Sister Maria Colabella, Maryknoll Sister for 40 Years, Dies

Maryknoll, NY: Sister Maria Colabella died on March 19th, 2019 at the Maryknoll Sisters Center in Maryknoll, NY.  She was 78 years old and had been a Maryknoll Sister for 40 years.

Maria was born on May 9th, 1940 in Brooklyn, NY to Emelia (Luongo) Colabella and Pasquale Colabella. She had two sisters, Sister Jaqueline Marie, SSND and Geraldine De Luca. Her parents and sisters have all predeceased her.

In 1957, Maria graduated from St. Brendan’s Diocesan High School in Brooklyn, NY. After graduating, she attended Long Island College Hospital School of Nursing in NY where she earned an R.N. diploma in 1960.  She then continued her education and attended St. John’s University in Queens, NY where she earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing in 1964.

From 1965-1967, Maria worked with the Catholic Medical Mission Board in Ado-Ekiti, Nigeria as a Nursing Instructor and Supervisor at Maria Assumpta Hospital. In 1968, she joined the Papal Volunteers for Latin America (volunteer Catholic lay missionaries committed to pastoral and social work in Latin America for short-term service).  In preparation for a new assignment, she attended the Catholic University of Puerto Rico for three months to learn Spanish.  Maria was then assigned as Nursing Instructor at the Universidad Santa Maria in Arequipa, Peru for four years. She also worked as a public health nurse and pastoral worker in Chimbote, Peru in association with the Dominican Sisters from Columbus, Ohio for two years.

On September 2nd 1978, Maria entered the Maryknoll Sisters Novitiate in Maryknoll, NY. She made her First Profession of Vows on June 28th, 1980 and her Final Vows on May 22nd, 1988. She graduated from the Maryknoll Seminary with a Master of Arts Degree in Theology (Religious Studies) on May 27th, 1988.

In 1981, Sister Maria received her first mission assignment to Ocotal, Nicaragua where she worked in healthcare and did pastoral work in basic Ecclesial Communities.  From 1982-1983, she gave Congregational Service at the Maryknoll Sisters Center, NY in the Nursing Home, Center Health Unit and in the Communications Department.  In February of 1983, Sister Maria applied for Family Ministry to be near her ill father.  During this time, she also worked at Transfiguration Parish in Brooklyn, NY, working in health programs, counseling for Salvadoran refugees and Hispanic teens.

In 1986, she returned to the Maryknoll Sisters Center, NY for health reasons and renewal (period of rest/relaxation at home for Maryknoll Sisters on mission) until 1988.

In 1989, Sister Maria returned to the Peru/Ecuador Region, however, her health issues necessitated her return to the Maryknoll Sisters Center, NY in 1990.

From 1991-2014, she began a ministry in the Brooklyn Diocese and the New York Archdiocese among multicultural communities, until she retired.

A Vespers Service will be held on Monday, March 25th, 2019 in the Chapel of the Annunciation at the Maryknoll Sisters Center, Maryknoll, NY.                                     

The Liturgy of Christian burial will be celebrated on Tuesday, March 26th, 2019 at 11:00 A.M., also in the Chapel of the Annunciation. Interment will follow at the Maryknoll Sisters Cemetery on the Maryknoll Center grounds.



May Appeal


You have made a difference in an area where people desperately want a better quality of life but are unable to get even basic health care.  Sister Jane Buellesbach, M.M. shares with you the story of Guadalupe, one of many children in Guatemala that grow up praying to survive and holding on to hope for the chance at a better life:

“Years ago, Guadalupe’s mother decided to participate in the Health Promoters program which we have been running for some years.  Guadalupe entered primary school in this rural village where she was taught in a classroom with two other grades (three in all).  She loved studying and finished primary school with no trouble. Secondary school was a different story.  The only thing available in her village was a radio school, which operated several hours a week.  Guadalupe did very well, although the preparation was far from adequate for any further studies.  Undaunted and inspired by her mother´s work in Health, she asked to go on and study professional nursing. Since she is one of five girls and her father only works as a farmer, there was no way her folks could afford such an expense.   Because of her mother´s faithful, voluntary service to her community, she asked about the possibility of a scholarship for Guadalupe.


Thanks to friends and donors we agreed to sponsor Guadalupe.  Once again she amazed us, overcoming insuperable obstacles.  She wanted to help pay for her studies so looked for work cleaning houses in the late afternoon, after attending classes until 2p.m.  Her evenings were spent studying.  She saved every penny and was able to pay her own tuition, the scholarship providing books, uniforms, transportation and room and board.  After her first year she was leading the class scholastically.

