Current Ministry Location-Maryknoll Sisters Center
Sister Marlene Condon hails from Montevideo, Minnesota. After receiving her nursing diploma from the College of St. Catherine, St. Paul, MN, she entered Maryknoll in 1955. She was assigned to Queen of the World Hospital, Kansas City, MO in 1958 where she worked as Nursing Supervisor. This inter-racial hospital was opened by the Maryknoll Sisters prior to the Civil Rights Act.
In 1960, she was assigned to Chile and after Spanish language study and a revalidation of her nursing title at the Catholic University of Chile. she spent almost thirty years in public health community nursing and health education in three different parts of the country. Her work included, attending well baby clinics; home visits to families at risk for health reasons; rehabilitation of alcoholics; supervising student nurses; collaboration with health education in public schools. In 1975, she earned the title of Pediatric Nurse Practitioner from the Mayo School of Health Education and her B.S. in Nursing from the University of New York in 1984. Besides her commitments in the field of health, Sister Marlene was also involved in the formation of small Christian communities, facilitating formation, organization and skills among the poor. Her multi-task ministry laid the foundation for continuation of the communities and health work into the future.
At the Thirteenth General Assembly of the Maryknoll Sisters in 1990, Sister Marlene was elected Vice President of the Congregation. Her talents in the field of health and community building served her well as she traveled around the world on pastoral visits.
After serving six years in congregational leadership, Sister Marlene happily accepted an assignment to Guatemala in 1997. For nine years she worked in an AIDS project called “Projecto Vida” (Project Life).This program began through the National Episcopal Conference as a response of the Catholic Church in Guatemala to the growing incidence of AIDS in the country. Sisters Dee Smith and Jean Yamashiro and many Guatemalans and other collaborators began the project in 1994. Proyecto Vida has expanded over the years with a variety of services being offered: Education in Prevention of AIDS; laboratory services with pre and post test counseling, a nutrition program and community based care with home visits to assess and care for the people in the hospital HIV clinic. This integrated project of prevention involves people with HIV as part of the educational process giving talks and hearing their testimonies. Sister Dee Smith is the general Coordinator of the Project.
As a result of this experience of working with people living with HIV, the need for special care for the dying was recognized and after receiving a donation of land, St. Mary’s Hospice was built and opened on May 1, 2006, and Sister Marlene was the acting Director. Its original objective has changed with the experience of 2007, and now the majority of the patients come after serious illnesses for recuperation, good nutrition, education, and have the opportunity to learn how to live with the disease. This change is possible due to the access to the special antiretroviral medicines which provide the possibility of strengthening their immune systems and living a more normal life. So the need is more to care for people seriously affected by HIV rather than only during the dying process.
One of the unexpected results of opening the Hospice is that the local parish does monthly food collections, the communities come to visit and pray with the patients as do people from the surrounding parishes. Three local schools have adopted the Hospice and come in groups to visit and learn a bit more about HIV prevention.
Sister Marlene says a source of inspiration is the team she works with in the Hospice and the struggle the patients have in confronting HIV. The nurses are from a local program, but all the support staff are trained in the Hospice and are HIV positive. This latter group is very helpful in doing informal counseling with the patients, giving hope for the future and helpful education from their own experience.
In 2017, Sister Marlene returned to the Maryknoll Sisters Center.