Marilyn Kott

Year Joined MKLM: 2015
Country: Brazil
City: São Paulo
Focus: Scripture & Liturgy, Pastoral Support, Education, Food & Temporary Shelter
Project(s):
Prison Ministry – Religious Support, Personal Encouragement, English as a Second Language, Restorative Justice fundamentals
Homeless Ministry – Food and temporary shelter, community environment for the homeless
People Served: Incarcerated and Homeless Men and Women

Project Goal(s):

  • Share scripture and the liturgy
  • Facilitate reception of the sacraments
  • Build self-confidence and self-esteem
  • Strengthen belief in the dignity and worth of each person, and the desire to raise each other up
  • Build missionary disciples

Current Ministry:

Marilyn works with Pastoral Carcerária, the organization formed by the Brazilian Bishops to provide the presence of Christ and His Church in the world of the prisons. She, her husband Jim, and their colleagues serve people in difficult, sometimes dire, circumstances. Marilyn shares, “We’re not just trying to help physically; we seek the personal encounter, too. We find Christ there, and He finds us.” She serves regularly in five of São Paulo’s penitentiaries, along with other Maryknoll Lay Missioners, local volunteers, and religious women and men. On weekends, she visits, prays and leads liturgical celebrations.

During the week, she teaches English, and assists in a Restorative Justice class. Marilyn also lends a hand at Community of Welcome, a neighborhood parish project serving the homeless community with breakfast, showers and community. The prison environment there is difficult, to say the least, and the men’s prisons are especially overcrowded. Marilyn helps to change the environment there. The pavilions are much calmer after her visits, and the atmosphere is less aggressive. She believes, “Our goal, for the few hours that are available to us every week, is to provide a reminder to the incarcerated men and women that they aren’t forgotten, that people outside care about them as human beings, and children of God.”

Personal Data:

Marilyn, a retired U.S. Air Force officer, grew up in a close-knit, military family. As a child, she lived in various locations with her father (an RF-4 pilot), her mother (a teacher and dedicated volunteer), and her sister and brother. She graduated from high school on Okinawa, Japan, and then from the US Air Force Academy in Colorado. Earning her pilot wings at Laughlin AFB, Texas, in 1986, she served in several locations in the US and across the world.  Marilyn met Jim, a fellow Air Force officer, while serving in Germany, and they married in 1991. In 2011, she retired from active duty and accompanied Jim to his new assignment in Kosovo. While there, she volunteered with several NGOs, and led a team of local authors as they published a book about Catholicism in Kosovo. After Jim retired in 2014, their travels included walking the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, during which time they were called and invited to serve with MKLM.

In her spare time, Marilyn enjoys fitness activities, audio books, visiting churches, and learning about new cultures. “Having moved every few years of my whole life, I’ve been a part of many different parishes. The result is that I never feel out of place in a Catholic church. Wherever I am, the Church is my home.”

“Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up…”
Saint Paul, in his 1st letter to the Thessalonians, 5:11