Maryknoll on Father Bourgeois: Some agree, some do not

I mentioned the other day that Maryknoll’s Father Roy Bourgeois has been in the news again of late — taking his call for the ordination of women right to the Vatican.

I also wrote that he has a lot of support at Ossining-based Maryknoll, the generally liberal Catholic foreign missions society.

Turns out that Maryknoll has released a statement about that support (and its limits). So here it is:


The Maryknoll Society continues to receive correspondence and calls in support of Father Bourgeois. Maryknoll also receives many letters and calls from Catholics who do not agree with his views or his actions.

From the beginning, Maryknoll determined that this matter required a thoughtful approach. Since this matter is between Father Bourgeois and his Church and not between Father Bourgeois and Maryknoll, the Maryknoll Society decided it was necessary to have Father Bourgeois engage in communication with his Church to discuss the issues that separate them.

Maryknoll has repeatedly attempted to bridge the channels of communications. Father Bourgeois, unfortunately, always has elected not to pursue the opportunities provided to him by Maryknoll.

Currently, as this matter is reviewed, Father Bourgeois remains a member of the Maryknoll Society. Some within the Society agree with his view, while many others do not. Many also are not pleased with the manner in which he has conducted himself, indicating that this matter is between him and his Church and not with Maryknoll.

Whatever the final outcome between Father Bourgeois and the Church, Maryknoll will continue to provide for him spiritually and financially, should he be in need and request such support.

Maryknoll wishes that more Catholics would understand that it is Maryknoll that has tried to open the doors of dialogue for Father Bourgeois over these three years and that it is Maryknoll that will continue to befriend him as part of its extended family no matter his decision or the decision of the Church.


On a side note, Maryknoll’s year-long centennial celebrations will culminate on Sunday (Oct. 30) with a Centennial Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Patrick’s Cathedral at 2 p.m.

The principal celebrant will be Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington.

The Mass can be viewed live at

Maryknoll celebrating its 100th

Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, the Roman Catholic missionary group based in Ossining, has just started celebrating its 100th birthday.

Maryknoll was co-founded by Father James Anthony Walsh of Cambridge, Mass., and Father Thomas Frederick Price of Wilmington, N.C., as the Catholic Foreign Mission Society of America. Pope Pius X gave the group his blessing on June 29, 1911.

Since then, Maryknoll has become quite famous for working with the poor all over the world, particularly in Asia, Latin America, Africa and the U.S.

There will be special events all year, including a Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Oct. 30.

I hope to write something about Maryknoll’s history over the next few weeks.

Maryknoll kicked things off Tuesday with an opening Mass in Ossining. It included a specially commissioned composition by Father Jan Michael Joncas, liturgical theologian and composer of contemporary Catholic music.

Here are two pictures from the Mass, provided by Maryknoll:

Maryknoll nearing centennial

It seems like just yesterday that I wrote about Maryknoll’s 90th birthday:


OSSINING – A family reunion of sorts has been taking place here, bringing together men and women from the poorest, most desperate regions of the world.

Many haven’t seen each other in years, but they’ve shared remarkably similar tales about the fallout from globalization, the continuing spread of AIDS, unabated threats to the environment and the basic plight of the oppressed, illiterate and hungry.

A depressing scene, perhaps, one without hope. But these are Maryknoll missioners, the heart of the Catholic Foreign Mission Society of America, and they have been trying to bring light to the darkest corners of the world for 90 years.


Now here we are, on the cusp of Maryknoll’s 100th anniversary, which will be celebrated through all of 2011.

Here’s the anniversary logo (it’s kind of small, I know):

No nukes

Back in the Cold War days, one of the most high-profile items on the Catholic agenda — on many agendas — was nuclear disarmament.

We haven’t heard as much about it since the wall came down.

646a42253eb221903e312bf2271bf522But with meetings at the U.N. next month to review the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Obama rewriting America’s “nuclear strategy”  and growing concerns about nukes getting into the hands of terrorists, disarmament is back in the headlines.

Want proof? Maryknoll is hosting a forum entitled “For Peace and Human Needs—Disarm Now!” on Sunday  (April 11) at 2:30 p.m. at the Maryknoll HQ in  Ossining.

According to a release: “Panel discussion topics will include: Arms Control and National Security, Nuclear Disarmament, and Seizing this Moment.  Presenters will be members of the United Nations NGO community.”

Coincidentally, I got a release from the Two Futures Project, an evangelical movement pushing for the abolition of nuclear weaspons.

“The use of even one nuclear weapon would cause indiscriminate death and destruction and threaten uncontrollable escalation, both of which are anathema in the just war tradition,” says the Rev. Tyler Wigg-Stevenson,  Director of the Two Futures Project. “The moral imperative is to do everything possible to ensure that no nuclear weapon is ever used, whether in war, terrorism, or by accident—which requires taking concrete, threat-reducing steps toward their multi-lateral, verifiable, and complete elimination.”

Obama yesterday officially said that nuclear terrorism is a greater threat than whatever nukes Russia has left.

“The greatest threat to U.S. and global security is no longer a nuclear exchange between nations, but nuclear terrorism by violent extremists and nuclear proliferation to an increasing number of states,” he said.

Just about anyone should be able to agree on this point, I guess. Not counting Iran.

Vatican to Maryknoll: Pick a priest, please

Back in May, the Ossining-based Maryknoll religious order chose a religious brother, not a priest, Brother Wayne Fitzpatrick, to serve as regional superior for the U.S.

