Member Experiences

 

I think I am known for striking out into the deep on new experiences in ministering to the poor.

Sr. M. Ancilla Maloney

I was taught by the IHM Sisters for all 12 years of elementary and high school. As a freshman, I attended a Summer School of Catholic Action at Fordham University. One of the classes was on meditation. This class opened me up to the wonder and beauty of prayer at a deeper level than I had been aware of before and I began to practice this form of prayer pretty regularly. This gave God the opportunity to begin to speak to my heart.

During my sophomore year, my father became seriously ill. I promised God that if he lived I would not close off the thought of becoming a Sister. I did not promise I would become a Sister-only that I would leave myself open to God's voice.

I went to the College of New Rochelle after high school, enjoyed a busy round of college weekends, plenty of dates, and at the same time, an ever deepening desire to enter the IHM community-which I did at the end of my first year in college. I believe this year on my own, dating and going to various college campuses for weekends helped me to see that this was not the direction God was calling me to follow.

I have now been an IHM for 50 years, and passionately strike out into the deep on new experiences in ministering to the poor. I am a person for whom prayer and community come first and a witness to the values of the Gospel. I'd like to be remembered for my faith, teaching, and as someone who loved life and had tremendous compassion for the poor

I have always taught religious education classes in whatever parish I have been in. I have taught Bible school in the Appalachian mountain region for many summers, and organized a religious education program for migrant children in eastern North Carolina. I have taught high school for the past 41 years, always religion and also Social Studies. I not only have taught them, but have gotten them involved in volunteer projects for the poor or in social action projects to raise their awareness about the many justice issues that exist in their global village.

After I finished my Masters in European History from the University of Notre Dame, I volunteered with the Christian Appalachian Project in eastern Kentucky. There I worked with Sisters and young people from around the USA, ministering to the people of the region. I taught Bible school, visited the people, walking the country roads two by two, visiting their churches, praying with them. I spent many years visiting and getting to know and love the mountain people and the volunteers who joined me in working with them. 

I also worked for years at Camp Andrew Jackson teaching Bible school, arts and crafts and visiting the families.  For several years, I worked with a team of Sisters in North Carolina, teaching religion classes to children of the migrant families who worked in the fields in the area. We would go out to the camps, gather the children and teach.

While teaching in Delran New Jersey, I involved my students and other faculty members in a home renovation project called The Heart of Camden. Each Saturday morning some of the Sisters, a vanload of teenagers, and I would head for Camden where we renovated four houses for four families who otherwise would have had no home. During that time I took vanloads of students back to Kentucky for a service experience. We also did some volunteer work in a little school in Camden and brought the children up to Holy Cross for an annual field day on the school fields.

I am now teaching at Aquinas High School in the Bronx, NYC. Many of the students in Aquinas are of Hispanic backgrounds and are bi-lingual. For several years I took them with me so they could teach children who could not speak English. I gave them a wonderful opportunity to realize how gifted they were. Feeling proud of their culture, they shared their faith with these children.

I have become involved with Habitat for Humanity for a long time because of its tremendous faith-based spirit and the needed work they do. This spring 14 of the students joined me in a brush with Kindness project where we painted a community center in the city beautiful bright colors and cheerful designs. In honor of my mother who passed away last year at 100 years of age, I joined a Women Build Day where we worked on building the apartments in one of the Habitat projects. I spent three weeks a few years ago in Guatemala at a school where one of our Sisters was missioner and plan to spend the month of July this year with our Sisters in Peru.

I am most passionate about justice and teaching and I have been blessed to have been able to combine the two throughout my whole life as a Sister and as a teacher.

I am looking forward to doing some work with ESL-English as a Second Language, after certification classes this spring. I enjoy tutoring and involving my students in service projects. We do a midnight run program in the city, host Halloween, valentine pastries for children in a nearby residence for homeless mothers and their children and will be having an Easter Egg hunt for them right before Easter.

In my spare time, you can find me at home in my convent in east Harlem with my community of 6 other Sisters, visiting friends, reading. I recently met Jacqueline Novogratz, author of the Blue Sweater and founder of the Acumen Fund, which funds creative entrepreneurs in the developing world. I also read Greg Mortenson's Three Cups of tea and Nicholas Kristoff and Sheryl Wu's Half the Sky - both committed to raising awareness of women's issues. I have assigned these books to my Sociology students and they have been deeply touched by their stories.