The Sisters of Mary are an independent, Christian humanitarian institution devoted to helping the poor in the third world. It was founded by Aloysius Schwartz. The Sisters have been operating their charitable programmes for more than fifty years in the poor communities of large and overcrowded cities.
The Sisters of Mary consist of more than 370 Sisters who operate their charitable programmes in the Philippines, South Korea, Mexico, Guatemala, Brazil, Honduras and Tanzania. In each country, the Sisters work to not only give children a safe roof over their heads, food, and education, but also to prepare them in their culture and environment for a better future in their own country.
In addition to taking care of more than 20,000 poor children each year, the Sisters also maintain homes, hospitals, schools and vocational training programmes.
Monsignor Aloysius Schwartz, a missionary priest who dedicated his life to helping poor children, founded the Sisters of Mary on August 15, 1964 to serve the poorest of the poor. The Sisters of Mary owe their name to the Banneux pilgrimage site in Belgium, where the mother of God is honoured as the benefactress of the poor. The motto of the Sisters is 'Let us serve the Lord with joy!'
The Sisters of Mary are recognized as a congregation by decree of the Catholic Church, and have the consideration of the Church as well as the State. They are headquartered in Biga, near Manila in the Philippines.
Sister Michaela took over from Father Schwartz in running the programmes in 1992 and from 2011 she was supported on a day to day basis by Sister Maria Cho. Sister Michaela passed away in March 2019. Sister Maria as Superior General directs the congregation as well as all the institutions they run.
Under the care of the Sisters of Mary, the children enjoy a value led education which provides a sound framework for the learning and development of capable and independent adults who, in turn, are able to support those in their local communities, extending the humanitarian objects of the Sisters' programmes.
The Sisters of Mary are an official religious order of more than 370 Sisters, who have dedicated their lives to helping poor children, by decree of the Catholic Church.
Sister Tess posing with a beautiful little girl named Rose, who was living in the Payatas garbage dump.
The director of the congregation, Sr. Maria Cho, was born on 11 November 1956 in the town of Kwang-Ju in South Korea. Her civilian name is Duck-Lim Cho. It is in this great rebellious city of the South-West of the peninsula (at the centre of the revolt against the military regime over thirty years ago), that she also went to school. After completing the Kwang-ju Women's High School in 1975, she worked as a cashier at the Central Bank. Six years later, she entered the congregation. She was initially responsible for the kindergarten in Pusan, and later placed in charge of the Boystown in Seoul.
In 1990, Father Al sent Sister Maria to Manila and entrusted her with responsibility for patients at the Q. I. Hospital. During the years that followed, she worked in the homes of Silang and Talisay. In 1999, she was given leadership of the finance department. Before being elected Superior General, she was in charge of Biga's Girlstown with 3,400 girls.
Sister Maria Cho succeeded Sr. Michaela Kim as head of the congregation and charity programmes.