At the end of the year only 16 of the 160 students who started the course finished, and yes, you guessed it, Guadalupe was at the top.  She is now in her last year of study looking forward to graduation and being able to work to help her younger siblings study as well as help with family expenses.  She has a job offer after she graduates which is unheard of in this area.  She is truly an extraordinary and remarkable young woman!” – Sister Jane

Sister Jane has established programs to involve the Guatemalans in becoming self-sufficient in matters of personal hygiene, preventive medicine and the treatment of parasitic and contagious diseases.  A small medical team that traveled by horseback was developed to bring much-needed health care to people living in desperate poverty.  Local residents are trained as certified health promoters who perform various medical tasks.  The health volunteers are taught how to diagnose, treat, and prevent the most common diseases.  A scholarship fund was set up to help train the volunteers.

Sister Jane has seen what can be accomplished when we not only bring in support services but also train local residents to help themselves.  Together, we are making God’s love visible.



 Did you know 663 million people worldwide do not have access to clean drinking water? How are the Maryknoll Sisters helping?

Sister Len Montiel, M.M.  who is on mission in Cambodia, has changed  the lives of a family and an entire neighborhood by drilling a water well!

Sina is pictured below having lunch with Sister Len, she lost both parents to HIV/AIDS. The Maryknoll Sisters found her alone by her mother’s deathbed in a hospital in Phnom Penh, Cambodia years ago. Sina grew up in our foster home, but luckily we found her extended family about 3 years ago. Sina left our foster home to live with her aunts’ family.

Sina’s family contacted us one day in a panic because the main water source in their community dried up! We agreed to provide the neighborhood with a new well that they could use daily for water, as long as Sina’s family promised to make Sina continue her education.



Pictured above is Sina’s community using their new well. Your donations allow the Maryknoll Sisters to continue to make God’s love visible worldwide and help more families like Sina’s.


April web appeal 2017-direct mail web link

This Easter, we thank you for giving light to the darkness that surrounds the poor, the ailing and the marginalized around the world. You’re part of our mission work, and without you we could not continue to provide hope to the hopeless.

In Jao Pessoa, Brazil domestic and urban violence caused by drugs and many other things leaves the women here in fear of their lives. Sister Euphrasia (Efu) Nyaki, M.M. runs a holistic healing center to help these women escape the violence that surrounds them. The healing center is located in the midst of the community. Holistic healing helps the women who have lost family members and/or who have seen the children of other women being killed.  The post traumatic effects of such violent situations is extremely stressful on their nervous systems, our techniques focus on trauma healing.  Many health problems are associated with this type of stress, for example: nervousness, rapid heartbeat etc.  The center provides workshops and individual healing– without using any medication except for some herbal plants and teas.


Currently at our center, the women help others with healing, and at the end of the month we take out all the expenses for the center and the women volunteers divide what is left among themselves.  It comes out to a little less than the minimum salary in Brazil, which is about $200 per person.  They live very minimally on that amount, so we would like to improve the amount of salary we can give them.  The reason why the amount available to them for a salary is so small is because we are still paying for a loan that we took out to expand the center, so between that and expenses, we don’t have much more.

Sister Efu says, “I would like to tell our benefactors that we are really very grateful.  Benefactors do not go to mission.  We go.  But they are also part of this mission work by how they contribute.  And especially when they contribute to a particular area they know their money goes to that.  I’d like to affirm that we are partners.  We are right there in a practical, concrete sense, but they are there too, because without their means, we cannot be there.”

You can bring hope to so much fear. YOUR Easter gift today; will save someone’s life.


March appeal

Sister Mary Frances Kobets, M.M. focuses on Orphan Education and Agricultural Support for HIV/AIDS orphans and children at risk.  There are 85 orphans in education, over 100 in agriculture, and 90 in health/hygiene/nutrition.  To keep this all going is a desperate need and these orphans need your help…we need your help.

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Sr. Mary Frances states, “We provide the children with teaching, agriculture, health, hygiene and nutrition.It’s a form of outreach. What is it for this child that is going to help them go to school? Is that child being taught? We canvas for school fees and levies. But are they being taught so they can pass? So we set up tutoring, so that in English, science and math the children, whatever age they are, can get what they need in those subjects. These children were on the streets and now they are with their guardians. There are quite a few boys and girls in child headed families, meaning they have to take care of themselves. They’re going to have to plant, they’re going to have to harvest and eat, and anything they have extra they sell and bring some back to us so we can give it to the children who don’t have anything.”

photo 2 appeal
Sister Fran with one of the orphans in her program.

Education is very expensive and there is no consideration for the orphans, the cost is $5,000 per semester. They are charged the same as everyone else for uniforms, school fees and levies. If they can’t afford it, they can’t go to school.

Your donation today will help us provide HOPE to these orphans and others around the world. Thank you for helping us make Gods love visible worldwide.

Donate Today

Human Trafficking Prayer 17

A Prayer for those affected by Human Trafficking

Today, we ask you to join the Maryknoll Sisters at 10:30a.m. (EST) and take part in the national day of prayer for the victims and survivors of human trafficking. You can use the “Power Prayer” below.

Through prayer, we not only reflect on the experiences of those that have suffered through this disrespect to
human dignity, but also to comfort, strengthen, and help empower survivors.


