Sister Mary Ellen (Molly) Mertens

Sister Mary Ellen (Molly) Mertens

Current Ministry Location – Maryknoll Sisters Center, Maryknoll, NY

Mary Ellen (Molly) Mertens was born November 13, 1942 in Springfield, OH to Florence (Cooney) Mertens and Clifton E. Mertens. She came from a large family with 5 sisters: Christine, Karen, Sara, Anne and Janet and 2 brothers, Alan and Daniel. Molly graduated from Catholic Central High School in Springfield in 1960.

Molly Mertens entered the Maryknoll Sisters Congregation on October 18, 1962 in the Sisters novitiate at Valley Park, Missouri. She pronounced First Vows June 24, 1965 at the Center and Final Vows May 30, 1971 in Hong Kong. Her first mission assignment was to Hong Kong, where Studied the Cantonese Language from 1965 – ’67 then worked in catechetics and formation of Christian Community at Star of the Sea Parish in Chai Wan, from 1966 -1972.

Returning to the Center in NY, Sister Molly earned a B.S. in Sociology in 1973 from Mundelein College, Chicago, IL.

She returned to Hong Kong, where she was a chaplain and adult mentor to the International Young Christian Workers Association in Kwun Tong until 1983.

Sister Molly worked as Manager of the Communications Office of the development Department at Maryknoll Sisters Center in Ossining, NY, 1983 -1988, returning to Hong Kong in 1989, where she did pastoral work until 1993. Sister Molly again in the US, completed her Master’s degree in pastoral studies at Loyola University, Chicago in 1995. She began work with Chinese immigrants and Immigration and Naturalization Service to detainees in Los Angeles.

In 2001, Sister Molly was appointed co-director of Orientation for new Maryknoll Sisters in Chicago, a position she held through 2005.

Returning to Asia she worked in parish ministry in Taiwan, from 2007 – 2014 and made regular visits to the Taichung Women’s Prison with a group of volunteers and assisted at the Samaritan Center for Homeless Women, offered outreach to women who for various reasons had no place to go, and slept in parks and abandoned buildings around the city.

Of her work at the Samaritan Center, Sister Molly said, “Interacting with these women has helped me to better understand how people on the margins of society struggle on a daily basis to find housing, food, employment and meaningful human relationships…Our efforts aim at helping them to help themselves: taking the first small but essential steps to build a new life, they moved forward with a sense of hope and determination.”

Speaking about her mission work, Sister Molly said, “The chance to share with others our common faith in the Gospel of Jesus and the power of His words, life, and ministry – that is what means the most to me.”

In 2013, Sister Molly was assigned to the Maryknoll Sisters Center in Maryknoll, NY to serve as Coordinator of the Sisters in the Nursing Facility. For five years she served as coordinator of pastoral care, working with a team of dedicated lay staff and Sisters

In 2018, she was assigned to the Maryknoll Sisters house in Monrovia, CA. There, she became involved in pastoral ministry three days per week at the Chinese Catholic Center in Los Angeles, CA.

When the  Covid-19 pandemic struck in  March, 2020 a general lockdown made it impossible to continue this ministry. However, she remained in virtual contact providing caring support to many elderly members of the parish.

In 2021, Sister Molly returned to the Maryknoll Sisters Center, in Maryknoll, NY. She is currently serving as a team member of the Maryknoll Mission Institute Educational Programs and learning new ways to continue her life-long commitment to cross cultural mission.