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January-February 2011
Vol. 36, No. 1

A century of commitment

During the coming two years, the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers and the Maryknoll Sisters will celebrate their centennials, in 2011 and 2012 respectively – one hundred years of commitment to mission and to each of the key elements of mission: presence and witness; human promotion and liberation; liturgical life, prayer and contemplation; interreligious dialogue; proclamation and catechesis.

One important expression of the Maryknoll commitment to integral evangelization emerged in specific ways during the early 1970s and has been a permanent, visible dimension of Maryknoll ministry since: work for social justice and peace, for “human promotion and liberation” – ultimately for the integrity of creation. In a substantial and effective manner, this key facet of evangelization has been woven into the fabric of Maryknoll mission activity in local communities around the world, as well as in centers of political and economic power.

Shortly after the 1971 Synod document Justice in the World called “action for justice and participation in the transformation of the world” a “constitutive dimension of the preaching the Gospel, or, in other words, of the Church’s mission for the redemption of the human race and its liberation from every oppressive situation,” Maryknoll established the Maryknoll Sisters’ Office for Social Concerns and the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers’ Justice and Peace Office. Eventually joined to become the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, this Maryknoll ministry (ultimately including the Maryknoll Lay Missioners) brought the experience, perspectives and voices of the communities where Maryknollers served into the process of shaping opinion and public policy of the U.S. and other countries, as well as of multilateral entities, including the UN, the World Bank and the IMF.

At about the same time, Maryknoll joined others to develop and refine shareholder mechanisms for promoting corporate social and environmental responsibility through the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility.

And Maryknoll social communications – magazines, videos, radio programs, educational resources and Orbis Books, always important vehicles for Maryknoll missionary work – became known worldwide for a deep commitment to human promotion and liberation.

More recently, new insights have greatly expanded this Maryknoll engagement with the work for social justice, human liberation and peace to include a commitment to ecological integrity. Shaped by the vision of Maryknoll Sisters and others conscious of humans as part of and dependent on the earth community, it is affected by Maryknoll experience with indigenous communities around the world and by deep theological reflection on recent scientific discoveries about the essence of the natural world.

In the beginning of their centennial year, as they reflect on a “new springtime for mission,” the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers articulate again this commitment:

We join the struggles for justice
of the poor, indigenous peoples, women and children against economic, social and cultural oppression.
Through a commitment to inculturation
and an option for the poor
we search for new ways to be
the Church in service of God’s Reign.
Everywhere we are touched
by the triumph of the human spirit
 and enriched by encountering people’s
faith experience.
We join with them announcing the healing,
reconciling and liberating Jesus.
With reverence for God’s creation,
we also join efforts to protect
the integrity and sustainability
of the Earth.

In each issue of Maryknoll NewsNotes this year, we will explore a particular dimension of Maryknoll’s long-term commitment to social justice, peace and the integrity of creation.

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