Two people hug one another during a "dance of peace" performed during Holy Thursday liturgy at Kitali refugee camp in Tanzania, 1996

There is something so powerful about shared experiences. They create a bond between people that will always be present. These experiences may be formed as you go through something together. They may also be forged as you open up and tell someone about your experiences and, in turn, open your heart and listen to theirs. Sharing together in the celebrations, sadness, and routines of everyday life bonds us in a way that we do not necessarily see but that we feel so strongly. I began to see this common thread of reflecting on shared experiences as I looked through the Lay Missioners, Sisters, and Fathers & Brothers materials. Each of the four excerpts below touches on the significance of shared experiences in a different way. Please take a moment to enjoy their reflections!

“Six months or a lifetime? This is the question that is currently running through my head. When I close my eyes and think about my life since January, the images that come to my mind and NOT images of the beautiful, interesting countries that we have visited. The images are faces! The faces of the people who have entered and passed through my life these last several months.[..]

Six months or a lifetime? I really don’t know, but what I do know is that when you share laughter and tears, joy and heartache with people there are no language barriers! What I know for sure is that our world is not made up of countries and governments; it is made up of people! People all over the world understand laughter and tears. I don’t know what ‘work’ I will be doing in El Salvador but I do know that I will go there and share my laughter and my tears and I hope that will be a start in the right direction.”

 MLMA Newsletters, “Detour to El Salvador,” Former Lay Missioners, The Buresons, July 1997, p. 3

A marriage enrichment program with former maryknoll lay missioners, Dick and Nancy Bureson in El Salvador
Former Maryknoll Lay Missioner, Marty Roers dancing with parish school boys in Sudan, 2002

“I guess what I’ve learned from it all is the powerful love associated in sharing my experiences of ministry in Bura Tana with others. I’ve heard rumors that my last letter describing the deaths and difficult life in Bura, brought tears to some people’s eyes. And I don’t know if I should apologize or what – but maybe in some small way the world and church is brought a little closer and filled with a little more love by those tears. As I was told several years ago before I left to Central America, becoming a missionary means you’ll have many goodbyes. I never truly imagined that with each goodbye the tears only flow […] harder and a[re] filled more with love than the one before.”

MLMA Newsletters, Former Lay Missioners Marty Roers, September 26, 1997

Sr. Ann Hayden enjoying a laugh with the women of Villa Nueva in Nicaragua, 1998

“Common Ground

There is a common good – a best practice of the
human community; a stance of solidarity in right
relationship with all of creation. It is as simple as
breathing and ordinary as dirt.

It is as warmly nourishing as newly baked bread;
strongly supportive as a neighbor’s solid shoulders;
richly fertile as moist, composted earth and
as available as an attentive friend.

This sacred field of communion is turned and tilled by
willing hearts, seeded with honest truth, watered with
the abundant tears of forgiveness, cultivated in service
to one another and harvested in a mutually fruitful love.

It is the good ground we stand on together. It is the
God-space of our inter-abiding where we know deeply
the communion that is gift to be received, given and
received again in the round dance of God’s life in all.”

By Sr. Ann Hayden
A Maryknoll Book of Poetry, p. 99


Lives entwined freely
through a bond of mutual trust

Giving rise to renewed hope
that one is not alone

Simply being present to the other
willingly accepted for who I am

Risking oneself in costly vulnerability
leaving behind the mask of pretend

Reaching out with hands extended
experiencing the return of endearing affection

Precious gem of priceless value
Bestowed upon those who choose to share

One is changed through honest interaction
That enlarges the heart in jubilant gratitude!”

By Fr. Michael Bassano, July 13, 1990
The Unwinding Journey: Poems of a Maryknoll Missioner in Chile, 1990-1996

Fr. Michael Bassano visits with a patient at the Buddhist AIDS hospice in Thailand, 2005