“We came to Tanzania with God in our hearts and we found God here and in your communities of faith, hope and love.”
Sister Mary Reese, a nurse, worked for many years with Sister Rosalie Lacorte in a project in Tanzania to help children of AIDS patients, many of whom are orphans.
She was born in Wilmington, DE, and after obtaining her R.N. at St. Francis School of Nursing in Wilmington and served in the Army Nurse Corps during World War II, Sister Mary entered the Maryknoll Sisters Congregation in 1946. She earned her B.S. in Nursing from Catholic University in Washington, DC, and studied midwifery, becoming a certified midwife in Santa Fe, NM.
In 1953 Sister Mary was assigned to Kowak, Tanzania, where she worked in the local dispensary and the maternity unit. Later, she worked in Nassa and at the Government Hospital in Mwanza.
Sister Mary then went to Kenya, where she served at Kinango Hospital near Mombasa as a staff nurse. She returned to Tanzania in 1975 where she was involved in a national maternity and health program for five years. In 1980 she was assigned to the Cathedral Parish in Musoma, where she worked in pastoral ministry and with women’s groups, until 1995.
In 1995 Sister Mary became involved with the HIV/AIDS pandemic, which was showing signs of devastation in Musoma. She started the Youth Alive Center to respond to the young people, orphans, and vulnerable children, as well as people living and dying with AIDS. This center, renamed the Community Alive Center in 2008, remains very active to this day, providing more than 300 children with education essential for their future, as well as support to men and women who find at the Center ways they can cope and learn to live with hope.
After many loving farewells, Sister Mary returned to the U.S. in 2010, where she continues to be an active member of the Maryknoll Sisters Center Rogers Community in Ossining, NY.