Maryknoll Sisters: Peacemakers


Jesus’ words were spoken at a time when he was preparing his disciples for the trials to come: his Passion and crucifixion. At the same time, he promised to return and also to send us the Holy Spirit to be our guide and advocate.

“Peace” was at the heart of everything Jesus taught us and everything he did for us. With that Maryknoll sisters strive to bring “Peace” to people and the world.

“Peace I leave you with; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
—John 14:27


How do Maryknoll Sisters promote Peace?

Maryknoll sisters help sit with people and listen. No matter what country they serve in, they are always trying to understand what hurting people are going through. They hold sacred the pain people are feeling and pray to find peaceful solutions to complicated problems.

Make A Difference

Sister Story: Tana Delta district in the East African nation of Kenya

The Peace Team: Sisters Sia, Giang and Teresa
The Peace Team: Sisters Sia, Giang, and Teresa.

Sisters Giang Nguyen, Sia Temu, and Teresa Hougnon serve in the Tana Delta district in the East African nation of Kenya. There they established Conversations for Social Change, a program through which problems can be solved through talking rather than fighting.

The tribes living in that area have a history of violent clashes rooted in old ethnic rivalries. Two of the tribes, the Pokomo and Orma, experienced such a conflict that lasted several months.

“On the day of the attack,” the Sisters report, “some of the victims ran to the school to hide. They were killed in the classrooms. All those killed were children, pregnant mothers and the elderly who were not able to outrun the attackers.”

With the two sides stuck in a cycle of vengeance, Conversations for Social Change requested permission to bring the two sides together to try to begin healing the hatred and distrust. Though both tribes are Muslim, they welcomed this trio of Catholic Sisters into their communities.

The Sisters tell us, “Over eight months we met with about 80 people in small groups of 10. The program ended with a two day retreat, to deepen their conversation and look at a way forward. The participants were committed to continue the work for reconciliation but did not yet feel they were reconciled.”

The victory of peace is illustrated by two of the women involved in these talks.

One is Aisha, the wife of the Orma tribe’s Imam. Her son was killed in the attack on the schoolhouse, and she also lost her father in the conflict. When the Conversation program began, she was angry and bitter and refused to even be in the same room with a Pokomo. As time passed, though, she came to see her grief as a motivator for change rather than revenge, wanting to bring an end to the conditions that led to her family members’ deaths. “I am here because I am ready to rebuild our country,” she said. 

Haditha, a Pokomo woman, was hesitant to participate in the Conversation Program, as were the other women of her tribe. But that changed when Haditha convinced herself and the other women that nothing would get better without decisive steps toward change. “We are fearful, but we are here because we want to restore our relationship,” she said. “We were friends and we want to go back to the way things were.”

A change began to take place after Conversations for Social Change brought the women of both tribes and the men of both tribes together for separate discussion encounters. After this the ice began to break, and the two sides agreed to a reconciliation. The local government representative was astonished by this breakthrough, telling the tribespeople, “It is true what you have said, the government has failed to reconcile you. It is better that the solution comes from the community. We thank the Maryknoll Sisters for coming and staying with you all these months, and accompanying you in finding the solution.”

By living out Christ’s desire that we should be peacemakers in his name, Sisters Giang, Sia and Teresa brought the gifts of peace and renewal even to people who do not share their faith, and no doubt lives were saved as a result.

“We thank the Maryknoll Sisters for coming and staying with you all these months, and accompanying you in finding the solution”

Pray With Us

A Prayer Peace

God of Compassion, hear the cries of the people around the world that suffer from terrorists’ attacks. Bring healing to those suffering from the violence. Bring comfort to those mourning the dead, and strengthen the people with courage and hope. Convert the hearts of those who have become terrorists,and protect those committed to peace, and give us all hope for a future of peace built on justice for all.We ask this blessing through Jesus the Christ,Source of Peace and Light of the World, who lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen.

Aisha Son Killed in Attack

From the Writings of Martin Luther King
Like an unchecked cancer,
hate corrodes the personality
and eats away its vital unity.
Hate is rooted in fear,
and the only cure for fear is love.
Hatred and bitterness can never cure
the disease of fear;
only love can do that.
Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it.
Hatred confuses life;
love harmonizes it.
Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.
Hate begets hate;
violence begets violence;
toughness begets a greater toughness.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness;
only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate;
only love can do that.
Only love can generate
creative fulfillment.
Love is somehow the key
that unlocks the door which leads
to ultimate communion!