Maryknoll Lay Missioners Celebrates Four Decades of Humanitarian Efforts

- Susan Nagele, MD, 31-years in mission and American Medical Association Medal of Valor recipient, travels from Kenya to New York to deliver keynote address for anniversary event -

Jul 31, 2015, 14:39 ET from Maryknoll Lay Missioners

OSSINING, N.Y., July 31, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Maryknoll Lay Missioners (MKLM) will celebrate its 40th Anniversary on August 8th, 2015 and host a related event in New York to highlight the experience of mission. More than 700 Catholics have joined the organization's ranks as lay missioners throughout its 40-year history, including single men and women, married couples and families. They represent a wide variety of professions and experiences, but share in common a motivation that compels them to leave behind the stability of their life in the U.S. in order to serve those in need. They cross borders deliberately, seeking to grow their understanding of the "other" and represent Jesus' love and compassion to all they meet.

Today, members of Maryknoll Lay Missioners work in Latin America, Africa and Asia to provide aid and social services where the need is greatest. MKLM's ministries strengthen communities, restore health, enable learning, resolve conflicts, tend brokenness and much more. Examples of current Maryknoll Lay Missioners include:

  • Dr. Susan Nagele has aided approximately 40,000 refugees who were displaced due to violence in South Sudan and Kenya throughout her 31 years in mission. Among other responsibilities, she now counsels and trains healthcare workers in Kenya on palliative care for chronic diseases that can become terminal, such as cancer and HIV/AIDS.
  • Peter and Melissa Altman understand the suffering and violence that many Salvadoran people experience. Their family, which includes two young children, resides in the community where they operate programs for children, visit the sick, distribute food to those in need and work with young adults who are striving to stay in school to better their futures.
  • Kathy Bond and Kim Fischer promote awareness and provide training through restorative justice workshops for prison inmates in San Paulo, Brazil, where incarceration rates have exploded in the past ten years. These programs promote themes such as government resources to assist re-entry following incarceration, situations of violence concerning women, restorative justice vs. punitive justice and prisoner rights.
  • In Tanzania, Michael Leen teaches microenterprise business skills to single mothers with the goal of these women attaining economic emancipation and rising out of poverty.
  • Bill Velicky, a certified prosthesis-maker who has served in global mission more than 15 years with MKLM, is overseeing a project in Bolivia to provide custom-made wheelchairs to children and adults, by training local people with disabilities in the craft of wheelchair production. Bolivia is a country with no history of wheelchair production.

Sam Stanton, MKLM Executive Director, reflects, "Maryknoll Lay Missioners live out their values every day, choosing to serve those on the outskirts of society rather than comfortably staying in a successful career or setting. It is their passion for service, mission and community that will enable a future for continued overseas lay mission outreach."

Maryknoll Lay Missioners profess the belief that "through baptism, we are all called to mission," which means sharing the joy of the Gospel with everyone. Pope Francis echoes this in his "Evangelii Gaudium," saying, "…we can move forward, boldly take the initiative, go out to others, seek those who have fallen away, stand at the crossroads and welcome the outcast."

Members of MKLM stand for justice, peace and fullness of life. Through their outreach and service efforts, the organization's lay missioners seek to change unjust structures and promote forgiveness. They assist those living in extreme poverty, victims of human trafficking, persons falsely imprisoned and those affected by war. They offer their compassion and skills through more than 100 ministries which encompass healthcare, education, microenterprise, restorative justice and faith formation.

"Not all can go to the mission fields," acknowledges Sam Stanton, "Maryknoll Lay Missioners is privileged to act as a bridge linking us to other cultures, while strengthening the call to mission for the U.S. Catholic church and beyond."

About Maryknoll Lay Missioners (MKLM)
Maryknoll Lay Missioners was initiated in 1975 to recognize and celebrate lay people (non-religious) as active participants to global mission. The organization, which became independent in 1995, emerged from the Maryknoll tradition that was started more than 100 years ago.

Through MKLM's 40-year history, more than 700 single people, married couples and families in the U.S. Catholic Church have served in mission in some of the world's poorest communities. Inspired by the mission of Jesus, Maryknoll Lay Missioners live and work with poor communities in Africa, Asia and the Americas, responding to basic needs and helping to create a more just and compassionate world. Learn more online at and  

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