Maryknoll Sisters, the first U.S.-based Catholic congregation of women religious dedicated to foreign missions, celebrated its 100th anniversary with a special Mass at its world headquarters in Ossining, New York, on Jan. 8. The liturgy—which, due to size of venue, was attended by invitation only or via live stream broadcast over the Web—was celebrated by Archbishop Timothy Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York. Sister Janice McLaughlin, president of Maryknoll Sisters, made opening remarks.
Ossining, New York Mayor William Hanauer was in attendance. Ambassadors to the United States from each of the 25 countries in which Maryknoll Sisters currently serve were also invited.
Founded on Jan. 6, 1912, by Mother Mary Joseph (Mollie) Rogers, a graduate of Smith College, the congregation initially consisted of a small group of young women who provided support services to Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers. At first the women were located in rented housing in Hawthorne, New York, before moving to Ossining, where they continued to help the Fathers and Brothers publish and distribute “The Field Afar,” a magazine dedicated to publicizing the mission work of Maryknoll. Several years later, the sisters began active service in the world themselves, initially working among Japanese immigrants in Los Angeles, then Seattle, before embarking upon their first foreign mission in 1921.
Dedicated to making God’s love visible through humanitarian pursuits, the sisters, who currently number nearly 500, live and serve in 25 countries around the world, including Asia, Africa, Central and South America, the Pacific Islands, and the United States. Together with staff of other humanitarian organizations—Catholic, interfaith and secular—they serve as educators, nurses doctors, counselors and social workers, as well as advocates for women’s rights, youth issues and environmental concerns. They also minister to the needs of AIDS victims and their families, work to end human trafficking, and speak out on behalf of the poor to government agencies, the United Nations, in the media and elsewhere.
The Jan. 8 liturgy was the first of many planned activities celebrating the Sisters’ centennial throughout 2012. Other events planned for the coming year include:
- Interfaith Harmony Prayer Day Feb. 5
- Centennial Art Exhibit by Sister Yoo Soo Kim, MM, March 3–May 18
- Sixth Annual Music for the World Concert, featuring the Hudson Valley Symphonic Wind Ensemble, March 4
- Hearts on Fire: The Maryknoll Sisters Mission Symposium April 20–21
- Maryknoll on the Hill, a visit to government offices and reception with representatives from U.S. Congress in Washington, D.C., May 16–17
- Centennial Liturgical Concert, featuring musicians David Haas, Marty Haugen and Michael Joncas, May 20
- Dedication of the Sisters’ Garden of Gratitude and Promise on June 2
- Celebration of Land Preservation via Conservation Easement on June 3
- Miriam College High School Glee Club Concert July 2
- Joint Maryknoll Mission Symposium Sept. 28–30
- International Bazaar and Multicultural Festival Oct. 27
For more information about Maryknoll Sisters, visit their web site: www.maryknollsisters.org.