Sister Marie Morgan is one of our poets and has shared memorable verses for both tragic and joyful occasions during her years in mission in El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico and the United States. The following poem remembers the women who were martyred with six Jesuit priests in 1988.
16th of November
No books written, no sermons preached,
Protagonists of the daily –
Elba kept house and kept fed all those Jesuits –
Elba of the ready smile, the spontaneous laugh,
who didn’t like to have her picture taken.
Celina, a student like so many others –
a bit intense – she wants to see
a better world,
a better El Salvador.
There they were, alongside their Jesuit brothers –
Celina finished her day of studies,
Elba gave them all their supper –
And then witnessed with their lives
what it means to be a Christian
in El Salvador.
Sister Marie Morgan who hails from Pittsburgh, PA has been serving in El Salvador since 1988. Initially she worked in youth and adult reflection groups in a semi-rural parish. Then, after a time on the Maryknoll AIDS Task Force in NY, she continued this ministry in El Salvador as a member of the Archdiocesan AIDS Prevention Team. This involved travel to towns and villages as well as the poor barrios of San Salvador. The preventive education program has expanded with multipliers in many schools and parishes. In these, enthusiastic young people share basic AIDS information with their peers.
Sister Marie and the other Sisters appreciate participation in the Maryknoll Mission Community in El Salvador, along with lay missioners and priests. Although serving in different ministries, they come together regularly for reflection days, celebrating holidays and birthdays, planning orientation of new members and other occasions as a group.
In Guatemala Sister Marie lived in a mountainous village that could be reached only by horseback when she first arrived. She was involved in a weavers’ cooperative, catechetics and leadership training. Later she had a very different experience doing urban pastoral work in Guatemala City in a parish of eight thousand families.
She was also in mission in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico and in Mexico City. In both places her ministry was with Basic Christian Communities, seen as a new way of being Church. She commented, “I am amazed at the positive changes that occur when a small group of people join together to reflect and pray. The first thing that happens is the improvement of relationships within the family and with neighbors.”
As a pharmacist, Sister Marie’s first assignment was to Queen of the World Hospital in Kansas City, MO where she worked for twelve years with a team of Maryknoll Sisters to establish the first fully integrated hospital in that city. It was the early years of the Civil Rights movement in the U.S.
Before returning to the Sisters Center in 2011 to continue her retirement, Sister Marie served as Contact Person and bookkeeper for the Sisters in El Salvador and continued in volunteer work with the Children’s Peace Library, and with the AIDS Prevention group in the parish of Santa Cruz in Soyapango.