Telling the stories of the poor

Happy 100th birthday to “Maryknoll magazine.”:http://society.maryknoll.org/index.php?module=MKArticles&office=magazine

I know a lot of Catholics in the Lower Hudson Valley (and across the country) read the magazine, which tells the stories of Maryknoll missioners as they work around the world with the poor, the hungry, the oppressed and the dispossessed.

The magazine actually predates Maryknoll by four years.

A century ago, missionaries around the globe sent letters about their work to Father James Anthony Walsh in Boston. He included their reports in a publication called The Field Afar, first published on Jan. 1, 1907.

Several years later, Walsh founded the Catholic Foreign Mission Society of America, now known around the world as Maryknoll. The magazine, which has won numerous honors, now reaches more than 500,000 readers.

“Many of our missioners say their vocation was inspired by the magazine,” said Father Joseph Veneroso (that’s him), publisher of the magazine, who has extensive journalism training. “Many more readers have become our partners in mission by their prayers, their financial support and by reaching out to the needy in their neighborhoods.”

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Maryknoll is based here in Ossining. The operation includes not only fathers, brothers and sisters, but growing numbers of lay missioners. I’ve met entire families that have chosen to give several years of their lives to overseas work with the poor.

The Maryknoll headquarters is something to see if you haven’t been there. Almost a year ago, they opened a “visitors center”:http://video.maryknoll.org/virtualtour/tourfiles/qtvr/index.html that includes a theater and images and artifacts from around the world.

The magazine will sponsor a lecture by former New York Times war correspondent Chris Hedges on Feb. 20 at 7 p.m. Check the website for “directions.”:http://society.maryknoll.org/index.php?module=MKArticles&func=static&mk_page=about/travel.html

One final note: Maryknoll has produced a documentary on human trafficking, “Lives for Sale,”:http://www.livesforsale.com/ that will premiere on PBS next month. I’ll be writing more about it soon.

More on Mormon politics

Happy New Year.

I blogged a few days back about the growing interest in how Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith will affect his bid for the GOP presidential nomination.

Romney, who leaves office tomorrow (that’s him, below), is “expected”:http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2007/01/02/romney_on_verge_of_launching_presidential_bid/ to form a presidential exploratory committee any time now.

The big question on the minds of analysts is how Romney’s Mormon faith will jive — politicially and theologically — with evangelical Christians. As I wrote the other day, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints takes mostly conservative positions on social issues, which should appeal to evangelicals. But there is a long history of evangelical distrust of Mormons’ religious beliefs.

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On Sunday, The Boston Globe ran a long, pretty nuanced “feature”:http://www.boston.com/news/globe/ideas/articles/2006/12/31/imperfect_fit/ about how Mormons historically view the relationship of church and state. “There is an acute awareness of their own history as a persecuted people,” one expert notes.

The story also explains how the LDS church instructs its members on social issues (or doesn’t). It’s an enlightening read that shows the uniqueness of Mormon thinking on many issues.