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Maryknoll Lay Missionaries of the Archdiocese of Baltimore Serve in Kenya Mission

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Maryknoll Lay Missionaries of the Archdiocese of Baltimore Serve in Kenya Mission

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Two Baltimore-area parishioners are among 13 lay Maryknoll missionaries who recently arrived in Africa to serve in a variety of cross-cultural ministries.

Megan Hamilton, a parishioner of St. Vincent de Paul in Baltimore, and Francis Wayne, a parishioner of St. Matthew in Northwood, traveled to Kenya after their “mission sending ceremony” Dec. 11 at the Queen of Apostles Chapel on the Maryknoll campus. in Ossining, NY They currently reside in Nairobi, where they are studying the Swahili language and undergoing cultural orientation before beginning their respective ministry assignments in Mombasa.

Baltimore native Ted Miles led the program as executive director of Maryknoll Lay Missioners for four consecutive years.

“Maryknoll Missionaries are committed to setting an example of Jesus – leaving the world a better place than you found it and making a meaningful contribution, especially to the lives of those who are often marginalized, alienated and impoverished “, said Miles.

Miles grew up in the parishes of St. Agnes in Catonsville and St. Louis in Clarksville. Prior to his current position in New York, he was a parishioner of St. Matthew.

Maryknoll Lay Missionary Russ Brine, left to right, welcomes new Maryknoll Lay Missionaries Susan Feeney, Megan Hamilton and Francis Wayne to Kenya. (Courtesy picture)

In the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Miles worked as a youth minister at St. Michael’s in Poplar Springs and as a teacher at Cardinal Gibbons School in Baltimore. He also served with Catholic Relief Services in Baltimore.

“Baltimore helped nurture the seeds of service and justice in me, and I think that’s what you see in Megan and Francis,” he said.

Hamilton is a former art critic for the Baltimore City Paper and one of the co-founders of the Creative Alliance in Highlandtown, where she served as program director for over 20 years.

She grew up Catholic until fourth grade, when she and her mother separated from the church. As she worked to overcome alcoholism, she said she needed to find “a power greater than herself” by following a 12-step addiction recovery program. She suddenly became interested in finding a religion.

In 2011, Hamilton was riding her bike when a woman ran a red light and hit her. It was a serious accident that reinforced his desire to embrace the faith. In 2012, she recommitted to her Catholic faith at St. Vincent de Paul, where she said she felt “instantly at home”. She receives the Sacrament of Reconciliation and is again welcomed into the Catholic Church.

“St. Vincent was really inspiring,” she said. “There were many amazing examples of service with low-income and homeless people and Catholic education partnerships established in an economically disadvantaged neighborhood. Seeing these people working their faith in the field, in the street, in the park and next to the church was very important to me.

She also found inspiration in the missionary work of the early Maryknoll Sisters, who had such a deep commitment to their overseas missions that they would die and be buried overseas.

Hamilton previously served as a missionary with the Franciscan Mission Service in Jamaica. On her mission trip to Jamaica, she used the 12-step program to serve people who wanted to get sober. She has helped with medicine, helped nuns with dementia, volunteered at a soup kitchen and helped the marginalized. She also did missionary work in Albania with the Peace Corps.

Hamilton said the 12-step program in Baltimore helped her with her 29 years of sobriety. She noted that the US National Survey of Drug Use and Health showed that more than 75% of Americans addicted to alcohol or drugs recover.

“I want to use my recovery story to help people get and stay sober,” she said. “It’s part of my vocation for international volunteering.”

Although her assignment has not been finalized, she expects to do alcohol and drug recovery ministry in Mombasa.

“I want to be the best missionary I can be,” she added. “I think I’m called to do this for the rest of my life.”

Wayne remembers having a prayer life since he was a young boy; he was a choir boy and prayed the rosary in the evening.

He served as a Maryknoll lay missionary in Kenya from 1993 to 1996, teaching carpentry to boys in the Mathari Valley slums and building residences for the Irish Sisters of Mercy who cared for street children in Nairobi. He then became a stay-at-home dad and took care of his two children. In his later years, he worked as a contractor in Riva doing home repairs.

Wayne has volunteered for the Ministry of Prisons, Alternatives for Violence, Appalachian Service Project and Boys to Men.

“I loved becoming a mentor and a listener,” he said on a trip with boys to Appalachia to fix homes in some of the poorest neighborhoods in the country. “To be a Christian is to render service.”

After his children grew up, he again felt a call to serve as a missionary in 2018 during the Maryknoll Lay Mission Jubilee when he received a “calling card” from the contact associate of the Maryland Region of Maryknoll Lay Missionaries.

He remembers seeing disciples having lunch with the Maryknoll sisters and lay missionaries across from him wanting to be a missionary again.

“I felt like God was fishing and he hooked my heart,” he said. “I thought, ‘I’m just going to surrender.’ This makes the mission a good place to live.

He was once again accepted into the Maryknoll Lay Missioners program in 2019 and was ready to go on a mission in 2020. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, his mission trip had to be postponed.

He expects his future ministerial assignment to be tied to his previous ministries and professional career, such as teaching carpentry at a technical school, joining an active group with Alternatives for Violence and serving the homeless population in Mombasa.

According to a press release, the missionaries pledge “to bear witness to the Good News of Jesus Christ, in solidarity with our marginalized and oppressed brothers and sisters”, and “to take care of the earth, our common home, and to respond in service to help create a more just and compassionate world.

The Maryknoll Lay Missioner program begins with an eight-week orientation and training program and continues with a “sending ceremony”. Missionaries then receive language and cultural instruction in their mission country for approximately six months, and then are sent to their specific mission for three years.

“I strongly believe that God calls everyone,” Miles said. “Not everyone is called to live very simply and go around the world. The mission can take place in our own backyard.

He added, “I would encourage people to look at their joys, their strengths and discern, ‘Where is God calling you?’

Email Priscila González de Doran at pdoran@CatholicReview.org

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Maryknoll Lay Missionaries of the Archdiocese of Baltimore Serve in Kenya Mission

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