An event of this size, including eight presenters, six meals, five spirituality segments and seven, or more, additional activities started Friday evening, September 11, and concluded with Sunday lunch, September 13. Clearly, this event can only be experienced, in a way appropriate for regional gathering on Maryknoll Affiliates, by a team of amazing leaders. That is exactly what we in the Chicago area were gifted, not only on these conference days, but also for the prior eight months in planning, reorganizing, throwing out, restating, expanding, contracting and many other stages of the bewildering conference planning and execution. The people participating in these creative stages with me were Celine Woznica, Dan Driscoll-Shaw, Liz Lebron from the Chicago Central chapter, Father Carl Meulemans MM from the Appleton Wisconsin Chapter and Fred Goddard the Affiliate Executive Coordinator. This path to success was often not clear.
However, the experience of fulfillment during and after the conference seems clear, to me, as an outpouring of gifts from our Creator-Savior-Provider.
A wise mentor illumined my pathway years ago with the simple statement, “We Americans are a busy people”. Finding time to focus on this significant and special Maryknoll Affiliate Midwest Region event was not easy for these people in the Chicago Central Chapter who already have major commitment to family and work career. We were blessed to have these companions in the program design who have exceptional leadership skills and a range of experiences that complemented our needs for the different segments of the conference.
Two others completed the team. Father Carl Meulemans MM stepped in and out at the right times throughout the months of program development with suggestions, encouragement and evaluations. He also gathered content, provided guidance to the Spirituality committee and shared leadership for the Spirituality segments of the Conference. Fred Goddard was always available to provide suggestions on where to find the path forward when we were lost in the woods.
The above are the main actors in the drama, and light comedy, of this conference program planning. Also, there were conference content and presenter recommendations:
- The Milwaukee chapter made excellent recommendations on conference content.
- Father Jack Sullivan MM and Victor Maqque recommended Joe Holland as our Keynote speaker presenting Regeneration of Lay Christian Communities. http://joe-holland.org/Documents/1-catholic-prophetic-mystical-communites-2-page.pdf (You may download other documents from Joe Holland here).
- Father Jim Madden MM joined us by video Skype and digital projector to present perspective from Peru on Honduras and current conditions in Peru.
- Liz Lebron introduced us to the Maryknoll Office of Global Concern.
- Renate Schneider recently returned to the Chicago Central Chapter after six years in Haiti and gave us an overview of life in that country.
- Dan Driscoll-Shaw introduced us to Lisa Sullivan from SOA Watch, who gave us a perspective on changing leadership in Central and South America. http://soaw.org/article.php?id=1750
- Dave Rezek recommended Paul LeFort to present microfinance by FINCAs Village Banking Campaign.
- Celine Woznica recommended Kamaria Porter Community Organizer, from United Power for Justice and Action who presented ‘10 percent is enough’.
- Fred Goddard presented an introduction to using the new Affiliate web site.
We were also blessed by committee volunteers:
- Registration was provided by Maureen Doyle, Chicago West Chapter, Kathie Gribble, Fox Valley Wisconsin Chapter and Florence McGuire, Extended Affiliate member.
- Hospitality was provided by Maureen Doyle, Kathie Gribble and Celine Woznica.
- Transportation was provided by Chuck Russell, Chicago West Chapter, Don Woznica, Chicago Central Chapter, Father John Eybel MM, Chicago Central Chapter, Dan Maloney and Barbara Soricelli, Chicago North Chapter, Maureen Doyle, Chicago West Chapter and Dan Driscoll-Shaw, Chicago Central Chapter.
- Spirituality was provided by Father Carl Meulemans MM, Fox Valley Wisconsin Chapter, Barbara Soricelli, Chicago North Chapter and Tom McGuire, Extended Affiliate member, Father Jack Sullivan MM Affiliate Retreat Director.
However there are many other supporting cast members, which if listed, would nearly be as long as the list of conference participants. A summary of the content from conference presenters remains to be developed and deserves a space of its own.
It only remains, saving the best for last, to profusely thank, Maureen, my personal companion, wife, and pathway of life explorer, who accompanied my along this conference journey. Without you, this adventure of countless blessings for all conference participants could not have started or reached a grace filled completion.