she provided another article for the 28 June 2021 edition on the topic: ‘Love with a hundred hearts: How do sisters live the vow of chastity?’

A shift in emphasis
‘The Life’ editor said that ‘in their reflections, the panelists described how the modern interpretation of chastity contrasts with the old "renunciation" emphasis, explained how it reflects their particular congregational charism, and considered the gifts and opportunities it brings as they answered the question: How does the vow of chastity/celibacy uniquely witness to society in your particular culture and with your particular age group?’ The following is Sister Margaret’s response.

‘In today's world, xenophobia, discrimination, apathy, intolerance and racism of all kinds affect how people live and interact with one another. This creates a culture of dualism and indifference. The vow of celibacy offers opportunities for countercultural experiences of respectful and dignifying encounters. As a vow of unconditional love, it generates the vital energy that helps us to reach out to others in faith and goodwill.

'The vow of celibacy, a real gift from God, touches me holistically. As I live this vow, I have experienced a universal love for all people, living and interacting freely with people of all ages, cultural backgrounds and social status. 

‘Experience has taught me that human beings grow and bloom within an environment of mutuality and intimate relationships. Close relationships, both a gift and a challenge, are essential in the life of religious men and women in order to become a more loving and integrated person. In today's culture, it takes tremendous personal conviction to live a celibate life in accordance with the Gospel values of truth, genuineness, authenticity, fidelity and love.

The importance of relationships
‘I have heard many times that today's young people fear and hesitate to make life commitments. Pope Francis talks of a culture of discarding. With advances in technology and social media, making and maintaining meaningful relationships are becoming a challenge.

‘By living the vow of celibacy, we can witness how to reach out to each other — creating atmospheres of acceptance, affection and warmth, with expressions of love and tenderness — and show that we appreciate mutually supportive relationships.

‘As I reflected on this, I asked my friends for their point of view. This was a little risky, since I did not know what feedback to expect. I thought that my living this vow did have a significant impact on society, and my friends surprised me with profound responses, expressing appreciation for how our encounters have been enriched by the ways my life expresses the gifts of celibacy.

‘The vow of celibacy is a witness that young adults have a great capacity to love people of different races and sexes; that both men and women have the freedom to have authentic, mutual relationships and share the joys and sorrows of life. It is a witness that a person can be fully and authentically productive beyond cultural barriers and without the expression of genital intimacy.

Affirming of women
‘Celibacy gives a deeper meaning to "productivity", as a choice to make and maintain circles of friends who make meaningful connections in realizing both individual and group goals. These friends are a supportive resource throughout the different stages of life. They give us shoulders to lean on, affirm our growth, encourage our efforts, open our eyes to our hidden giftedness, and challenge us to take the next step when we prefer to run away. 

'Celibacy affirms that women have a right to live an independent life and the freedom to make choices that are life-giving to them and to society, even when the popular culture may be promoting the contrary. It is a witness to the many other ways women can enhance life by engaging our sexual energy into forming and maintaining healthy relationships, showing love and concern to those on the margins of life and making them feel worthwhile, empowering others to rise up and claim their rights, learning to take personal responsibility, and building one's self-esteem.

‘Therefore, as a young consecrated religious, I am convinced that taking this vow has helped me to realize the inner potential that I have to relate freely with others, creating bonds of mutuality, interconnectedness and respect — with ​God's grace giving countercultural witness.’

(See original article >>> here.)

MMM is in the process of handing over our programmes in Honduras and Margaret will be leaving before the end of September. She is now assigned to Brazil, soon to be the seventh country in which she has served.   

Silver Jubilee in Angola

Our first MMM from Angola, Sister Laurinda Bundo, was born in Huambo in 1965. She completed nurse training before joining MMM in Nigeria. After profession she did vocation ministry in Angola and further training in nursing, midwifery and community health in Uganda and Kenya. Laurinda returned to Angola in 2004 and set up community-based health care in Huambo. She did further training in nursing in Angola and was also involved in vocation and youth ministry. 

Sister Laurinda has used her talents in building a health project in Luanda and in MMM leadership. Since returning to Huambo in 2011 she has also been nurse in charge of the clinic and a mentor for our Associates in Angola.vvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvv

Laurinda celebrated her silver jubilee of profession in Huambo on 30 May. Many religious and friends joined her family for the Mass in the parish of Nossa Senhora do Perpétuo Socorro, S. Luís. The main celebrant was her mother’s cousin, Father Bento Katchingango, CSsR. He was joined by six other priests at the joyful event.

