“The Guatemala Refugee Camp in Campeche, Mexico was the best of all my assignments for I felt so much a part of their life.”
Sister Mary Malherek was born and raised in rural Minnesota. Having graduated from Good Counsel High School in Mankato, MN, Mary entered the Mayknoll Sisters Congregation in 1951. She earned her B.E. in Education from Maryknoll Teachers College, Maryknoll, NY in 1957. Her first assignment was to teach at St. Anthony of Padua School in the Bronx, NY from 1957-1961.
Sister Mary was assigned in 1962 to Puebla, Mexico where she taught English and Religion in the Jesuit Primary School. She then went to Marida, Yucatan, Mexico to the Colegio Peninsular, Rogers Hall from 1963 to 1968 where she taught Religion and English from First to Ninth Grades. In 1968, Sister returned to the U.S. where she did Promotion work for the Maryknoll Sisters until 1970. This was followed by studies at St. Catherine’s College in St. Paul, MN where she earned her BA in Nursing in 1973. She was then assigned to work with a rural health promoters’ program in Jacaltenango, Huehuetenango, Guatemala from 1973 to 1982.
From 1982 to 1984 Sister again did Promotion work out of Chicago, IL. At this time she became involved with the Chicago Religious Task Force on Central America and then with the Sanctuary Movement, translating for the refugees as they spoke in welcoming churches. This was followed by a period of fulltime work with the Sanctuary Movement from 1985 to 1986. From there she went, in the Fall of 1986, to the Guatemalan Refugee Camp in Campeche, Mexico, living and working closely with the refugees who had fled from Guatemala.
Sister Mary worked in the same camps as the Mexican Refugee Organization and the United Nations High Commission on Refugees until the Fall of 1992. From 1993-1995 she served as Admissions person in the Maryknoll Language Institute in Cochabamba, Bolivia, as well as Coordinator of the Maryknoll Sisters Center House, Casa Rosario, in that same city. In 1995 Sister returned to Mexico to the outskirts of Oaxaca, Colonia Azucenas of San Martin Mexicapan, where she was involved in the formation of Basic Christian Communities as well as in the promotion of women and children. In 2006, after turning over their mission in Oaxaca to the local people, Sister Mary returned to the U.S. In California she volunteered in the distribution of food for needy families, shared centering prayer in a prison ministry.pastoral ministry with the sick and elderly and earth care. In January, 2011, she moved to the Maryknoll Sisters retirement community in Monrovia, CA, where she is working on a history of the Maryknoll Sisters’ work in Mexico.