CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 17 November 2018

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A visit to the Maryknoll Motherhouse- A series of reflections

Fifteen students and three teachers from Maryknoll Convent School (Secondary Section) visited the motherhouse of the Maryknoll Sisters in Ossining, the United States of America from August 10 to 20 to retrace their roots and visited the Maryknoll Sisters who served in Hong Kong, especially the school  
 
 
The 10-day visit to New York and the Maryknoll Motherhouse was a meaningful, inspiring and rewarding journey. Thanks to the warm welcome extended by the sisters, our stay was exceptionally enjoyable.
 
“Once a Maryknoller, forever a Maryknoller.” The stay allowed me to delve deeper into the roots of my school, strengthening my understanding of our heritage, as well as strengthening my sense of belonging. 
 
We visited the Heritage Museum and the graves of late sisters, including that of Mother Mary Joseph, the founder of Maryknoll. Despite having frequently been told the history of our school, being so close to our roots made it so much more vivid. 
 
During our stay, we attended Masses, listened to talks and sang and danced for the sisters. The food was better than I expected, and with the delicious meals, I did not miss Chinese food, especially when there was even a Chinese meal provided one evening. 
 
Visiting the sisters and chatting with them was enjoyable, especially when they were so generous and willing to share with us their experiences and life stories. The visit to Sister Corinne was particularly touching. We sang the school song twice for the 101-year-old, which left us all with mixed feelings. 
 
Though each sister had a different mission, I learnt that their duties actually served the same purpose, which was to spread love “to home, to country, to the world” and having been able to spread our joy and love with all the sisters, I was overwhelmed with gratitude. 
 
Words cannot express the feeling of happiness in making others happy.
 
One thing that wrecked my heart was the history of Maurita Lounge, the place where we happily discussed our plans and feelings. It was actually built on a tragic truth: in memory of the lay missionary, Jean Donovan, as well as three Maryknoll sisters, Ita Ford, Maura Clarke and Dorothy Kazel, who were beaten, raped and murdered in El Salvador. 
 
This heart-wrenching story led me to reflect a great deal, their selflessness reminding me that we too should, choose our path with strong conviction.
 
The natural surroundings of the Motherhouse exposed us to various new experiences, bringing us lots of joyful memories. Early in the morning, we were taken out to the fields to harvest tomatoes, corn-on-the-cob and beans, as well as pull out weeds in the garden. Weeding was my favourite activity. 
 
We had to dig the weeds out from the soil and pull them out by the roots, one by one. In the end, it was extremely satisfying to see the garden clean and neat, and dumping the picked weeds down a steep hill gave me the feeling of getting rid of a big burden. 
 
In the evening, we were able to enjoy the breathtaking view of the sunset, and what made this even more exciting was the sighting of wild animals such as deer, geese, rabbits, raccoons and fireflies. The beauty of nature led me to exclaim in astonishment. Yet, what have we done to deserve such wondrous creations of God? 
 
Reflecting upon the talk the sisters gave us about environmental issues, and recalling the destruction that we, human, have done to the planet, I could not help but feel guilty.
 
In addition, we also went on a two-day tour of New York City. As a first-time visitor, the bustling city intoxicated me with a sense of wonder at its neon signs and its lively atmosphere. On our first day, we visited the Statue of Liberty, Manhattan and the 9/11 Museum. 
 
It had been raining all, but thanks to God, the rain miraculously stopped when we arrived at the Statue of Liberty and, funnily enough, it began to rain again as we left. 
 
I just felt so blessed. On our second day in the city, it was our great pleasure to have Sister Arlene, Sister Esther, Sister Norma and Sister Susan travelling with us. We visited the Empire State Building and had a great time.
 
Lastly, there was the cultural performance, which indeed was a splendid night. Sincere thanks to the sisters for watching us perform in the Rogers Basement, I deeply appreciated their unlimited support for us. 
 
For all the excitement, the event also signalled the sorrow of parting, as it was our last night at the Motherhouse. 
 
Saying goodbye the next day was undeniably hard, but I understand that despite the distance, the memory of our visit will always be imprinted on my heart. No doubt I will visit Maryknoll Motherhouse again. God bless!
 
 
• Christie Lam, Form Four