For Maria, about World Malaria Day

buttonMy friend Maria Fenty was in love with the people of Sudan. More than once she trekked there to encourage and serve people in the ravaged south, loving those whose lives were on the line daily. She told me that she hoped to go live there to serve the women and children struggling to survive, whose faith she found contagious, vibrant and thriving.

It was her nature to serve – her ‘real job’ was substance abuse counselor and she loved showing people the light at the end of the tunnel. It was no surprise to any who knew her that she discerned God’s call to serve the church as an ordained deacon, received the necessary training and was ordained just days before she led a team to Sudan in February 2002.

While in Sudan, Deacon Maria contracted malaria unbeknownst to her. She became ill after returning home and died of complications of the disease. It was shattering to face the loss, the cost of mission, the unthinkable loss of a friend to a disease so foreign to our homeland.  (photo at right shows her parents receiving condolences from Bishop Dan Herzog upon the establishment of the Maria Fenty fund for Sudan)

If she had recovered from malaria and could speak to us today, I am 100% certain she would tell us about how vulnerable the people, especially the children, of Sudan and other poor countries are to malaria, and how infection can be so cheaply prevented today. Because she was the sort of person to look hardship in the face and find hope, she would be passionate about learning from her experience and working toward making sure no one else suffered needlessly.

Please investigate the links below, and do what you can to help solve a problem that needlessly puts so many of the world’s poorest at risk.

Nothing But Nets –

Roll Back Malaria –

Malaria Consortium –

Gifts may also be made to the Maria Fenty Fund, which makes grants for initiatives in Sudan, by sending donations so marked by mail to the Episcopal Diocese of Albany, 68 S. Swan St., Albany, NY, 12210.

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7 Responses to “For Maria, about World Malaria Day”

  1. gavin
    April 25, 2008 at 11:57 am #

    i don’t know how many nets our family has bought over the year, but today i added two more. once i consult the wife we might do some more then.

  2. Susan Olszewski
    April 26, 2008 at 12:09 am #

    I don’t even know how to begin to describe the effect that Maria had on my husband Peter and I, but she did drag him to the Sudan with him in 2002, so that will give you an idea! And to this day, I sign every e mail with her signature ” In His Peace”, which I started to do shortly after we said goodbye to her much too soon, as my way of keeping her memory alive and well.
    Maria had an impact on so many people in her 33 years that few people have achieved, (can you think of anyone else?) and those of us who were lucky enough to have known her will never forget her enthusiastic love for Christ, or the way she packed one dress for every day she was in the Sudan so she could leave them there for people who needed them. She was truly gift from God. We miss you, Maria!

  3. Colette Odell
    April 26, 2008 at 2:46 am #

    Maria was a friend of mine. We met through Church Women United, here in Clifton Park, a group Maria had been involved with since childhood, in Endicott, NY. At the time, I was in charge of a World Day of Prayer Celebration, held at St. George’s, here in Clifton Park, and Maria was the volunteer from All Saints, her church in Round Lake. Maria had a broken foot, at the time, and was to be an usher for the service. Not thinking about the foot, I had rehearsed how the ushers would take up the collection and distribute various things, as well as what the readers, artists, and musicians would do. When we got home, my boys told me that I had been “mean to Maria,” and then I realized that I had made the evening difficult for someone, who was then, and I later found out, always, too gracious to complain.

    Maria had an infectious love for the Lord which showed in her singing, her words, and her smile. I certainly miss her.


  4. Peter Minucci
    April 27, 2008 at 3:28 pm #

    Patty…..Maria worked for me at the Counseling Service in a church-based satellite in Arbor hill. She was working for us at the time of her death. She was a good counselor and did a great job at interfacing with the community. If you desire I would be glad to add to the wonderful things that are stated on the website…..Peter Minucci, Ex. Director, Episcopal Counseling Service.

  5. Patti Gibbons
    April 27, 2008 at 7:20 pm #

    Thank you all for your comments. Maria was indeed an wonderful friend to many, and a blessing to many, many more. Please, if this is a place any one feels comfortable sharing memories of her, go ahead. If you’d rather visit and read, as a great many have done, that is welcome as well. I know it was a wonderful way for me to remember my friend.

  6. Rene Otero
    December 7, 2013 at 10:43 pm #

    Maria was a loving, vibrant and wonderful person who was so giving to the clients of Carver Community Counseling Services. Maria’s spirituality, knowledge, and skills helped so many clients to heal themselves of addiction; I am very disappointed that upon looking up Carver’s website that there is no information about her there. I know this because I was also a counselor at Carver. God Bless You Maria; your spirit lives on…

    • patti
      December 7, 2013 at 11:11 pm #

      Thank you for commenting, Rene. Maria is still remembered lovingly by many, including you and me. Proud to have known her and shared a passion for walking through life with people who needed a friend.

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