Mill Valley Honors Two MaryKnoll Sisters

In a matter of a week or two, Paula Carvey managed to fill the Throckmorton Theater in Mill Valley, California to capacity for a fundraiser for the MaryKnoll Sisters World Wide Ministries.

Sisters Rosalie and Mary

Sisters Rosalie (left) and Mary

Prior to the interview with Sister Mary Reese and Sister Rosalie Lacorte, comedians Mark Pitta and Dana Carvey performed for about an hour and a half.

Both of the sisters are in their eighties. They spent a combined 87 years in Tanzania.

Trained as a nurse, Sister Mary Reese worked in the maternity unit and then with AIDS patients. She started the Youth Alive Center, which is now the Community Alive Center.

She says she misses Tanzania a lot!

Sister Rosalie Lacorte was born in the Philippines and taught there until she became a MaryKnoll Sister. She joined Sister Mary in Tanzania in 1982 and collaborated on the Community Alive Center with Sister Mary Reese.

Both women have outgoing personalities and love to serve humanity. There were two very funny stories that they told during the interview.

One of the stories was about how the people they served gave back to them. Many times, they were given chickens in gratitude for their many good deeds.

Sister Rosalie told how they killed the chickens and then boiled them. They drained the blood out of the chickens and added it to the soup! You had to be there to see how funny the story was.

She also told a story how she helped set up a cottage industry to make coffins! The way she told it was just an entertaining as Mark Pitta or Dana Carvey. They were for all the people dying from AIDS.

The work of the MaryKnoll Sisters spans the globe. We saw a slide show with many different sisters in many different places doing many different things. For example, there are MaryKnoll sisters serving in El Salvador, Ecuador, Indonesia, South Africa, and even Chicago. After all, the US was a “foreign country” for Sister Rosalie!

The most striking feature of the event came near the very end. Sister Rosalie said

When we came to Tanzania, we were needed by not wanted.
When we left Tanzania, we were wanted by not needed.

This is the essence of the selfless service the sisters performed over the years.

They turned all of their operations over to the people and not the resident priest. They were quite aware of what goes on with the priests! This brought another burst of serious laughter from the audience.

Before for the end of the interview Dana Carvey asked for questions. I asked, “What is the nature of your spiritual practices?” The answer was, “We attend mass!”

After the interview, there was a drawing for a $3,500 watch. The person who won the watch turned out to be Sister Mary’s niece. I learned yesterday that she gave the watch back so it could be auctioned off again!

I met both ladies during the reception after the event. They are as sweet as can be.

On Sunday, I helped Paula retrieve her flowers from the venue. We completed the task just in time to say goodbye to Sister Mary and Sister Rosalie. That was when I had the opportunity to take the picture. They were headed down the peninsula for two day and then back to New York.

I see these sisters and their whole order as bodhisattvas – beings who pass on full enlightenment in order to serve all beings. You may recall a recent post in which I quoted the Buddha:

Teach this triple truth to all: A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things which renew humanity. —Buddha

The MaryKnoll sisters are practicing the triple truth.

Please share what you are doing to renew yourself and to “renew humanity.”

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  1. rachel spencer says

    Did these two dear sisters tell these people about God’s gift of Salvation? Jesus died on the Cross for us, but we required to accept Him as our Personal Savior in order to go to Heaven, In order to do that we need to ask forgiveness for our sins and live the way Jesus tells us to live in the New Testament.

    • Rachel:

      When the nuns were being interviewed, I wondered what how much they tried to spread Christianity to the people the served.

      I never asked the question, but people have told me that service is their main purpose.

      Thanks for your comment,