Mulherin, Mary Gabriella
MULHERIN, MARY GABRIELLA
Maryknoll Sister, missionary to Korea, co-founder of the Korean Credit Union in 1960, b. Scranton, Penn., 1900; d. Maryknoll, N.Y., 1993. Worked as a legal secretary for several years after high school. After she heard Maryknoll co-founder, Thomas F. price, preach, she decided to enter the maryknoll sisters in 1923, and was sent as a missionary to Korea. Between 1926 and 1941, Mulherin directed the Industry Department in Yeung Yu, was later was a language teacher in the same city, and served in several other towns, including the capital of Korea, Pyongyang. When World War II erupted, she returned to the United States to work as the secretary for the Maryknoll Superior General, Bishop James Edward walsh. She returned to a war-torn and divided Korea in 1952, chagrined at the plight of the people. As part of the reconstruction of the social agencies of the country, Mulherin and Maryknoll Father George M. Carroll founded the Korean Association of Voluntary Associations in order to coordinate the many volunteer groups which had arisen after the Korean conflict. Because the war left many widows who did not have a source of income, Mulherin organized art and craft schools to teach them and other young women, who were without sources of income, how to lead economically independent lives.
In 1960, amidst a student revolution and the collapse of the Syngman Rhee government, Mulherin inaugurated a leadership training program for thirty workers, as the foundation for a voluntary Credit Union Movement. On May 1, 1960, twenty-eight members formed the first union on the Maryknoll Sisters' compound in Pusan. The movement was based on the principles Mulherin learned in Nova Scotia under the tutelage of Monsignor Moses M. Coady. The leadership training of the Antigonish Movement was based on democratic values and developed trust and self-responsibility among the members. After the first year as the director of the Credit Union, Mulherin turned over the leadership to two Korean leaders. When the Korean government honored her in 1988, the organization numbered 1.3 million members. She retired in 1967 and returned to Maryknoll, N.Y., where she continued her interest in the unions through conversations with visiting Koreans until her death in 1993.
Bibliography: sr. g. mulherin, Brief History of the Maryknoll Sisters in North Korea, October, 1924 to October, 1950 (Maryknoll, NY 1959), typescript. sr. g. mulherin, "The Role of Korean Woman in Christian Development," in Fourth Apostolic Workshop on Social Justice (Maryknoll, NY 1967).