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The Missionary Life of Sr. Maria Claesen

After 44 years of missionary life in Guatemala, Maria has marked the hearts of many people in Nueva Santa Rosa, Santa Rosa; in Rio Blanco, San Marcos; and the village of El Durazno of Chinautla,  a  marginalized area of Guatemala City, and also the hearts of her ICM co-sisters. 

Maria arrived in Guatemala in january 1969 first by ship and then by plane from Belgium.  She shared her talents (as she was a primary school teacher) in the different formation programs in the parish of Christ the King in Nueva Santa Rosa in the rural area and also the social pastoral for 26 years.

Coincidently, there were two Marias in Nueva Santa Rosa, and to know which one the people wanted to talk to when they knocked on the door, they would ask for “Maria who sings” or for “Maria who cures” (Maria Claesen and Maria Geerts).

Upon the closure the ICM community of Nueva Santa Rosa in 1995, after 31 years of icm presence, maria chose to go to another rural area:  Rio Blanco, San Marcos, where she served from 1997 to 2005, in charge of the parish for lack of priests.  And it was in that year of 2005 that maria was elected district superior for the second time.  Thus, Maria left Rio Blanco to go and live in the district house in zone 12 of Guatemala city for four years.

Her last mission in Guatemala was in the village of El Durazno in the municipality  of Chinautla in the outskirts of Guatemala city together with Marleen and Evie.  However, due to health reasons maria decided herself to return to Belgium but with a broken heart for having to leave her dear mission-land of Guatemala.  It had been a life filled with pleasant remembrances  of all the people with whom she worked and shared together and also the hardships during the difficult years of the internal armed conflict that affected many congregations. On june 20, 2013,  Maria  flew to Belgium accompanied by Marleen.

All of us who have known Maria have seen and felt her immense love and gift of self to the people of Guatemala.

God’s mission in her continues now in Belgium with other people, other challenges, all within her own possibilities now.


“we will never forget you, maria.  We will  miss  you tremendously, but we know that this is God’s best for you now in this stage of your life”.  Always, Evie

Sr. Marie Claire Algoet ICM sisters in Senegal Sr. Maria Houthoofd
Lieve Silver Jubilee Asi Comenzo ICM Guatemala
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