Sister Marie Louise Meyer, MM
Born: October 9, 1895
Entered: May 24, 1926
Died: May 10, 1992
We are gathered to celebrate the life and death of our Sister Marie Louise Meyer, age 96, who died suddenly, but peacefully, at 1:10 P.M. in our Maryknoll Nursing Home on Sunday, May 10, 1992, the feast of the Good Shepherd and Mother’s Day. Sister had been a resident of the Nursing Home for eight years. Wake services were held yesterday in our Nursing Home and in the Center Chapel. Today we are happy to welcome Father Ed Manning, M.M. as our celebrant for our Mass of the Resurrection as well as several family members.
Marie Louise Meyer was born on October 9, 1895 in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. Her parents were Alex Meyer, formerly of France, and Elizabeth Gross Meyer, formerly of Detroit, Michigan. Marie Louise was one of five children: three boys, Alex, Percy and Gerald, and two girls, Florence and herself. She grew up and attended school in Windsor. After graduating from the Windsor Collegiate Institute in 1913, she went on to take a six-month business course in the Detroit Business University. She worked in the Peoples’ State Bank in Detroit for many years before she entered Maryknoll.
Marie Louise entered Maryknoll 66 years ago on May 24, 1926 at the age of 31; and as Sister Mary Canisius, was professed October 28, 1928. During Novitiate days, her group remembers her as generous and good natured. She told Sister Theresa Killoran, her good friend, that she became interested in Maryknoll through the Field Afar which literally flew out of the mail which was tossed on a nearby desk at the bank where she was working. God’s ways are not without their own touch of humor! She received a Teacher’s Certificate at Catholic University, Washington, D.C. in 1930, and teaching was to be her major mission apostolate. Her Final Vows were made on October 28, 1931 in Honolulu under Bishop Alencastre. Sister was assigned to the Territory of Hawaii the year before in 1930, eleven years before it became a diocese, and remained there teaching for 37 years. Her first 12 years were on Oahu at Maryknoll in Punahou; St. Anne’s Kaneohe; and St. Anthony’s Kalihi near Pearl Harbor where she was when it was bombed in WW II. Sister was then assigned to St. Anthony’s Wailuku, Maui for 25 years. It was there she became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1946, and celebrated her Silver Jubilee in 1953. Sister Imelda Marie Salzback, who was with her, recalls her saying often, “Maui no ka oe”, (Maui none better). Sister had hoped, on entering Maryknoll, to go to the Far East, but fully adopted Hawaii and made her contribution as an outstanding teacher. The students she taught were of every cultural group represented in the Far East, many of their parents being immigrants or refugees themselves. Also, Sister attended many meetings of the Asian Conference of High School Students, and met students and teachers from Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan and Korea, fulfilling in another way her first mission dream.
Sister Louise returned to Maryknoll Center in 1967 and worked in the Mission Education Secretariat; Mission Research Library and Rogers Library. She retired eventually, but still did some work in Direct Mail. She also celebrated her Golden Jubilee with her group here at the Center in 1976 and again in Windsor, Ontario at the Holy Name of Mary Church. Celebration days were important to her and she recorded in her notes events of her own life and those of her family.
She was admitted to the Nursing Home in March 1984 where she remained until her death.
While we think of Sister Louise as cheerful and smiling, she had a serious side also. Among her prayers was an old handwritten quote from Eugene Debs:
“While there is a lower class, I am in it;
While there is a criminal element, I am of it;
While there is a soul in prison, I am not free.”
What a deeply spiritual expression of solidarity with the unfortunate of this world whom she constantly remembered.
Let us rejoice that Sister Louise is at last with her Risen Lord and her dear ones – family, friends, and Maryknollers and can continue her mission to help others in a new and better way.