Sister Martha Bourne

Sister Martha Bourne

Current Ministry Location: Maryknoll Sisters Center-Maryknoll, NY

Sister Martha, entered Maryknoll in Valley Park, MO on October 18th, 1960, from St. Michael’s Parish, Charlestown, IN.  Before entering, she received her B.S. in Education from Nazareth College in Nazareth, KY.

After her First Profession of Vows on June 24th, 1963, Sister Martha worked in the Center at the Local Secretary’s Office.  Then Sister Martha was assigned to Chicago’s Chinatown to teach at St. Theresa’s Primary School from 1964 – 1967.

Sister Martha’s first foreign assignment was to South China in 1967, where she started with language study at Hong Kong University.  Afterwards, she was assigned to the Maryknoll Sisters School at Blue Pool Road in Hong Kong.  There she taught Religion, Geography, Math and English Literature from 1968 – 1972.

Sister Martha then moved to the Kwun Tong Resettlement Area in Kowloon, and taught English grammar in Grades 4 and 6 at Our Lady of China Primary School from 1972 – 1977.

In 1978, Sister Martha returned to the Maryknoll Sisters Center in NY and was manager of the Maryknoll Sisters Communication and Public Relations Office from 1979 – 1984.

Sister Martha returned to Hong Kong in 1984, where she served as editor and lay-out artist with Union Catholic Agencies News (UCAN) for 5 years.

From 1989 – 1994, Sister Martha worked with the Norwegian Missionary Society (NMS) with Vietnamese asylum seekers in various detention centers in remote areas of Hong Kong.  Sister Martha’s work was under the auspices of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and in cooperation with voluntary international government and religious agencies.  The group provided the Vietnamese with services such as English classes for children and adults, games and entertainment for children.  They also prepared celebrations for their holidays, birthdays, weddings and birth of babies.  During that time, she visited the families and listened to their stories.  “While we were Christians, we were not allowed to do direct evangelization,” Sister Martha said, “but let our lives speak to the people of God’s love for both them and us, especially when they asked why we were helping them.”

In 1994, Sister Martha returned to the Maryknoll Sisters Center in NY and served in the Mission Archives Department for nine years.  In 2004, she was appointed Coordinator of Government Benefit Programs for the Congregation’s Treasury Department.  After 15 years she retired and resides at the Maryknoll Sisters Center serving as a volunteer driving medical trips and editing for the Communication Department.