Preparing for mission - Maryknoll Lay Missioners
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Theresa Glaser (left) and her fellow “classmates” in Orientation, T.T. Hoang and Sarah Bueter, listen to a presentation by Maryknoll Sister Claudette LaVerdiere.

Dear friends and family,

As you know, I am currently participating in the orientation and formation program for this year’s group of new Maryknoll Lay Missioners. I am writing this first letter to you as an invitation to join with us in our mission. I would like to share with you a little about what motivates me, what I am expecting to do and to accomplish, and the changes I am hoping to effect.

Sharing a meal with the MKLM’s executive director, Elvira Ramirez.

Quite simply, what motivates me to go as a Maryknoll lay missioner to work in Kenya for three and a half years is the love Jesus expressed for the poor and vulnerable of the world. While the United States, of course, also has many people experiencing poverty, the level of poverty that I witnessed in my year as a Catholic Relief Services volunteer in the Gambia, West Africa, and during the month I spent in Uganda, was stunning.

Those experiences placed in my heart a call to return to Africa and spend the next few years — possibly the last years of my good health and energy — in direct service to the world’s poorest.

Why Maryknoll? My first reason: Maryknoll was willing to take on an old lady!

Since I have been in Orientation here in El Paso, Texas, I have been learning so much about what is at the heart of Maryknoll. Its original name in 1911 was “The Catholic Foreign Mission Society,” and it is now a family made up of priests, brothers, sisters, lay missioners and affiliates.

Our sessions here have been rigorous, filled with information and discussion. I have been listening and participating with the watchful eye of a dedicated Catholic and lover of the Gospels. I feel that I am in the right place to live out the call of my faith.

What will I be doing in service to the poor? I will be working in Kitale, a small city in western Kenya, where Maryknoll has had a long-standing partnership with the Diocese of Kitale. I will be assigned to the St. John Bosco Rehabilitation Centre, a ministry of the diocese that admits street children, children from impoverished communities, those who are orphaned and other vulnerable children.

The children live at the center during the week and return to parents or a guardian on the weekend. The goal of the center’s work is to prepare the student for entry into the formal education system of Kenya.

Since after third grade, all formal school in Kenya is taught in English, it will be my job to teach the language to these children, who have had no exposure to the language.

Click here or the button below for a 2012 video about the center that features fellow Maryknoll lay missioner Russ Brine, who still supports the center, providing administrative oversight.

The entrance to the St. John Bosco Rehabilitation Centre in Kitale, Kenya.

On a spiritual level, what I hope to accomplish is to be changed, stretched and challenged by the lives of the people with whom I interact. I have learned from my first round as a CRS volunteer that you don’t come away from the experience without being given as much as you may be giving.

So here is my gentle “ask”: Maryknoll Lay Missioners depends on individual donors to help fund the many expenses connected with training, sending and sustaining missioners in their various ministries. As my friends and family, I am asking you to join me in my mission journey in Kenya by helping meet my (and our) support needs.

Regardless of whether you choose to do this, I count on your prayers and moral support. I plan to send you regular (quarterly) reports or updates. Maryknoll Lay Missioners will also send some of you additional e-newsletters and appeals. If you would prefer to be taken off those lists but want to continue to receive my updates, please be sure to use the “Update profile” rather than the “Unsubscribe” option at the bottom of any e-newsletters.

You can donate to support my work by clicking the button below. In the first year of mission, donations are used to cover the living and training costs, i.e., the “sustenance” of the missioner. In subsequent years, donations will be split between the sustenance and specific needs in my particular ministry in Kitale.

Thank you so much for your interest and support. Please pray for me and for the children and staff at the St. John Bosco Centre in Kitale, where I will be working.

Yours in mission,

P.S. I look forward to hearing from you. You can email me with the button below.

The Orientation program for the “Class of 2023” of new Maryknoll lay missioners will conclude with a Sending Ceremony during a Mass with Bishop Mark Seitz of El Paso, Texas, on Saturday, Dec. 2 at 10 a.m. (Mountain Time; i.e., noon Eastern). If you are able, please join us that day by watching the livestream of the celebration on Maryknoll Lay Missioners’ Facebook page (more details to come).


Theresa Glaser
Theresa Glaser joined Maryknoll Lay Missioners in 2023. She is serving in Kitale, Kenya.