Giving thanks for our women leaders - Maryknoll Lay Missioners
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Maryknoll lay missioner Melissa Altman helps women earn a living at a women’s cooperative in Zaragoza, El Salvador.

Statement by Maryknoll Lay Missioners in celebration of women on International Women’s Day, March 8

As we join in celebrations of International Women’s Day, March 8, and the corresponding kickoff of International Women’s Month, we are reminded of the remarkable, inspiring, and self-sacrificing women we have within our own organization, and with whom we work around the world!

We pause to give great thanks to the many women who have helped make Maryknoll Lay Missioners who we are today—countless lay missioners who have served with us and those who have served on our leadership teams over the past 45 years, the women who have shared mission life with us, and the many women who have served on our behalf as Maryknoll Lay Missioners staff.

The women with whom we work in our ministries around the world inspire us, often quietly, and give our ministries the foundation and strength on which they stand. We are mindful of and grateful for these many unsung heroines throughout our regions and our world.

Many of these women are so memorable that it is easy to call to mind vivid pictures of them and their inspiring work, be they heads of a partner group, participants in local education and support groups for the most marginalized among us, community leaders who give hope and love to those in greatest need, those who clean offices and prepare food for our group activities, just to name a few.

Though we are part of a church and society that continue to fall short in recognizing and affirming all the gifts of women, many of our lay missioners work tirelessly on education, women’s empowerment and true gender equality.

This week and this month we lift up the women of our world, our families, and our work places. We all know many women who have been victims of abuse, trafficking, unfair wages and other travesties, based solely on gender. May we—as individuals, as an organization and as a church—continue to commit ourselves to women’s equality, dignity, and educational opportunity.

Please join us in holding all women in prayer throughout this month.

Ted Miles and Marj Humphrey
Executive Director and Director of Missions

Here are a few more examples of lay missioners whom we celebrate during International Women’s Month:

Working together with the Musoma, Tanzania, diocese, veteran Maryknoll lay missioner Liz Mach has helped the local church to combat gender-based violence, in particular the widespread practice of female genital mutilation, child marriage and domestic violence. She has also helped to promote girls’ education.


In João Pessoa, Maryknoll lay missioner teaches shantala massage to a group of mothers. She also facilitates support circles and leadership training on mental and physical health and human rights and teaches yoga and meditation to women in periphery communities.


Anne Berry serves as the physician at her rural Catholic hospital’s Reproductive and Children’s Health Clinic and participates in its Cervical Cancer Prevention Program. She advocates for women’s health and preventive medicine.


In the northern Haitian town of Gros-Morne, Abby Belt promotes girls’ education and leadership development through the Mercy Beyond Borders scholars program. The program offers high school scholarships, safe lodging, and leadership training.

Maryknoll Lay Missioners
Compelled by faith to engage with people across cultures and ethnicities, Maryknoll lay missioners live, love and work with communities on the margins to promote active nonviolence and healing.