“It is clear to me that the main thing I see is to be in mission to serve others.”
Sister Joan Mury was born in Irvington, New Jersey. After graduating from Archbishop Walsh High School, she studied Physical Education and Health for two years at Montclair State College, entering the Maryknoll Sisters in 1962. She was assigned to the Bolivia-Peru Region in 1970. Until her actual departure for Bolivia, Sister worked in the Maryknoll Post Office.
After studying Spanish in Cochabamba, she worked in a Maryknoll parish, San Pedro, for six months while living with a Bolivian family to practice her Spanish. She then went to the Bolivian Altiplano where she worked as part of a team of Maryknoll priests, Brothers, Sisters, two Bolivian Sisters and a Bolivian Deacon. They worked in three rural parishes. This group attended one hundred sixty rural communities. Sister Joan worked in the promotion of women and with the indigenous catechists. She has also worked in Nicaragua and El Salvador for short periods of time.
In 1996 Sister Joan was elected to the Congregational Leadership Team at Maryknoll, NY where she served until 2002. She did further studies, auditing classes in Catholic Theological Union in Chicago in Ecology, the Environment and Reconciliation.
In 2003 Sister Joan returned to the Campus Ministry Center in La Paz, Bolivia, which she and a Kansas City priest began in 1994. It was to serve the state university with seventy-four thousand students and the Teachers College with some three thousand five hundred students. Most of the students are indigenous Aymaras who are the first in their families to receive higher education. After thirteen years the Center grew to have student commissions to organize the pastoral activities. the Christian Formation Commission organizes weekly liturgies, prayer sessions and various kinds of retreats. The Culture and Education Commission organizes workshops and themes relating to religion, politics and social situations. For the past six years, students have spent a month of their vacation as volunteer missioners in the service of the impoverished and marginated Bolivian people in the rural areas, and learned from the people the realities of their country and the need of service to others. The evangelization at all of these levels has led to the fulfillment of the mission of the Center. Sister Joan and her co-worker felt it was time to turn the Center over to Bolivian pastoral agents. After discussion with the Archbishop, a young Bolivian priest and a young Bolivian woman theologian were named to this ministry. Both are very talented pastoral agents who will continue to develop the Center. Although sad to leave on February 9, 2008 they were happy to know the Bolivian church had taken on this pastoral responsibility.
Sister Joan presently helps coordinate the Archdiocesan Offices of Catechetics, Formation and Vocations in La Paz. She is a member of the Executive Committee of Maryknoll Joint Short-Term Mission & Immersion Experiences in Bolivia, facilitating mission for North Americans through exposure trips and volunteer opportunities. She also collaborates and accompanies “Fourth World,” an ecumenical group from different countries interested in giving time and service to the impoverished.