Sister Beatrice Meyer, MM

Born: September 30, 1889
Entered: September 7, 1921
Died: October 25, 1973

On Thursday afternoon, October 25th, our Sister Mary Beatrice Meyer died at Grasslands Hospital in New York.

Sister Beatrice’s brother, Father Bernard Meyer, M.M., was one of the concelebrants at the Mass of the Resurrection at Bethany on Saturday, October 27th. He also gave the homily. The chapel at Bethany was crowded with both Maryknoll Fathers and Sisters, including Bishop James E. Walsh who had officiated at Sister’s renewal of her vows on February 2, 1925 in Hong Kong. It seemed that all nature joined in the celebration. The drive from Bethany to the cemetery at the Center was along roads lined with red and golden trees, washed in sunlight and rustling in the brisk wind against the background of a beautiful blue sky.

Sister Beatrice (Agnes Margaret Meyer) was born in Brooklyn, Iowa in 1899. She entered Maryknoll in 1921, made her first Profession in 1924, and then like her brother, Father Bernard Meyer who had been with the first group of Maryknoll Fathers to go to China, took up her missionary work in Hong Kong and China. For the next twenty-seven years she was to be in and out of China. Sister Beatrice has been described as an outstanding Religious by those who knew her best. Her singleness of heart in her vocation and her great appreciation of all God’s gifts, especially little things, characterized her. She especially loved little children. She was the kind of missioner who was able to get along without a lot of things, yet took great pleasure in raising baby chickens and turkeys and in making green things grow. In 1937, Sister Beatrice was superior in Yeung Kong.

In December 1941, the Japanese ordered her, along with Sister Patricia Coughlin, from Kongmoon to Macao. There they were asked to open a home for the many children who were orphaned or abandoned by families unable to feed them. Until a place was ready where they could care for the children, the two of them lived with the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary and went out into the streets each morning where many people were dying from starvation. During this period of four months, Sister Beatrice and Sister Patricia instructed and baptized an average of seventeen people a day. It was several months before a building was available for the orphan work and when one was obtained, it was a new structure belonging to a wealthy Chinese man and intended for use as a pigsty. Instead, its sides were walled up and the Sisters moved in. In the course of the next five years 1100 children were cared for here. At times the babies had to sleep crosswise, four or five to a bed. Sister Beatrice’s specific job was adapting the second-hand clothing received to fit the children. She was especially lovely with the handicapped children that came under her care. In addition to caring for the children, the two Sisters fed 500 beggars each evening with funds provided by a benevolent association.

After World War II Sister Beatrice again returned to Kongmoon until she was expelled by the Communists in 1951. She then returned to the States where she served at Bethany, Los Altos, Boston Chinatown and Valley Park. She has spent the last five years at Bethany.

Let us all remember Sister Beatrice in our prayers and ask her intercession for us as she is, in Father Bernard Meyer’s words in the homily, “enjoying God’s eternal now.”