Maryknoll Sisters Provide Healthcare to the Sick and Poor

Maryknoll Sisters Providing Healthcare to Those in Need

Over half of the world’s population does not have access to healthcare. Where health care services are available, accessing healthcare in developing countries is a tremendous financial burden that pushes families into extreme poverty

Furthermore, people in developing countries are disproportionately affected by HIV, malaria, tuberculosis, polio and other infections. And children in these places still die of diarrhea due to a lack of sanitation 

Access to Healthcare is not only a problem in developing countries, it is also a problem in the United States. Maryknoll Sisters minister to the poor throughout the world and in our own backyards. 

 migrant and seasonal farmworkers receiving healthcare

Health can be malnutrition and disease that affects the body; trauma, abuse and stress that take a toll on the mind, the emotions, and the spirit

Sister Story: Sister Gladys Gonzalez, M.M. & Sister Efu Nyaki, M.M.

People in developing countries like Brazil often face challenges that affect all parts of their being… malnutrition and disease that affects the body; trauma, abuse and stress that take a toll on the mind, the emotions, and the spirit. It can be especially difficult for women. 

This is why a holistic approach—one that treats a whole person and not just one aspect—is the most effective. This is the mission that Sister Gladys Gonzalez, M.M. pursues among the people of João Pessoa, a city in eastern Brazil.

Together with Sister Efu Nyaki, M.M., Sister Gladys works at a facility called Afya: Holistic Center for Women. (Afya is the Swahili word for “health.”) The Center serves children and men as well as women, helping to heal trauma through natural medicine, energy therapies which focus on the whole being and on the family; skills training and employment assistance; literacy and education; and healthy diet.

Afya has been in operation for 20 years, and its positive impact on the community is apparent. In fact, Sister Gladys says that many of the therapists who currently work there were people who came to the Center for help years ago.

“What I like the best about my ministry is that it is life-giving, and that is helping me in my own transformational journey,” Sister says. “I don’t call it work; it is, for me, a way of life—it is service. It is itself a healing tool for me.” Sister Gladys puts her own particular gifts to work in another valuable tool for healing the spirit: art. “I’m also an artist and at the Center I also run a program called Healing Trauma Through the Arts. Right now I am ready to build a more proper and spacious place for this specific program, which will be a great service to the Center. In order to continuously run it efficiently, any contribution I can get for it will be gratefully welcomed.”

Sister Gladys and Sister Efu

Sister Gladys and Sister Efu at Afya during a course on trauma healing.


Pray with Us

O Blessed St Roch, Patron of the sick, have pity on those who lie upon a bed of suffering.

Your power was so great when you were in this world, that by the sign of the Cross, many were healed of their diseases.

Now that you are in heaven, your power is no less. Offer to God our sighs and tears and obtain for us the physical and spiritual health we seek:

This we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

St Roch: Pray for us, that we may be relieved from all diseases of body and soul. (Repeat 3 times)

Lord Jesus, may thy will be done.



pray for health
Praying for the health and healing of the whole person.