Human Trafficking 2017

The Maryknoll Sisters have long been working to eliminate all forms of discrimination and violence against girls and women. At the present time, sexual exploitation and human trafficking of women and children in Southeast is an enormous problem.

The Cambodian Women’s Crisis Center, run by Sister Helene O’Sullivan, M.M. offers vocational training to trafficked women as well as survivors of rape and domestic violence. Each year, Sister Helene takes referrals from Church and anti-trafficking organizations to help identify and support 25 young women (16-25 years old) to begin her two year study program.

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Why Specialized Vocational Training is Needed?

In shelters, as part of recovery young women receive counseling, literacy training, legal aid, and reintegration assistance. Many of these young women have only received two years of elementary school education, therefore, literacy training in the shelter was not enough, they still lacked sufficient general knowledge and critical thinking skills that would enable them to go on for higher-level skilled training.
Sister Helene has found that helping these women create options for themselves was one of the most important things she could do to assist them saying, “Creating options together brings hope, and hope heralds the coming of the reign of God.”

At the present time, Sister Helene continues to network with different NGOs working to combat trafficking and promote advocacy.

Pictured below are a few of the young women whose lives were impacted by the women’s center.

With your help today, the center will be able to provide the following:

•Social, medical and psychological support

•Food supplements for the women’s families

•School supplies and uniform

•Room and board

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Help Rebuild Communities Devastated by Poverty, HIV/AIDS, Corruption and the Trauma of Genocide


Imagine the thought of losing both parents at a young age…
Sina lost both parents to HIV/AIDS. We found her alone by her mother’s deathbed in a hospital in Phnom Penh, Cambodia years ago. Sina grew up in our foster home. We found her extended family about 3 years ago. Her mother had been estranged from them due to HIV/AIDS.

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Sina left our foster home to be with her aunt’s family. The family is very poor so we continue to support Sina, including her education and living expenses. We also had a toilet built for the family as they had been using the forest. Today we are drilling a well as the neighborhood water source had dried up.

Sina is now in 8th grade. She is often asked to help her family work in the banana and cassava farms in lieu of school. We have asked the family to keep her in school as we continue to support her.

Your gift will help support Sina and many other orphans around the world!


Learning to Live While Earning a Living

A few years ago Los Mari, who is HIV positive, became a candidate for our Maryknoll program. She was a poor and homeless mother of four. Since then, the program has helped her purchase a houseboat which she just sold for a smaller, but newer one. She also has become a seamstress with the help of the program.

Los Mari and her husband are now able to make a living and support their three children. They have also been able to buy a piece of land on which to build a house. Sadly, Los Mari’s 13 year old daughter has since died from HIV.

Sister Len Montiel is the director of the Maryknoll HIV/AIDS Response Program in Cambodia. Sister Len says, “We consider the mental as well as the physical state of our clients. We help them move from being physically and mentally wounded to being happy, healthy people who believe they have a future. We work with them to build their inner strength and to learn to value themselves again.”

This program cares for more than 600 adults living with AIDS, as well as more than 700 orphans and vulnerable children in Phnom Penh annually. The program ensures that patients maintain good levels of health and social support, and that children receive food, education, medical and psychosocial support they need.

What can you do?

Donate now! Your gift will enable Missioners such as Sister Len to help the families and children affected by poverty, HIV/AIDS, and genocide.  Your gift is more than a donation; you will help the families of this community and many others in our Missions throughout the world.


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“I would like us all to make a serious commitment to respect and protect creation, to be attentive to every person, to counter the culture of waste and disposable, to promote a culture of solidarity and of encounter.”

— Pope Francis



From an Ecological Sanctuary in the Philippines to our computer lab in New York, Maryknoll Sisters care for our common home in many ways.


#timetorecyclethursday happens every day at the Maryknoll Sisters Center. Here Sister Margarita helps save a tree by recycling paper.


Sister Margarita helps change hearts and minds about caring for creation in the Philippines.


How can YOU help?

Reduce, reuse, recycle.

Preserve resources, use them more efficiently, moderate consumption of non-renewable resources. While not everything can be recycled, the majority of products and materials we use on a daily basis can be.

  • Find out where and how you can recycle almost anything in your area:
  • Raise money for your school or church by recycling empty ink/toner cartridges
  • Many supermarkets charity shops and retailers will gladly accept your cell phone for recycling.
  • Reduce waste by using recycled products, products that don’t have packaging at or or at least use recyclable package, and or by recycling material that can be recycled, including electronics.
  • Bring your own reusable cup or mug to the office or cafeteria (Styrofoam waste takes up 25 – 30% of America’s landfill space.)
  • Donate unwanted clothing and household items to a re-use center in your community.
  • Purchase products made from post-consumer recycled material to complete the recycling loop.
  • Recycling at home is easy. Separate your regular garbage from plastic, cans and glass.
  • Save a tree. Remember to recycle your newspapers.