After teaching for nine years in both Queens and Brooklyn and volunteering in a shelter for the homeless, Sister Mary Mullady entered the Maryknoll Sisters in 1993 from Flushing, Queens, New York.
She was assigned to Guatemala in 1996 and worked in the parish of Jesús Nipalakin, located about one hour outside of Guatemala City, where the Kaqchikel indigenous people had made their home for a very long time. Ladinos arrived later from different parts of the country. One of the main thrusts of the parish was to create an experience of church as community. In both the colonias and the villages, water was a severe problem as well as transportation to the city.
Sister Mary was known on the parish team as the person who consistently reached out to the poorest in the parish, and accompanied them. She worked with the children in the villages, helping them with homework, tutoring them so that they could progress in school, keeping their interest using games she taught. She also accompanied a group of women in Scripture reflection, helped plan fiestas and joined in the attempts to improve the water situation. Sister Mary’s Final Vows were made in this parish and her parents were able to come from New York for the lively and happy celebration prepared by the parish community.
Assigned to El Salvador in 2002, Sister Mary crossed the border into El Salvador by bus, arriving just before Christmas. She began working in a Fe y Alegría (Faith and Joy) School in Soyapongo and volunteered in the library. Fe y Alegría was founded in 1969 by Joaquin López y López, SJ (one of the Jesuits martyred in 1989) along with a group of women. The objective was to create different centers of education in the marginated areas of El Salvador. The library received donations of books from Mexico and Spain that Sister Mary and another volunteer catalogued and covered. Borrowing a book from a library was a new experience the children had to learn.
In October 2007, Sister Mary was assigned to one of the world’s newest countries to gain its independence, East Timor. Its independence from Indonesia came in 1999 after a period of war, which resulted in damage to 80 percent of the country’s buildings according to one report. The parish where the Maryknoll Sisters work was not exempt from this violence. After orientation to the country, Sister Mary studied the Tetum language before an assignment teaching English in the rebuilt Catholic senior high school in Aileu, East Timor.