Sister Mary Ellen Mertens

“The irrestible, magnetic-like attraction that drew me to join Maryknoll many years ago has never diminished or changed. Following its pull, I have been given the chance over and over again to see a wide variety of lovely and enchanting faces of God in people of other cultures.

memertens_lgA native of Springfield, Ohio Sister Mary Ellen (Molly) entered Maryknoll on October 18, 1962 at Valley Park, Missouri. Her first assignment was to Hong Kong, where she worked in catechetics and  formation of Christian Community at Star of the Sea Parish in Chai Wan, from 1968-1972.

Sister Molly earned a B.S. in Sociology in 1973 from Mundelein College, Chicago. 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 Communications at Maryknoll Sisters Center in Ossining, NY, through 1988, returning to Hong Kong in 1989, where she did pastoral work until 1993. Sister Molly completed her Master’s degree in pastoral studies at Loyola University, Chicago in 1995. Sister Molly began work with Chinese immigrants and Immigration and Naturalization Service detainees in Los Angeles, which she continued for the next six years.

In 2001, Sister Molly was appointed co-director of Orientation for Maryknoll Sisters in Chicago, a position she held through 2005. She is currently working in parish ministry in Taiwan, making regular visits to the Taichung Women’s Prison with a group of volunteers and assisting at the Samaritan Center for Homeless Women, offering outreach to women who for various reasons have no place to go, and are sleeping in parks and abandoned buildings around the city.

Of her work at the Samaritan Center, Sister Molly says, “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, moving 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.”