But John Allen reports that the Vatican has rejected the choice, asking Maryknoll to choose a priest instead.

Allen writes: “In general, church-watchers say that policy is intended to defend the theology of apostolic succession, in which decision-making power in the church is believed to flow through the sacrament of holy orders. Although religious brothers take vows and are generally seen as equals within their communities, under the church’s canon law they are considered laity.”

Father Ed Dougherty, the superior general of Maryknoll, tells Allen: “I wasn’t surprised, to tell you the truth. There’s still a hierarchical sense in which having a brother over a priest is a problem. There’s a fear of a slippery slope, of the camel getting its nose under the tent” toward an erosion of priestly authority.

“I had hoped maybe we’d moved beyond that,” Dougherty said.

A new regional superior will soon be chosen.

On Saturday, adult catechists to gather at St. Joe’s Seminary

It’s often said that religious education ends for most people around the time that their braces come off.

This Saturday (June 6), the Cathechetical Office of the Archdiocese of NY will hold an all-day forum on adult faith formation at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers.

The idea is to give support, ideas and training to pastors, educators and anyone in the parishes of New York who try to help adults grow in their faith.

Interestingly, the much of the conference will be presented in English and Spanish, as the archdiocese is increasingly becoming an Hispanic church.

Jerry Galipeau, associate publisher at World Library Publications, will give the English keynote. He presents workshops around the country on the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, liturgical spirituality, ritual music, evangelization, and adult spiritual formation.

Sr. Maria Luz Ortiz, national consultant for Catechesis for Hispanic Catholics for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Religion Publishers, will deliver the Spanish keynote. She has been in the catechetical field for more than 35 years, serving in Venezuela, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Columbia, and parts of the United States. NOTE: HER APPEARANCE HAS SINCE BEEN CANCELED.

The conference will feature representatives of 16 of the lay ecclesial movements active in the archdiocese, including Worldwide Marriage Encounter, Lamp Ministries, Focolare, Cursillo, Pax Christi, the Neocatechumenate Way, and Communion and Liberation. Also, Maryknoll Bro. John Blazo and two affiliates will talk about their experiences as Maryknoll missioners.

For info or to register, visit or call 646-794-2692.

Dolan still going…and going

New York’s fascination with Archbishop Dolan has probably ebbed a bit after his breathless first few weeks.

But Dolan is still very much on the move.

My colleague Theresa Juva was at Maryknoll on Saturday when Dolan ordained a new Maryknoll priest, Father Stephen Taluja (whose story is quite interesting, as he was raised a Sikh in India).

And yesterday, colleague Christine Pizzuti was at Holy Name of Mary Church in Croton to watch Dolan rededicate the church, mark Pentecost and do three Confirmations. He also addressed the parish’s past problems (Holy Name lost its last two pastors to sex abuse allegations and each was later defrocked).

Dolan said that he talked to the current pastor, Father Michael Keane, by phone before he came.

“He went on to tell me some of your recent, painful history,” Dolan told the congregation. “I’m here on Pentecost Sunday to let you know I love you very much.”

Dolan doesn’t waste any time.

I recently learned that Dolan spends his time in the car — and there’s a lot of it when you’re running a 10-county archdiocese — making phone calls. He calls people who sent him notes and letters. He calls people he has been asked to pray for. He calls people to offer a kind word or to thank them for a job well done.

He calls. He makes contact. He relates.

He is Archbishop Connection.

Photos: Mark Vergari,

On the eve of pope’s trip, an interreligious forum at Graymoor

Next Thursday evening (April 30), on the eve of Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the Holy Land, the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement in Garrison will host a forum on the always interesting and complicated subject of interreligious relations.

It’s at 7:30 p.m. Open to all.

Every step the pope takes and every word he says will be immediately scrutinized by Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox Christians, Jews, Muslims and others. For reasons obvious and not-to-obvious.

Talk about interreligious relations.

The friars are committed to promoting ecumenism and interrreligious understanding, so this is a good opportunity to explore where things stand in the Lower Hudson Valley.

Participants will include:

Father James Gardiner of the friars;

Father Anthony Falsarella of St. Basil Academy in Garrison, a Greek Orthodox residence for children in need;

Dr. Mahjabeen Hassan of the Westchester-based American Muslim Women’s Association;

The Rev. Adolphus Lacey, pastor of Mount Olivet Baptist Church in Peekskill and president of the Peekskill Area Pastors Association;

And Rabbi Lee Paskind of First Hebrew Congregation in Peekskill.

The moderator will be me.

For information, call 845-424-2111. Graymoor is located on Route 9, just over the Westchester/Putnam border.

The program will be at the Graymoor Spiritual Life Center. Follow the signs to the top of the hill. (NOTE: They always have real good cookies.)

By the way, I talked about my life as a religion reporter on Sunday at Maryknoll, and I thought things went quite well.

We had a nice audience for a hot, sunny Sunday afternoon in APRIL.

Everyone at Maryknoll was very nice and accomodating and I got to answer a lot of thoughtful questions. My thanks to everyone who asked them.

The weekend line-up

Today: Archbishop Dolan visited Ground Zero.

As he walked out, he said he felt an “overwhelming sadness at the horror, suffering and pain that the site still carries.”

Tomorrow: Joel Osteen at Yankee Stadium. Will he fill more seats than the Yankees?

Sunday: I’m speaking at Maryknoll at 2:30 p.m. about covering the religion beat.

Monday: The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life releases a major study on people who switch faiths.