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The Maryknoll Centennial -- Keeping The Flame of Mission Burning

Contact: Mike Virgintino, Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, 914-941-7636 ext 2219, mvirgintino@maryknoll.org

OPINION, May 23, 2011 /Christian Newswire/ -- The following is submitted by Father Edward M. Dougherty, M.M., Superior General, Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers:

    Every time our lives reach a significant new milestone, we join with family and friends in a joyous celebration. The same often occurs when we commemorate an anniversary at an organization that has become an integral part of our personal or work lives, and especially at one that deeply touches our hearts and souls.

    For me and for those with whom I serve, along with the U.S. Catholic Church and 60 million Catholics across the country, this year is a celebratory milestone within our church. We are remembering 100 years of mission.

    Through our baptism, we all have been called to mission. During every day of our lives, we each have the opportunity to choose the way we wish to serve. Some people focus on prayer while others support their local communities. Some people provide donations to help the poor and disenfranchised, and some of us have been called to spread God's word by living with and serving His flock around the world.

    Our mission on behalf of the U.S. Church began on June 29, 1911, our Foundation Day and the feast of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. On this day 100 years ago, Pope Pius X met with Father James A. Walsh of Massachusetts and Father Thomas F. Price of North Carolina, and he offered his blessing to the Catholic Foreign Mission Society of America. You know us as the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers.

    One year later, Sister Mary Rogers began the Maryknoll Sisters. Along the way, our mission family within the U.S. Church has grown to include the Maryknoll Lay Missioners and the Maryknoll Affiliates.

    As superior general of the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers during this celebratory time, and with the support and prayers of my colleagues on the Maryknoll Society's general council (Father Jose Arámburu, Father Edward McGovern and Father Paul Masson) along with those of all our Society members, it is our responsibility to keep mission alive throughout the world. Collectively, all of us at Maryknoll will ensure that the flame of mission continues to burn brightly in the hearts of all U.S. Catholics.

    Our centennial message -- The Gift of Mission -- The Maryknoll Journey -- commemorates a century of sharing God's love through the celebration of the Eucharist and the sacraments, the teaching of the faith, combating poverty, providing healthcare, building communities and promoting human rights. We also are marking this milestone by looking forward and finding new ways to continue our journey to provide religious education, offer academic and vocational training, foster sustainable agriculture and economic development, and encourage youth formation and interfaith dialogue. 

    Maryknoll currently is engaged in mission programs in 28 countries that include the U.S. In embracing the Gift of Mission, Maryknollers continue to share the Gospel and serve the poor in Asia, Latin America, and Africa while working to help animate U.S. Catholics to their baptismal call to mission.

    During our first century, the more than 2,000 Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers who have served in mission from parishes across the country have touched the lives of hundreds of thousands of people around the world. Our response to the mandate to spread the Gospel evolved as global human needs were encountered in the field afar and caring for people holistically became our focus. We live among the people we serve. We enrich them and become enriched by them in return.

    Our significant accomplishments, with the support of our bishops, parishes and Catholics here at home, have included building the local church in all the areas we have served along with encouraging education and formation of local priests, brothers, sisters and laity. During our history, Maryknoll also contributed to the peaceful transition of Japanese refugees out of China and back to post-war Japan during the 1940s, facilitated relief work in post-war Korea during the 1950s, provided medical care for AIDS patients in Africa, guided the poor who suffered during brutal regimes in Latin America and ministered to those affected by the events of 9/11.

    Today, as Maryknoll continues its mission journey into a new century with more than 100 apostolic projects, we are recommitting ourselves to forge a Society that continues to be worthy of the sacrifices made by Maryknoll missioners during the first 100 years.

    May all of us at Maryknoll continue to be stirred by a deep love of God, just as God's own love gives ultimate meaning to our lives. May we continue to be stirred by a deep love of Christ, the one who embodies the divine presence and reveals the face of God to us.

    We are full of thanksgiving to Almighty God for the many blessings afforded us over this first century, and we pray that God will continue to bless each and every Maryknoller -- here at home and overseas, every Maryknoll priest and Brother and all of our Maryknoll Sisters, Maryknoll Associates and Maryknoll Affiliates -- and all the people who partner with us in mission.

    We seek the continued prayers and support of all members of the U.S. Church to help us continue our mission journey to do God's work for another hundred years. We also ask that all U.S. Catholics celebrate the Gift of Mission with us by renewing their baptismal call to mission.

Philadelphia born and raised, Father Edward M. Dougherty joined Maryknoll during 1974. He has served in mission in Tanzania and Kenya. His six-year term as the Society's superior general will continue through 2014. At that time, his hope, with God's blessing, is to return to mission.

To learn more about Maryknoll's programs around the world and in the U.S., visit www.maryknollsociety.org to read the stories that are featured in Maryknoll magazine and Revista Maryknoll, and heard on the Society's English and Spanish-language radio programs. Become a friend of Maryknoll on Facebook (www.facebook.com/maryknollsociety) and follow Maryknoll news on Twitter (twitter.com/MaryknollNews).