Partners in Mission: From the Bronx to Maryknoll

A fter 34 years as an editor at Maryknoll magazine, Margaret Gaughan recently retired. “It has been a blessing to work at Maryknoll, where sharing faith is the reason for being,” says Marge, as she is known to her colleagues.

The eldest of the four daughters and two sons of Agnes and James Gaughan, Marge says faith was the bedrock of her family as she grew up in the Bronx, New York. She attended her parish elementary school, St. Frances de Chantal, and nearby Preston High School, both staffed by the Sisters of the Divine Compassion. “I was attracted to their charism,” Marge says. She joined the community in 1966.

With a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s in religious studies, Marge taught English in middle school and later served as a parish director of religious education. In 1981 she left her religious community and got a job in New York City as a proofreader and copy editor for business publications. But she began to miss ministry. 

Providentially, in 1985 Marge attended the first Mass of a neighbor who was ordained a Maryknoll priest. At the festivities in the family’s backyard, Marge met several Maryknollers and staff members of Maryknoll magazine, including then Managing Editor Frank Maurovich. “I told Frank that Maryknoll magazine had inspired me from the time I was a child reading my grandmother’s copy,” says Marge. “I even considered being a Maryknoll sister but was afraid of remote places with wild animals and snakes!” 

Maurovich said the magazine had no openings but to send her resume. Three years later, he invited her to join the Maryknoll magazine team. Her long partnership with Maryknoll began. 

She started as a proofreader and copy editor and soon was also doing interviews and writing stories. “I will always be grateful to Frank for having confidence in me and helping me grow as an editor,” she says. 

“My main job,” Marge explains, “was to help missioners tell their stories by making the stories more accessible to the reader.” That meant clarifying ambiguities, checking facts and bringing out hidden details that would make the story more interesting. “It’s like straightening pictures on a wall,” Marge says. “If the picture is crooked or upside down, the viewer can’t fully enjoy its beauty.”

Marge’s skill at “straightening pictures” helped Maryknoll magazine to win numerous awards over the years. And, working at Maryknoll went from being a job to a calling. 

Marge says her life was enriched by the stories of Maryknoll missioners. “I was touched by how much they loved the people they worked with overseas,” she says. 

She got a taste of overseas mission on a reporting trip in 2001. “I was in El Salvador on September 11 interviewing survivors of two severe earthquakes when terrorists attacked the Twin Towers in New York just 40 minutes from my home,” Marge recalls. She was impressed that in the midst of their own suffering the Salvadoran people expressed deep solidarity with the people of the United States.

Editing each issue of Maryknoll for over three decades, from her desk in Ossining, New York, Marge became acquainted with Maryknoll mission sites all over the world. Her zeal for mission — and remarkable gift for names and dates — made her a veritable repository of Maryknoll narratives. 

“Marge is quite simply one of the best editors I have ever known,” says Lynn F. Monahan, Maryknoll magazine’s editor-in-chief. “It has been an inspiration to work with her.” He notes that Marge earned recognition not only from her colleagues at Maryknoll, but nationally, being honored in 2017 as Editor of the Year by the then Catholic Press Association, which cited her mastery at “refocusing and rewriting stories to make so-so articles good and make good articles great.”

In retirement, she continues to offer daily Mass and prayer for Maryknoll missions.

Marge says, “God’s hand has always guided me at every crossroads. I look forward to the next direction.” 

Maryknoll Brother John Blazo is a mission promoter in the United States.

Featured image: Marge Gaughan and Maryknoll Father John Moran (right), shown with Maryknoll Father Raymond Finch, receive the Father Thomas F. Price Partnership in Mission Awards in 2019 for exemplifying the Maryknoll spirit of mission. (Diane Mastrogiulio/U.S.)

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John Blazo, M.M