Sister Mary Moriarty, MM

Born: June 27, 1925
Entered: September 6, 1951
Died: April 5, 2016

On April 5, 2016, just as the Feast of the Annunciation came to a close, Sr. Mary Moriarty died gently and quietly at the Maryknoll Sisters Center. Several Sisters were with her as she entered into her new life.

Mary Theresa Moriarty was born on June 27, 1925 in Westfield, Massachusetts to Margaret Maloney Moriarty and John Joseph Moriarty. She had one brother, John Moriarty. After graduating in 1941 from Sr. Mary’s High School in Westfield, Mary attended Bennett Secretarial School in the evenings and worked for ten years in Springfield, Massachusetts at Baldwin-Duckworth Belt Company as a professional secretary.

On September 6, 1951, Mary entered Maryknoll in New York. At her First Vows on March 7, 1954 at Maryknoll, she received the name Sr. Paul Mary. Later she returned to her Baptismal name. Her Final Vows were made in Tanzania on March 7, 1960.

After her First Vows Mary worked in the Maryknoll Treasury until she received her assignment to Tanganyika, now Tanzania, in 1958. She spent her first year at Marian College in Morogoro teaching religion and serving as bursar. She then was assigned to the Musoma Diocese in 1960 where she remained until she left Tanzania in 2008.

In 1960 Mary was assigned to Rosana mission. She first studied the language of the local tribe, the Wakuria. She then engaged in pastoral work especially with the women and children. She wrote to Mother Colman: “You’d love Rosana, everything about it – the people, the climate, the view from the escarpment, even the school ‘band’ which enlivens siesta time.”

Then in 1965, Mary moved to Makoko village, outside Musoma town. Makoko is the location of the Language School and the Maryknoll Society Offices. She did pastoral work and began some work with youth and she soon began working with the Diocese and with the Maryknoll Society. Mary was secretary to Bishop John Rudin, M.M. and the Diocesan treasurer. She then became secretary to the first African Bishop of Musoma, Bishop Anthony Mayala. Bishop Mayala wrote to Sr. Melinda Roper, then president of the Maryknoll sisters, telling of all the wonderful work Mary did for him and the diocese saying, “She is indispensable to me.” In addition, for some years, Mary continued her work as the Sisters’ treasurer.

Many Sisters were assigned to Tanzania in the 1960s; and room had to be made for them in Makoko. Mary and two other Sisters moved into Musoma town to Mwimbeni on the Cathedral Grounds. They lived on the top floor of a building and began a youth program on the ground floor with games and study. Here, Mary became involved in basketball and boxing – as a big supporter of both. The basketball court at Mwimbeni even held the national basketball game and one year Mary was honored as “the biggest basketball supporter in the country.”

Mwimbeni was later needed for a secondary school, so the Sisters moved elsewhere.

Mary’s home form now until she left Tanzania was Kennedy Street, Musoma. With the help of the Bishop and the Regional Commissioner, Mary was given a two acre plot in the town for a youth Center. Matumaini Katika Vijana, (Hope in the Youth). It was the only youth center in the town, and it grew and developed yearly. Open daily to all with no fees, there were always 200 people and sometimes over 300, almost endless indoor and outdoor activities: field games, board games, reading rooms, computer, guitar and English classes, a library, women’s craft, and day care center. Weekly on Friday, people with Hansen’s disease and others came for help. After Mary finished her other work, she went in late afternoon to the Youth Center to watch, listen, and enjoy. The Center provided a wonderful service to all ages but especially for the youth. The Sisters often visited and enjoyed everything but weren’t sure about one activity – boxing! Mary’s response: “But we use only light gloves.”

Helping the physically challenged was another of Mary’s many activities. With a fund she provided hand-pedaled bicycles to many who had always crawled on their hands and knees. She even got the bicycles transported free from Shinyanga region to Musoma on Coca-Cola trucks.

At the request of Bishop Mayala, Mary was awarded the Pope’s Cross “Pro Ecclesia,” at the Golden Anniversary of the Musoma Diocese. This is the highest papal award given to women. The Bishop wrote to her saying: “The Diocese of Musoma appreciates your significant contribution in the diocese through your witness as a religious and through your dedicated services to the diocese.”

In 2008, after 50 years in Tanzania, health needs necessitated Mary’s return to maryknoll where she became a member of the Eden Community. Her prayer ministry was for all deceased Maryknollers. She continued to be of service whenever she could and for as long as she could, pushing Sisters in wheelchairs to Chapel and dining room, offering help, and always grateful for any service done for her. We are grateful to the staff of MSHC for their loving care of Mary. They said that caring for her was a pleasure and they loved her. Mary ended her life as she had always live it: very generous, kind, thoughtful and grateful.

We warmly welcome Mary’s two nieces Patty and Mary who join us in remembering and celebrating the life of our Sister Mary, and we thank our brother Fr. Mike Snyder, M.M. who will celebrate the Mass of Resurrection.