Maryknoll refers to a family of U.S. based missionaries which includes three separate but distinct entities: the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, the Maryknoll Sisters of St. Dominic, and the Maryknoll Lay Missioners.
The Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, legally known as the “Catholic Foreign Mission Society of America” (Maryknoll) is the expression of the missionary spirit of the Church of the United States. Founded in 1911 by two diocesan priests and recognized by the Bishops of the United States Maryknoll is the concrete expression of the mission ad extra of the Church. Maryknoll priests and Brothers do not take religious vows. Instead, they take an oath of obedience to their superiors and to the Constitutions of the Society.
Additionally, American priests and Brothers from dioceses or other religious communities may become Maryknoll Society Associates by making a commitment to spend a minimum of three to five years in missions overseas.
In 1920, the Congregation of Maryknoll Sisters was recognized as a Diocesan Religious Congregation, “The Foreign Mission Sisters of St. Dominic.” They were the first U.S. women’s congregation founded specifically to pursue foreign mission work. In 1954, the group became a Pontifical Institute. The congregation’s name was changed to “Maryknoll Sisters of St. Dominic”, but they are generally known simply as Maryknoll Sisters. They make vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.
The Maryknoll family also includes the Maryknoll Mission Association of the Faithful, or Maryknoll Lay Missioners. This group provides opportunities for single people to serve the poor in Brazil, Bolivia, El Salvador, Kenya, Tanzania, and Cambodia.
The Maryknoll Affiliates are a group of people who identify with the vision, spirit and charism of the Maryknoll family. While remaining active in their work at home and in their local communities, they define the four pillars of Spirituality, Community, Global Vision and Action as the elements which bind them together. Some mission areas have active Maryknoll Afiliate groups.