Sister Patricia (Pat) Maher

“Although ‘doing’ is necessary, I’ve come to realize that a sincere presence through listening, friendship, care and concern is perhaps more important.”

Born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Sister Patricia Maher entered Maryknoll in 1947. After earning her Bachelor of Education at Maryknoll Teachers College, she set out for the Philippines, where she taught for eight years at the high school high level, followed by five years as principal and head of teacher training.

Then, in the late 1960’s, Sister Pat returned to the U.S. to serve first as the Director of Community Roles at the Presbyterian University of Pennsylvania Medical Center and later as the Director of the Maryknoll Center Development Department.

In 1974, Sister Pat began her new mission to El Salvador, where, in addition to youth work with the Urban Leadership Training Center, she dedicated herself to extensive pastoral service among the poor. As she worked, however, Sister Pat quickly recognized the significant and dangerous nature of her mission. El Salvador’s current regime considered any gatherings highly suspicious, and this rendered human development work, even reading and writing instruction, difficult at best. Sister Pat found herself serving a people constantly terrorized by the American-backed government. In response to the desperate urgency for change, which was everywhere apparent, Sister Patricia worked fearlessly to bring the people’s terrible situation – and America’s responsibility – to light, on her return from El Salvador. Her words were punctuated by the shocking martyrdom of her Maryknoll replacement there in 1980.

Sister Pat spent the next twelve years working in the Harrisburg Diocese, serving its families and Spanish-speaking members. She then continued her missionary work for another twelve years in Bangledesh, Bolivia, and the Arlington Diocese, where she ministered to the Spanish-speaking population until her retirement in 2008 in Monorovia, California.  She is currently residing at the Maryknoll Sister Center.

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