Maryknoll Order Holding Conference On Campus

(8-6-98)--Maryknoll priests and brothers from across the globe have gathered at Boston College to mull the changing makeup of their missionary order at a time of decreasing religious vocations and increasing lay participation.

The Under 50 Forum, which began July 27 and wraps up Aug. 7, has drawn nearly all of the Maryknoll order's priests and brothers in that age group. Formally known as the Catholic Foreign Mission Society of America -- its popular name derives from its Ossining, NY, seminary -- the order cares for the poor and needy in 33 countries around the world.

Of the missionary society's 615 members worldwide, 77 are under the age of 50, 68 of whom traveled from Latin America, Asia and Africa to attend the conference at Boston College.

Spokesman Rev. Stephen De Mott said the conference has sought to "confront the changing face of mission and Maryknolls" as the order has evolved from "an all-male clerical society to a mix of clergy and lay, men and women, married and celibate." He noted that greater numbers of lay associates are performing the order's work among refugees of war in Burundi and the Sudan, landmine victims in Cambodia, and street children in Bolivia and Peru.

The Maryknoll conferees have been staying at a residence hall on St. Thomas More Drive while holding their meetings at Fulton Hall, and attending the daily noon mass at St. Mary's Chapel.

"We've enjoyed the tremendous hospitality here at Boston College," said Fr. De Mott, who oversees publication of Maryknoll magazine and a line of books and videos relating to the order's work.

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