“Active mission presence in Japan highlighted and connected me to an aspect of myself which in turn took expression in the contemplative journey of mission. The surprises of a missionary vocation within Maryknoll!”
After a year at St. John’s University in Brooklyn, NY, Sister Marion Phillips entered the Maryknoll Sisters in 1953. She was assigned to Japan and after two years of language study she did pastoral ministry in the ancestral town of the famous Haiku poet, Basho San, and then in the location of the second largest Shinto shrine in Japan to which thousands of pilgrims came at the beginning of each new year to ask blessings. “I was directly and immediately present to both a cultural and religious influence which mirrored the sensitivity and the heart of a people to whom I was invited to be present in the exchange of giving and receiving life.” After ten years she returned to the U.S. and requested assignment to the Maryknoll Sisters Contemplative Community in NY in 1969.
This took her to the Cloister (as it was called at that time) in Gallup, New Mexico among the Navajo Indians. In 1978, with four members of other contemplative groups in the U.S., Sister Marion participated in an East-West dialogue on prayer and spirituality in an ashram in India, a profound spiritual experience for her.
Sister Marion returned happily to Asia in 1993, doing language study in Bangkok and attending a Buddhist/Christian Dialogue meeting sponsored by the Federation of Asian Bishops Conference. She joined the Maryknoll Contemplative Community in Udon Thani, present to guests, travelers and pilgrims. They also shared in significant events integral to the Udon Diocese, becoming more acquainted with different parishes and personnel, and reached out when difficulties touched neighbors and friends. With insufficient numbers to staff four places, the Contemplative Sisters reluctantly withdrew for a time from Thailand, hoping to return at a later date. Sister Marion returned to the NY Contemplative Community.
Returning to Thailand in 2003, Sister Marion and another Sister were welcomed to express mission in Santi Wana (Peaceful Forest) ashram, a project of both the Ursuline Sisters and the Thailand Jesuits. The Santi Wana Community desires to grow as members of the Global Community which transcends all boundaries, creating a culture of peace with all creation; deepening integration of contemplation and mission. It maintains a simple way of life that is sustainable and life producing, and incorporates the qualities of Buddhist culture and heritage—restraint, simplicity, loving kindness, compassion, patience, non-violence, generosity. The daily Eucharist together is a time of sacred sharing of the Scriptures and the community’s experience. Sister Marion is also part of the broader Maryknoll community in South Asia.
In 2012, Sister Marion returned to the Contemplative Community.