YEAR JOINED MKLM: 1981
COUNTRY: Venezuela, Mexico and United States
Mary left for Maryknoll from St. Patrick’s Parish in Spokane, WA. Mary received a Master of Social Work degree from UC Berkeley and a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies from Gonzaga University. She has also done graduate studies in Cross-Cultural Counseling at Columbia University and Theology/Justice at Maryknoll School of Theology. She provided counseling to low-income children, families and victims of crime in the Bay Area and teaching/supervising Master of Divinity students at the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University.
Mary and her husband, Steve Hicken, joined Maryknoll Lay Missioners in 1981 with their first son, Christopher (3 months old) and were sent to Nuevo Horizonte in Caracas, Venezuela, where she worked with youth. Mary and Steve served in Venezuela for 6 years, where their second and third sons, Joseph and Jonathan, were born.
In late 1987, they returned to the U.S. to assume leadership roles within the organization. In 1990, they were assigned to northern California, and Mary worked in Mission Education. In 1996, Mary was elected U.S. Area Coordinator and Maryknoll Lay Missioners Leadership Team Member. In 2003, she supported her husband’s Friends Across Borders Program and was a FAB guide in Kenya, as well as the West Coast Recruiter of new lay missioners. In California their fourth son, Joshua, was born.
In 2004, Steve, Mary and their two youngest sons, Jonathan and Josh, returned to Latin America – this time to Oaxaca, Mexico. Mary’s ministry was with PROSA, a Center of Indigenous Health Promotion and Healing Practices. She joined four indigenous women, one indigenous man, and two Medical Missionary Sisters on PROSA’s team. She helped train local women, building on their ancient wisdom and experience, to respond to their family and community health needs and illnesses.
Mary’s experience in Latin America, combined with her organizational and leadership skills made her a great addition to the Zapotec and Mixe healers’ team. Working with PROSA, combined with what her “commadres” in Venezuela taught her about herbal medicines; what the mentally ill in the Bay Area taught her about mental health; and what life and people of faith in the U.S., Latin America, Asia, and Africa have taught her about spirituality!
Mary is the Admission Manager at The Chaplaincy Institute, An Interfaith Seminary and Community. She brings a holistic, cross-cultural approach to ministry which is born out of growing up as one of nine children and a wife and mother of four sons.
Her most profound source of wisdom and knowledge has come from economically poor people and their lands in Latin America, East Africa, Asia and the US. As the Admissions Manager at ChI, Mary actively supports prospective students in their discernment process as they follow their spiritual and vocational path.