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Sister Mary Kirkhoff, M.D.

Sister Mary is one of 600 Medical Mission Sisters and 80 Associates in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

Born and raised in Chicago, Sister Mary graduated from Loretto Englewood High School and Clarke College in Dubuque, Iowa, where she received a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology. She joined our Community in 1964, and earned her Medical Degree from St. Louis University School of Medicine. She completed her Family Practice residency at McNeal Memorial Hospital in Berwyn, Illinois.

In 1976, Sister Mary went to Ghana for three months of surgery experience in Africa, then spent three years as a staff doctor and medical officer at Nangina Hospital in Kenya. She ministered among Cambodian refugees on the Thailand border before repatriating to the U.S. in 1980.

Sister Mary completed a residency program at St. Vincent’s Health Center in Erie, PA, then worked for five years at Stewart-Webster County Hospital in rural Richland, Georgia. She returned to our North American Headquarters in 1986, and served as our property manager. In 1989, she began ministry with the U.S. Indian Health Service. She recalls, “There began my experience of Native American culture with the Sioux…a people who belong to a great extended family, who are very hospitable.”

Sister Mary returned to our Philadelphia headquarters for several years, to manage the care of our ill elderly Sisters. She then began working with underserved persons at the Community Medical and Dental Center in Rahns, PA, a small rural town about an hour from Philadelphia. She and Sister Carol Huss offered an Education and Healing Program that was integrated with the primary health care offered by this non-profit center.

““Mission for me means making the reign of God visible in the world around me by being a tangible presence of Christ the Healer,” Sister Mary explains. In 1999, when she and Sister Carol decided to move to McNeal, Arizona, she became the family practice doctor at the Chincahua Health Center, then immersed herself in the ecological dimension of health and healing.

Living just 15 miles from the Mexican border, Sister Mary’s current involvement is with a small business revolving fund that helps people find work so they can stay in Mexico with their families. She is on the Steering Committee of our Justice Co-Mission group.

February 15, 2012