Sister who worked in Wilcox County dead at 81

Published 10:45 pm Saturday, September 6, 2008

Sister Mary Maloy, S.S.J., a former resident of Selma who served in Pine Apple from 1982 to 2000, died Tues., Aug. 26.

She was 81-years-old and had been a Sister of Saint Joseph of Rochester, N.Y., for almost 64 years.

“Sister Mary was one of our pioneers,” recalled Rev. Roger La charite, former director of the Selma-based Edmudite Missions. “When she first started working in the Pine Apple area, there was no convent, no learning center, no community center, no thrift store. For the first couple of years, she commuted from Selma to Pine Apple every day. Over the 18 years of her ministry, she played a large part in bringing all these things into existence.”

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Mary Maloy was born September 26, 1926, the only child of Vincent and Anne Malloy of Rochester, N.Y. After joining the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Rochester in 1944, she earned a bachelor’s in English and Latin at Nazareth College in 1948 and a master’s in Latin from Notre Dame University in 1958. She also won certification from New York as a counselor.

Most of her early years as a nun were spent teaching as serving as a counselor at Nazareth Academy and Saint Agnes High School in Rochester.

In 1982, she came to the South for the first time to serve as an outreach worker for the Pine Apple Health Center. In this capacity, she visited isolated shut-ins in east Wilcox County, bringing them medicine and driving them to the clinic when necessary.

“My task is to help people help themselves,” Maloy once said.

She was very active with the Wilcox Rural Action Committee (WRAC) and its efforts to bring running water to all the residents of east Wilcox. In 1989, she had the satisfaction of seeing a Kellogg Foundation grant extend running water to 150 county homes that had previously lacked it.

Later, Maloy was able to found “Partners in Progress,” a group dedicated to improving the Pine Apple area with such facilities as a cafe and a thrift store. When she retired in 2000, Baptist minister Brown O’Quinn hailed her as “an instrument of God.” The snack shop she founded was renamed “Mary’s Food and Fashion” in her honor.

Even in her last years, Maloy continued to work as a volunteer at the community center in Rochester.

Her funeral was held Fri., Aug.28., and she was laid to rest in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Rochester on Sat., Aug. 29. She is survived by a number of cousins and her spiritual sisters in the Sisters of Saint Joseph.

The Sisters of Saint Joseph first joined the Edmundite Missions in 1940, when they came south to establish a convent in Selma. The Missions were established in 1937 by the priests and brothers of the Society of St. Edmund, a Catholic religious order based in Vermont.

Both the Edmundites and the Sisters of Saint Joseph were responding to an appeal by Pope Pius XI for American religious orders to reach out to the African Americans of the Deep South. Since then the Missions have become a “Rainbow Apostolate,” serving the poor of every race, creed and social background.