We congratulate Sister Laurinda on twenty-five years of dedicated service.

Fifty Years of Commitment

For Sister Thérèse McDonough, the seeds of her life call were planted early. She worked in a variety of jobs before joining MMM in Winchester, MA, USA. She told us how her life continued to be varied and challenging during fifty years of commitment and service.

‘I was the youngest of six, with two brothers and three sisters.  My parents immigrated to the United States from Galway, Ireland and we lived in a multi-cultural neighborhood in Boston.  

‘Working was simply a way of life, contributing to the family expenses. During summers, I worked at a variety of odd jobs from the age of fourteen. During high school I worked as a short order cook at a busy soda fountain at South Station Boston. My first job after high school was a librarian’s assistant. I then took a position at Boston College as a secretary at the School of Social Work.  

‘My mother’s sister, a Sister of St. Louis in Nigeria, was influential in my leanings towards being a medical missionary from the early age of thirteen. I talked it over with our parish priest.  He took a book off of the bookcase and started looking through the Catholic directory for medical missionary religious groups.  He found the MMM!  He said, “Thérèse, this looks like what you might be looking for. They are medical missionaries and dedicated to Mary. Take this book home with you. Put it away someplace and if this is meant for you, you will be guided to find it in later years.  For the meantime, go on and live your life as a young girl.”

Responding in faith
‘I followed his instructions and when I was twenty, found the book again. I made contact with the Medical Missionaries of Mary and joined on March 1, 1969.

‘After first profession, I did some secretarial work and odd jobs around the Winchester house before I started nursing training at Boston City Hospital. At that time it was transitioning to a four-year Bachelor of Science in nursing program.  I graduated in early 1977. In October 1977, I was sent to work in England for a few months to obtain my British registration in nursing. Then I went toIreland for a year to do midwifery training.  Afterwards I was assigned to Brazil and was thrilled to be finally sent to serve overseas.  Another grand adventure in faith was waiting for me in Brazil and I was ready! I was grateful that Sister Ann White was assigned to Brazil at the same time and we journeyed together.

‘I was in Brazil for twenty years. During this time I also obtained a Master of
Pastoral Counseling in the USA, which was very helpful. Much of our ministry was in pastoral care as well as in health care. 

Ready for change 
‘At the end of 1999 I returned to the USA and lived in Somerville, MA. I did some pastoral work with Brazilian immigrants and trained in clinical pastoral education. During this time, I was guided to a position at the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers in upstate New York, where I worked in their Office of Cross Cultural Services for seven years. I then joined a small group of MMMs in starting a new residence in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. 

‘I was assigned to Angola in 2011, and served there for two years. Among other blessings, I was introduced to prison ministry.  

'On my return to the USA, I was asked to move to the new home for our returned missionaries in Malden, MA.  After a short period I was elected into local leadership and worked as a volunteer at a jail in Boston.

‘I am presently in MMM leadership. Because of the pandemic, I was unable to continue my visits to the jail but do plan on returning some day.  In the meantime, I keep myself busy as a member of the Area team, local leader of the MMM Boston Community, and I volunteer a few hours a week at the Visiting Nurse Association across the street where seven of our Sisters are living.  

Other interests
‘While in Brazil, I also developed my love of music and worked with a small group of youth who were interested in starting a band. I loved playing my guitar, singing, and composing with them. I enjoy a good read, walking on nature trails, and getting together with family and good friends.  In the winter, I used to do some knitting!

‘I have had many challenges through this incredible journey as an MMM.  I suppose the greatest was inserting into the periphery of São Paulo, Brazil, learning another language, and about another culture and people.  I was literally turned inside out and upside down, viewing and understanding the world from a completely different perspective. Another challenge was being missioned to Angola at the age of sixty-two and moving through the whole process again. The greatest challenges were also my greatest blessings.  

‘I look over my life with great gratitude for the all people with whom throughout my life I lived, loved, laughed, cried, struggled, celebrated and rejoiced.  They are all woven into the fabric of who I am today.’

We've Moved!

A New Home
After much consideration, we decided to relocate our MMM Communications Department from Dublin to our Motherhouse in Beechgrove, Drogheda. The move was made over the past few months and is now complete. You will now see our new address on our publications. Please note: our phone number has not changed.
Our New Look
Visitors to our MMM website will soon notice a new look. We are excited about its updated and interactive style. In addition to background information and photographs there are short videos with interviews with our Sisters. You can click on a map that brings you to the places where we work around the world. Our prayer section has been expanded to include a variety of intentions. So please come and visit us at www.mmmworldwide.org!

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