Sister Judith Noone

Sister Judith NooneSister Judith Noone
Location – Guatemala

Judith (Judy) Noone was born November 17, 1947 in New York City to Nancy (Maxwell) and Charles M. Noone. She had 3 sisters: Barry, Margaret and Mary Ann and one brother, Robert E. Judy graduated from St. Mary’s Academy High School, Alexandria, VA in 1963. Four years later, in 1969, she received a Bachelor of Arts-English degree from the College of Notre Dame of Maryland University, Baltimore, MD.

On September 11, 1969, Judy entered the Maryknoll Sisters in St. Louis, MO from her hometown of Alexandria, Va. She professed First Vows June 22, 1973 in Bolivia and Final Vows January 9, 1976 also in Bolivia. She received her first mission assignment to Bolivia in 1971. There she was involved in Pastoral and Religious Education and, in Guayaramerin, with a literacy program.

She returned to NY in 1974 for studies at the Maryknoll School of Theology where she earned a Master of Arts-Religious Studies degree in 1975.

She had been a Maryknoll Sister little more than 10 years when a seminal event happened in her missioner life. In December 1980, two Maryknoll Sisters along with two other American missioners were slain by a military unit in El Salvador. The two Maryknoll Sisters, an Ursuline Sister and a lay missioner were working among the poor in El Salvador at the time of their murders.

Back home, the American public was stunned by their deaths, and Maryknollers like Sister Judy tried to make sense of what had happened. At the time, Judy was serving in the Sisters’ Communications Office. In 1981, she collected, in a paperback book entitled, “The Same Fate as The Poor,” the letters the martyrs had written from their mission in El Salvador.“The Same Fate as the Poor” included the life stories of each of the missioner martyrs and reflections on the environment in which the Maryknoll Sisters had worked. The book made headlines in newspapers and magazines.

Sister Judy had long felt an affinity with preserving the traditions of the indigenous peoples in the Americas.

In Bolivia and Guatemala, Sister Judy actually lived alongside local peoples. In Bolivia, she helped resettle migrant workers, led literacy programs, taught adult education classes, and did home visiting in remote areas.

In1985, Sister Judy moved her ministry to Guatemala, where she lived with the Quiche peoples as they labored as subsistence farmers. Sister Judy learned their local language and helped them celebrate their Mayan heritage.

As a result of the November 1993 diocesan assembly in San Marcos, Guatemala, when the bishop spoke of the urgent need for Sisters to do pastoral work with the women in the diocese, especially in the rural areas, Sister Judy’s ministry was an outgrowth.

Along with four other Maryknoll Sisters who work there, Sister Judy coordinated projects and workshops so Guatemalans could work on a community level and bridge discriminatory attitudes. Workshops on domestic violence, alcoholism, HIV/AIDS, gender issues and ecology, along with Bible studies and literacy, helped adults respond to problems that had become rampant in Guatemalan society.

In 1993, Sister Judy earned a Master of Arts degree in Anthropology at the American University, Washington, DC.

 With a master’s degree in anthropology, Sister Judy was able to more than just appreciate the cultures of these indigenous peoples. She had also helped local Guatemalans earn their own income through home-grown businesses that sold and marketed fruits and vegetables, candles and soaps, and a variety of woven products.