Maryknoll, NY: Sister Mary Reese, M.M. died on August 17th, 2023, at the Maryknoll Sisters Center, Maryknoll, NY. She was 100 years old and had been a Maryknoll Sister for 77 years.
On December 8th, 1922 Mary was born in Wilmington, DE to Elizabeth Conway Reese and James Reese. She had three brothers who were priests and three sisters; all of her siblings have pre-deceased her.
From 1936 – 1940, Mary attended Ursuline Academy High School in Wilmington, DE. She then studied nursing at St. Francis School of Nursing also in Wilmington where she graduated as a Registered Nurse in 1943. From March 1945-August 1946, Mary served honorably as the First Lieutenant of Oahu Medical Service for the United States Armed Forces in the Middle Pacific. She served in that capacity at Tilton General Hospital in Fort Dix, NJ and in the orthopedic section for five months prior to her overseas assignment. She joined the 147th General Hospital in Honolulu, HI as a General Duty Nurse in Orthopedics and later as an Operation Room Nurse.
Mary entered the Maryknoll Sisters in Maryknoll, NY on October 5th, 1946 (from St. Ann’s parish in Wilmington, DE.) She made her First Profession of Vows on April 6th, 1949 at the Maryknoll Sisters Center in Maryknoll, NY and her Final Vows on April 6th, 1952 also at the Center.
In 1950, she earned her Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing Education at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. She also received her first mission assignment that same year to remain at the Maryknoll Sisters Center to work in the infirmary caring for ill and elderly Sisters. In 1952, when the Maryknoll Sisters Foundress, Mother Mary Joseph had a stroke, Sister Mary was assigned as one of the nurses to care for her. This led to a life-long friendship between them.
In 1953, Sister Mary was assigned to Kowak, Tanzania to learn the language and work in the dispensary and maternity unit of the hospital until 1964. She then moved to Nassa and Mwanza to work in the mission dispensary until 1966. In 1969, Sister Mary was assigned to Kenya at the Kinango Hospital in Mombasa to work as the staff nurse until 1972. She then returned to the Maryknoll Sisters Center, Maryknoll, NY for congregational services at Bethany (a nursing home for elderly Sisters.)
From 1974-1975, she attended the Maryknoll School of Theology graduating with a Master of Arts Degree. She then returned to Africa and worked in Dar es Salaam in 1975 and Musoma in 1981. While in Dar es Salaam, she worked on a project for maternal and child health care until 1980. In Musoma, she worked with AIDS patients and in pastoral ministry. She also worked with AIDS orphans as well as with women’s economics projects until 2009.
In 2010, Sister Mary returned to the Maryknoll Sisters Center, Maryknoll, NY to semi-retire. In 2022 she fully retired to the Eden Community also at the Sisters Center, where she remained until her death on August 17th, 2023. As a final act of service, Sister Mary generously donated her body to science.
A Vespers Service will be held for Sister Mary on September 5th, 2023 at 4:15 p.m. in the Chapel of the Annunciation at the Maryknoll Sisters Center, Maryknoll, NY.
A Memorial Mass will be held on September 6th, 2023 at 10:00 A.M. at the Maryknoll Sisters Center.