Sister Marion Hughes

Current Ministry Location: Maryknoll Sisters Center-Maryknoll, NY 

Sister Marion was born January 5th, 1937 in New Rochelle, NY to Elizabeth Daly Hughes and Peter Hughes. She had one brother and two sisters. Sister Marion graduated from St. Gabriel High School, New Rochelle in 1955. Then, attended the College of Mt. St. Vincent, Riverdale, NY where she earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in 1959.

Sister Marion entered the Maryknoll Sisters Congregation at the Maryknoll Sisters Center, Maryknoll, NY on September 2nd, 1959. She pronounced First Vows at the Sisters Center on June 24th, 1962 and Final Vows on June 24th, 1968 in Tanzania East Africa. In 1964, she received her Certificate as a lab technician from St. Joseph’s Hospital in Kansas City, and the same year was assigned to Tanzania.

After language study, she taught at Rosary College, a Maryknoll Sisters secondary school for girls, and St. Mary’s Seminary, both in Mwanza, Tanzania. She also was the business administrator for Nyegezi Social Training Center, and then was in charge of two teams for maternal and child clinics. She also worked on a church leadership training team and helped distribute food sent by Catholic Relief Services in the United States.

With three Tanzanians, Sister Marion began an AIDS orphan project called (in Swahili) Watoto Wapinge Ukimwi in Musoma in 1999. Its goal was to keep AIDS orphans in school at least until they finished their primary grades.

Some of the children who were chosen to continue their education were also helped depending on the family situation and the ability of the child. Counselors in each section were responsible for the children, teachers and families. They engaged the school and the villages in identifying the children most in need and asked for their input on possible solutions to problems.

Most of the children in the AIDS project are from rural areas. In addition, many are living with grandparents, aunts or uncles, and a few are being raised by siblings. The ages vary from 7 – 19. The children may lack psychological support or there is no one in the family to praise and challenge them. There also are cases of abuse and lack of care.

In 2005, Sister Marion began Lisa’s Pride, an organization for children in Tanzania who are HIV-positive. The group was founded with funds raised to create a memorial for a girl named Lisa, though people have continued to donate in Lisa’s memory. The program gives nutrition and medical care to local children.

The program also serves as a support group for the children and their caregivers. Also, advice is shared to help keep children healthy and give them a chance to be like normal kids. There is also a make-a-wish component: children have asked for toys, clothes, and even mattresses.

All of her experiences prepared Sister Marion for the crisis of the AIDS pandemic, which continues to be one of the major causes of death in her last mission in Musoma.

Due to health reasons, Sister Marion returned to the Maryknoll Sisters Center, Maryknoll, NY.