Dear Readers,

Wildfire season is back again in North America, and it’s only just begun. The season typically runs from May to October when warm and dry conditions leave forests at high risk (Korte). Polluted air from uncontrolled wildfires is tragically common along the West Coast. If you live in the Northeast, however, you may have witnessed this nightmare for the very first time. Watching the sky turn yellow over our beautiful Maryknoll on June 7th, knowing that wildfires continued to rage across the Canadian provinces, was terrifying. It looked like a scene from a post-apocalyptic movie. It smelled like one too. The scent of charred wood and ashes invaded the building. Despite our best efforts, it took several days for the smell to disappear.

This isn’t the first time that Maryknoll has experienced natural disasters at home. Upstate New York sees our fair share of blizzards, thunderstorms, etc. We’ve written about it in our blog before:

Yellow, smoky skies are a new phenomenon to many people living here, however. Maryknoll Fathers, Brothers, and Sisters kept detailed house diaries that documented the daily lives of their communities. Weather patterns were recorded regularly as they impacted travel plans, feast days, holiday celebrations, shopping trips, and laundry days. Rainstorms, thunderstorms, and blizzards are frequently noted throughout the years, but I have not seen any mention of wildfires reaching Maryknoll, NY. We are living through historically unprecedented events.

Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns (MOGC)

Representing Maryknoll Fathers & Brothers, Maryknoll Sisters, and Maryknoll Lay Missioners, the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns leads the charge in humanitarian initiatives, one of which is Environmental Justice. As stated on their website, “Climate change is at the center of the environmental challenges facing the global community” (MOGC).

You can learn more about their Environmental Justice initiative here:

Please consider lending your support to this valuable office and their hard work to ensure a healthy environment for all. Without the MOGC staff and their supporters fighting for our present and future, the Maryknoll Mission Archives would have a hard time protecting our past.

Maryknoll Affiliates Laudato Si’ Working Group

Are you interested in taking action in your community or personal life?

The Maryknoll Affiliates Laudato Si’ Working Group offers resources to help you meet the seven action goals of the Laudato Si Action Platform, as stated in Pope Francis’ encyclical letter, Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home. Each goal is paired with worksheets and action plans to empower you and your family towards making a difference.

Staying Healthy Despite Air Pollution

Unfortunately, we need to be prepared for this to happen again. Wildfire season has just begun. Everyone here at the Maryknoll Mission Archives has gone through some disaster preparedness training. We’re usually protecting and preserving our collections, but today we’d like to share our knowledge to help keep you and your loved ones safe in the future.

  • Check the weather. Most weather channels and websites provide the Air Quality Index (AQI) for each day. Knowing your level of risk helps you make informed decisions.
  • Stay inside if you are able. Keep windows and door shut tight!
  • Consider purchasing an air purifier. We noticed a significant different when we turned on the office purifiers. We all felt better and the smell was not as overpowering.
  • Need to go outside? An N95 mask (or higher grade) can help reduce the amount of hazardous particles you inhale.
  • Avoid exercising and other strenuous actives outside, even if you have a mask on. Your lungs will thank you later.

Stay safe,

          Maryknoll Mission Archives

Interested in learning more about Maryknoll? You can contact the Archives at:

Maryknoll Mission Archives
PO Box 305, Maryknoll, New York 10545
Phone: 914-941-7636
Office hours: 8:30 am-4:00 pm Monday-Friday


Conning, S. (2015, December 18). Winters past… Maryknoll Mission Archives.

Conning, S. (2018, August 3). Rain, rain, and more rain… Maryknoll Mission Archives.

Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. (2021). Laudato si’ goals. Laudato Si’ Action Platform.

Environmental Justice. Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns. (2023, June).

Fathers and Brothers mission diaries, 1912-1969. Maryknoll Mission Archives. (2013).

Hassan, A. (2023, June 8). The air quality index explained: What it means and how to stay safe. The New York Times.

Korte, C. (2023, June 9). How did the Canadian wildfires start? A look at what’s causing the fires that covered the east coast in Smoke. CBS News.

Maryknoll affiliates Laudato si resources. Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns. (2023, April 3).

On care for our common home, Laudato Si’. Orbis Books. (2016).

Sisters mission diaries, 1912-1968. Maryknoll Mission Archives. (2013).

Staff and volunteers. Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns. (2023, May 9).

 On Care for Our Common Home

Laudato Si’

The Encyclical of Pope Francis on the Environment

with Commentary by Sean McDonagh

Available through Orbis Books