Monday, August 26, 2013

Former nun who has inspired generations of Appalachian volunteers is retiring

Marie Cirillo and Gary Garrett on a low-
water ford that floods and collects debris.
(Photo by Georgiana Vines) 
Marie Cirillo, who came to Central Appalachia 46 years ago to educate and train people in an isolated community in the mounatins on the Kentucky-Tennessee border, after deciding she couldn't do it as a Catholic nun in the Midwest, is retiring as director of the Clearfork Community Institute.

Cirillo, 82, has been an inspiration to generations of others who have come to the region to help it overcome its isolation, exploitation and lack of education and sustainable jobs. “After so many years of so much effort there is little to show but lots learned. The big question is, will the lessons we learned together be to any avail? People here anticipate result if for no other reason but that so many more people in this region are searching for ways out of past progress that now seems to be riddled with traps we can’t avoid,” she told Georgiana Vines of the Knoxville News-Sentinel.

"She still intends to be a force in helping the community speak for itself on issues," Vines writes, quoting her: “I need to help them learn they have a voice.” She will be succeeded by Marie Webster, 52, an AmeriCorps worker amd Institute board chair, who will be paid with a $14,000 grant from the Knoxville office of the Green Mountain Coffee Roaster Foundation; Cirillo, a former Glenmary nun, took no salary. (Read more)

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