Meet Sister Marilyn

Sister Marilyn currently works with community outreach and was formerly the Director of the food program here at St. Mary’s Center and has been working here for 22 wonderful years. I recently sat down with Sister Marilyn to speak about her years of service.

Claire Cooley: What brought you to St. Mary’s in the beginning?

Sr. Marilyn: I’ve always been drawn to ministry that works with those who have been marginalized. Fifteen years before I worked at St. Mary’s I was staff for a network of activists called Building Ministerial Community. After 15 years, Carol Johnson asked me who might replace the former Director of the food program. I told her that I believed it was time for me to work with my hands and help a new group of clients.

CC: What is your fondest memory here at St. Mary’s Center?

SM: I have enjoyed so many things during my time here. Some that stick out particularly are traveling to Sacramento with Hope and Justice to lobby at the capital. That is such an amazing group here at St. Mary’s. I have loved attending the Christmas parties with the clients. And more broadly, I have loved seeing the joy in people’s faces when we are able to help, maybe with a hot meal, housing, a Christmas present, or simply providing references for them if we can’t fulfill everything they need.

CC: What keeps you going during a hard day at St. Mary’s Center?

SM: Praying, reading. The commitment and help from the staff here. Unexpected connections with clients, and knowing that something good is going to come at the end.

CC: What has been the biggest challenge over the years here at St. Mary’s?

SM: The systemic injustice and witnessing the effects of poverty on people.

CC: What has been the biggest change you have seen whilst here at St. Mary’s?

SM: The expansion of programs, the winter shelter, and transitional houses were not around 20 years ago. Watching so many people’s lives changed for the better.

CC: Any last thoughts?

SM: I have so much gratitude in my heart for so many blessings, to myself and to so many other people. I feel God’s presence whenever clients tell me they feel blessed to have woken up this morning. I have learned so much over the years.


Claire is the 2016-17 XPLOR intern with our Resources for the Third Age program. During her time with us, she will be writing a regular blog on her experiences with St. Mary's Center including insights into our programming, interviews with clients, and more. To see all of her posts, check out our XPLOR tag

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