Sister Elizabeth Therese Conroy, MM

Born: June 9, 1913
Entered: December 30, 1958
Died: June 28, 1995

At the end of Sirach (51:30) we read: “Work at your task at due season and in time, God will give you your reward.” Unknown to Sr. Elizabeth Therese Conroy or to any of us, Elizabeth’s time had come and God took her suddenly to her Eternal Home. We may well consider Sr. Elizabeth Therese’s task done as, there was always about her a sense of commitment and dedication to the life in Maryknoll to which she had given herself. On the morning of June 28, 1995, it was found that Sister had died. It was a shock for all. Elizabeth was 82 years old.

Elizabeth Therese Conroy was born on June 9, 1913 in Sellersburg, Indiana. Her parents also had three sons. Elizabeth grew up on a small farm and attended the parish elementary school and the local Silver Creek High School. She worked her way through college and graduated from Purdue University in 1935 with a Bachelor of Science Degree. Later Elizabeth graduated from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore in 1946 with an M.S. in Bacteriology. Over the years, Elizabeth also earned four additional certificates in Biology and  Bacteriology. Because Elizabeth felt the need to help give personal and spiritual support to patients, she embarked on the Clinical Pastoral Education Course Program and in 1991, finished the Advanced Unit and was certified as a Pastoral Associate. Elizabeth was a member of the National Association of Catholic Chaplains and also, in 1991, received a Tutor Certificate in Laubach Literacy Action. Between 1942 and 1957, Elizabeth had six articles published in medical or scientific journals.

When she came to Maryknoll, Elizabeth was older and more experienced than most women are. After college graduation she taught in her home high school, then worked as a Bacteriologist in Michigan State Laboratories, and later was employed at the National Center for Disease Control in Atlanta in teaching, diagnosis and research. At the age of 45, Elizabeth entered the Congregation on December 30, 1958 at Valley Park. She made her First Profession on August 22, 1961 at Valley Park and her Final Profession the same date in 1967 at Maryknoll, New York. At the time, teachers were needed in Maryknoll Teachers College so Elizabeth taught biology and chemistry from 1961 until 1968. She was then asked to take a two-year, temporary exchange assignment to teach Biological Sciences at Maryknoll College in Manila until 1970. In June, 1971, Elizabeth went to Hong Kong for five years where she was the sole Bacteriologist at Our Lady of Maryknoll Hospital in Kowloon.

After Renewal, Elizabeth joined the Western Region and did ministry in hospitals for the Apaches in Arizona and with the Navaho in Gallup, New Mexico from 1977 to 1980. She was a Hospital Chaplain in Denver, Colorado from 1981 to 1983, followed by three years with Catholic Charities in the Food Bank Funding Project and hospital visiting in Phoenix, Arizona. For the next two years, Elizabeth was Project Manager of St. Mary’s Food Bank, where she did public relations, fund-raising and advocacy work. In 1988, Elizabeth returned to the Center and was Administrator of Rogers Library until 1990.

Following another Renewal, Elizabeth spent some time at Monrovia and volunteered service at Santa Teresita Hospital. She was known there for enthusiastic dedication to the elder patients and for always being there, rain or shine. Elizabeth transferred to the Center from the Western Region in 1992. At the Center, Elizabeth was faithful every day in helping our Sisters in Residential Care with their lunch. She enjoyed social conversations in our main dining room and talking with Sisters on her frequent walks. Elizabeth enjoyed gardening and reveled in the beauty of all Maryknoll grounds. She was an avid reader and was often found in the Library at Rogers or at the Society Center. Elizabeth enjoyed periodic visits with her family and always took part in large activities at our Center.

Over the years Elizabeth made a number of Mission Institutes, including a week ago, June 18th. She said herself, and others remarked of her, that she really liked the program. We also know that she also liked the presenter, Fr. Larry Lewis, M.M., and made a comment in public that she wanted him to be the Celebrant at her Liturgy of the Resurrection. Larry is with us today as the Celebrant; thank you. Niether he nor we knew the occasion would be so soon.

Elizabeth had many adjustments to make in life; starting a new life when middle-aged; going out to new cultures abroad and within the United States. She was a person of enthusiasm and always wanted to share what she knew and what she did. Because of her overall dedication to God, to Maryknoll and to the people with whom we are in mission, we feel confident that Elizabeth now hears the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”