Sunday, January 3, 2010

Sister Jean Maloney, Maryknoller, at 80

Maryknoll Sister Jean Maloney was written up in the Peace Weekly, acknowledging her many years of work for the marginalized in Korean Society. Those who know Sister have called her the Korean Mother Theresa.

She entered the Maryknoll Sisters Congregation in 1950; after her first vows came to Korea in 1953, and worked as a nurse in the Maryknoll Hospital in Pusan. This was a very difficult time, she worked on the language in the morning and worked until late at night as a hospital nurse. The hospital was taking care of over 2000 patients every day; because of the devastation from the Korean War, many needed food and were afflicted with many contagious diseases such as tuberculosis.

Sister said: "It was very difficult, for we couldn't care for all that came and when we had to send them away and they did not come back the next morning, I was deeply troubled that they possibly had died because of our lack of care for them."

From Pusan she went to start a new clinic in Jeung Pyeong , Chung Puk Do, and after 3 years returned to Pusan. In 1963 until 1974 she worked in Kyeong Ki Do, Kang Hwa island, where she established Christ the King Clinic and was the administrator and director. At that time she not only worked in the hospital but in the parish and with workers.

It was during this time in Kang Hwa that the textile factory,1968 incident, developed: the girls who were members of the YCW (Young Christian Workers) were fired for starting a union. This incident was the first in which the Church was involved and was the start of future involvement in the problems of laborers in our society.

It was her involvement with the workers and experiencing their difficulty that made her decide to go to Seoul and work with the workers in an area where they were living. During this time she worked assisting AMOR ( Asia, Oceania Meeting of Religious). They planned an exposure trip to a 'red light ' district where they heard the stories of these women and were greatly moved. It was another change in the life of Sister Jean. " I had thought that I had nothing to do with these women but after hearing their stories I couldn't get rid of the idea that I was a hypocrite. I cried for many days after and wanted to go and live with them."

Sister Jean started counseling many of these women and with the help of another woman decided to start Magdalena House, a place of rest for those who were involved in the selling of sex. She remained in that work for 13 years, helping these women escape their life of prostitution, giving them hope and a feeling of self worth. She lived with them, ate with them, and cried and laughed with them.

Sister has now been given another work by the Maryknoll Congregation; she will accomplish this work as she has done all the others, with a heart full of thanks to God for allowing her to continue her work in Korea. On this Feast of the Epiphany may she be blessed with many more years in being a light and service to others.

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