Sister Emily McIver, MM

Born: March 23, 1917
Entered: June 9, 1935
Died: February 6, 2007

On February 6, 2007, around 10:00 a.m. Sister Emily McIver quietly entered her New Life from Phelps Memorial Hospital, Sleepy Hollow, NY. Sister was 89 years of age and had been a Maryknoll Sister for 71 years.

Emily Agnes McIver was born on March 23, 1917 in New York City the daughter of Mary Winifred Carey McIver and Bernard McIver. She was one of five children, three boys and two girls. Emily was six years old when her father died and she lost her mother when she was 13. She was raised by her elder sister, Winifred.

Emily felt called to religious life while in high school and knew she wanted to do missionary work. Her dream to serve God and the poor was realized when, after graduating from Holy Ghost Academy, she entered Maryknoll on June 9, 1935, from St. Alphonsus Parish, NY. In a note to Mother Mary Joseph she said, “I am so happy to be entering Maryknoll. I shall take every opportunity to show how happy and grateful I am to God and you for the great gift I am now in possession of.” At Reception she received the religious name of Sister Andrew Marie. Her First Profession of Vows was on January 6, 1938 at Maryknoll, NY and she made her Final Profession of Vows on the same date in 1941 in Hawaii.

In 1937, Sister Emily studied at Maryknoll Teacher Training School, in Maryknoll, NY and earned a Teacher’s Certificate. She was assigned to Hawaii in 1940, and was a primary school teacher in Kalihi and Kaneohe. In 1943 she returned to the Center and continued her studies at Maryknoll Teachers College and received a Bachelor’s degree in Education.

Sister’s work in the Central Pacific Region alternated between Hawaii and the Marshall Islands. She returned to Hawaii in 1946 and taught in primary grades in Kalihi and Kaneohe. In 1948 to she went to the Marshall Islands, to Koror and Likiep and continued teaching in the primary grades. Sister Emily returned to the States in 1953 to study at Fordham University while teaching at St. Anthony’s School in the Bronx. In 1954 she transferred to St. Louis University and earned a Master’s of Education degree, while teaching at St. Bernard’s School, St. Louis.

Three years later, in 1957, Sister Emily returned to Maryknoll and taught American History and American Literature at Maryknoll Teachers College until 1964 when she returned to Hawaii to teach at the Maryknoll High School in Punahou, Honolulu.

She characterized her main mission work as, and I quote, “My Charism is I think teaching in a formal situation, supporting students and parents to be self-reliant and to better themselves. I stressed actions that would ask from them self-direction and an awareness of the paths that are opening up for them to become professionals and work in the area of justice.”

Sister Emily was instrumental in the establishment of three schools in the Marshall Islands: in 1964 Holy Rosary Elementary School on Likiep; Assumption High School (the first Catholic high school) in Majuro in 1971; and Queen of Peace Elementary School in Ebeye, in 1978. The education Emily offered helped the students to realize, as she said, “That their life is God’s gift to them and what they do with their lives is their gift to God”. Emily believed in education that would help in the formation of service-oriented youth to become the future leaders in the Marshall Islands. Mr. Alfred Capelle, a former student on Likiep, one of the first three Marshallese Deacons, currently serves as the Marshall Islands Ambassador to the United Nations. The assistant to the Ambassador, Mr. Biuma Samson, was also Emily’s student. They are two of the many students who continue the legacy of Emily in the Marshalls.

Sister Emily worked in the College of Micronesia on Majuro in their Extension Program in Teacher Training until 1984 when she returned to the Center. She did Congregational Service as Coordinator of a program called Minimal Care, which was an earlier version of Assisted Living.

In 1991, Sister Emily returned to Majuro, but retired from formal education. However she continued to be of service to the people by visiting the sick in the one and only hospital on Majuro Atoll. During this time she also established the first Assumption School Alumni Association, and taught Conversational English to Taiwanese, Japanese and other foreigners who established business relationships with the government of the Marshall Islands

Sister retired to our residence in Monrovia, CA. in 1994, where she enjoyed learning Italian, learning how to draw cartoons (she loved Charlie Brown) and spending time with other Sisters. She was assigned to the Center: Chi Rho Community in 2003 and in January 2007, because of failing health, she moved to Residential Care III. During this time her Prayer Ministry was for the people and Sisters in Nicaragua.

We remember Sister Emily for her gentleness, an even disposition, a sense of humor and ready chuckle, but most of all her interest in the person she was with, young or aged, she was always present to them with joy. Emily used her time and talent for the betterment of others. She will forever be fondly remembered by those whose lives she touched and served in mission.

In 1994 Sister Emily was recognized by the government of the Marshall Islands by issuing a Resolution that reads: “To express the sincere appreciation and heartfelt gratitude of the people and Government of the Republic of the Marshall Islands to Sister Emily Mclver for her many years of dedicated service to the Marshallese people.” Signed by the then Speaker Kessai Note, who is presently serving his second term as President of the Marshall Islands.

We offer our condolences to Sister Emily’s family.

We are grateful to our Maryknoll brother Father Carl Muelmann who will preside at this Liturgy of Christian Burial.

Sister Emily treasured a card that reads: “May each day of your life know the warmth of the rising sun, the fresh, crisp rush of the wind, and the noisy joy of the seagull’s flight”

“Yohwe Yuk”, we love you Sr. Emily.