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Pope Francis' simple, artless actions resonate powerfully

'Who am I to judge?' Pope's remarks
do not change
church teaching

FACE scholar is on
her way to Amherst

Chautauqua celebration set
for October 12

Maryknoll offers mission training September 13-15

Principals change
in Fremont

Youth, young adult events on calendar

Younger sisters
see smaller orders ahead, but say
future still bright

Presentation Sisters' gathering

Rev. George Matanic, OP

Sister Nancy Teskey, SNJM

Sister Mary Thomas Magee, PBVM

Mercy Center
provides a home
for a lifetime

Sisters' bathroom remodel project
gets a boost from
SOAR! grant

Senior group 'Tuesdays with Larry' keep Assumption grounds neat

Latin America too
is facing an aging demographic earthquake

First signs of
Alzheimer's can
occur on vacations

Care fits health mission, but too
few aware of it

Different paths
bring doctors,
patients to palliative
care, hospice

placeholder August 12, 2013   •   VOL. 51, NO. 14   •   Oakland, CA
Maryknoll offers mission training September 13-15

John Watkins, coordinator of life and justice ministry in the Diocese of Oakland, learned a lesson on mission from Saul, a young boy he met during a mission trip to Guatemala.
Courtesy photo

When you hear the word "mission trip" you might think of building wells, or feeding the hungry, or putting up walls for a house for which a family has been waiting a long time.

But a profound difference in the mission trip organized by Maryknoll that included a delegation of people from the Diocese of Oakland was that the emphasis was on mission.

John Watkins, coordinator for life and justice ministry in the Diocese of Oakland, learned something about mission when he visited Guatemala for 10 days this summer with a group organized by Maryknoll.

"For us, it was to learn, in a profound way, in our heads and our hearts how to be missionaries," Watkins said.

Among his teachers in this journey was a little boy named Saul. Watkins' reflection on what he learned from Saul follows below.

The group visited a school for children with special needs, an after-school program for gang-affiliated children, the barrio and a home for the elderly. Among the lessons learned: "to be present, even if you are powerless to do anything," Watkins said.

Mission Education Training Program

When: Sept. 13-15
Where: Maryknoll Regional Mission House, San Lorenzo
For: Teachers, principals, directors of religious education, lay ecclesial ministers, catechists, deacons and priests
Contact: Kris East, 510-276-5021
Information: www.maryknoll.us/home/resources/
Maryknoll is offering its mission education training program, designed for teachers, principals, directors of religious education, lay ecclesial ministers, catechists, deacons and priests, next month at its regional center in San Lorenzo.

The retreat, Watson said, is designed for "people who want to learn more about what it means to actively live our faith."

"God is on a mission of love," he said. The opportunity is there for the faithful "to be that love, wherever we are."

Learning to be a missionary

This was the first stop on our mission trip to Esquipulas, Guatemala — La Escuela de los Campiones (The School of the Champions). This was a school for children with special needs on the outskirts of the town.

As we entered the school, I felt a little awkward. It's always humbling to walk into another person's home or place of work but this was especially awkward because I was a foreigner who didn't speak the local language very well. How would I be able to communicate to the children? How could I possible do anything for them?

My guarded state was immediately challenged by a young boy, Saul. Saul was a joyful, outgoing 8-year-old boy with Down syndrome. He made himself the official greeter to our group. No one entered the room without getting a big hug.

Despite my reserved state, Saul made sure I met every one of his school friends and teachers, pulling me from one person to the next. Saul's joy was contagious. Throughout the morning, I could see that Saul made it his business to connect with anyone from our group who was not otherwise engaged with someone else.

Reflecting back on my first encounter with Saul, I could see that he was my first instructor in what it really means to be a missionary. It is not about good programs or profound words. It is about being a person who unreservedly reaches out to others in love (especially those on the margin) as a beloved child of God.

— John Watkins

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