Sister Mary Tracy
Current Ministry Location-
1982, Columbia University, NYC, Bachelor of Science-Nursing
First mission assignment:
1960-1965, Congregational Services, MK Srs. Clerical, Center-Secretary, Post Office
Mary Tracy was born December 6, 1939 in Evergreen Park, IL to Chestera Tracy and Valentine Tracy. She had 3 sisters: Patricia, Joyce and Stella, and 1 brother: Raymond. Mary graduated from Mt. Assisi Academy High School, Lemont, IL in 1957.
Mary entered the Maryknoll Sisters December 31, 1957 at the novitiate in Valley Park, MO. She professed First Vows August 22, 1960 at Valley Park and Final Vows August 22, 1966 at the Center in NY. She spent her first years at the Center as a secretary and also worked at the U.S. Postal Service office at Maryknoll. After receiving her B.A. degree in community service in 1970 From Rogers College, Maryknoll, NY, Sister Mary was assigned to Chile that same year.
Arriving in Chile, she worked in the southern sector of Santiago in a población called La Bandera. This was undeveloped farmland that was taken over by a large group of homeless families. She worked in a program of alphabetization and did some community organizing until the September 11, 1973, military coup put an end to her work. After taking a practical nursing course at the local public hospital, she worked in several public health clinics in the area and assisted social workers at a refugee center.
Receiving her Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from Columbia University, NYC in 1982, Sister Mary responded to an appeal from Church World Services for nurses to volunteer for a three-month period in the understaffed hospitals of West Beirut, a predominantly Muslim sector of the city. Her emergency hospital was located in a parking garage under a 12-story apartment building.
Sister Mary remembers holding a flashlight between her teeth while she changed dressings. “It’s been a great opportunity to meet and work with the Palestinian and Lebanese patients and staff as well as the international staff of volunteers—a wonderful group of people.”
In 1983 when Sister Mary returned to Chile and a población in Santiago named El Castillo, the military government had already decided on a policy of eradication of slums in many parts of the capital. That policy, along with terrible flooding in another part of the city, sent some 50,000 people to El Castillo, where there were no jobs, no schools, no paved roads, no buses, no clinics, and no electricity. Gradually, electricity and buses were put in, and people went to work in other parts of the city.
In the course of the next 13 years, the Sisters worked with families as they set up soup kitchens. At one point, 2,000 people were eating one main meal a day in 13 different soup kitchens. They also had programs of intensive organic gardening, solar fruit dehydration and a knitting cooperative, and collaborated with other groups in health care and community services, including a day care program for indigent elderly persons.
Returning to the Center in 1996, Sister worked for two years as the assistant director of nursing at the Maryknoll Residential Care Center, primarily serving in assisted living
Back in Chile in 1999, Sister Mary worked in a program offering assistance to the indigent elderly in their homes. She also set up a parish group aimed at visiting the sick in their homes.
At the end of 2000, she returned to the United States to care for her own mother at the family home. “This was a privileged time and I was with her until her death in May of 2005.”
Back in Chile in 2006, Sister Mary was part of another parish program, visiting the homebound sick and elderly and residents of a nursing home that housed indigent patients. She was also one of the parish Eucharistic Ministers to bring Communion to these same people.
Sister Mary was assigned to the Eastern United States Region in November of 2011. She is located in Summit Argo, IL where she taught ESL to Polish-speaking religious women during several years, while also assisting an elderly relative and visiting a few homebound parishioners. The Polish Congregation has since moved out of the parish.