Sister Kathleen Mary Beyer, MM

Born: October 31, 1912
Entered: October 5, 1946
Died: August 4, 2005

“Be still and know that I am your God.” Ps. 46

In the stillness of the night on August 4, 2005 our Sister Kathleen Mary Beyer peacefully joined her God whom she loved and served faithfully. She was 92 years of age and had been a Maryknoll Sister for 58 years.

Kathleen Mary Beyer was born on October 31, 1912 in Brooklyn, New York to Jennie and Philip Beyer. She was one of five children, three boys and two girls. She attended Holy Names Grammar School and graduated from Bishop McDonald Memorial High School in 1929.

Kathleen Mary’s call to religious life came during her high school years of which she said, “The Sisters were my role model, I felt called to be a Sister, but no one asked me; If they did, then I would have responded. I was very shy, in fact in the yearbook from high school it was noted that I was the shyest of the graduating class. So, I gave up the idea of becoming a nun and went to work for a Postal Telegraph Company.”

In 1934, Kathleen Mary received a Registered Nurse Certificate from St. Mary’s Hospital School of Nursing in Brooklyn, N.Y. While working as a private and public health nurse, she went to NY University and received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Public Health Nursing. During the Second World War, Kathleen Mary joined the Army and served as a Nurse for three years and nine months. She was stationed in Okinawa.

After the war, she returned to Brooklyn and worked as a public health nurse. A priest friend of a patient Kathleen Mary was taking care of asked her: “How about religious life for you?” She responded: “I snatched at it and it is still a mystery to me to this day, that I wrote to Maryknoll asking to be accepted.” She wanted to be a religious to serve God and perfect herself and to help spread the teaching of Christ. The reason she said why she chose Maryknoll was: “Because I wanted to be a missionary to bring the teachings of Christ and His Church to others. The high spiritual goals of Maryknoll are very inspiring. I feel Maryknoll has everything I want in a religious community.”

Kathleen Mary entered Maryknoll on October 5, 1946. At Reception she received the name Sister Kathleen Loretta. She made her First Vows on April 6, 1949 at Maryknoll, New York and Final Vows in 1952 in Kandy, Ceylon.

In 1949 Kathleen Mary was in the first group of Sisters assigned to Kandy, Ceylon. Bishop Bernard Regno, OSB requested Sisters to staff a government hospital and care for the poor. It was clear from the beginning that the work of the Sisters was to be purely professional and respectful of the Buddhist believers. Sister wrote of her years in Ceylon: “It was by our patient forbearance, understand and charity, sustained by grace, that we were able to show to the hospital personnel and patients, Christ within us. During our 10 years we felt that our work with the poor in the hospital was rewarding both for personnel, patients and for ourselves. In 1959 we were sorry to leave because of not being able to renew our visas.”

In 1959 Sister Kathleen Mary did Congregational Service in the Development Department. Then in 1960 she was assigned to Monrovia, California as a staff nurse at the Maryknoll Hospital, which served Japanese tubercular patients and continued there when the hospital became a general hospital for chest diseases.

When the hospital closed in 1972, Sister Kathleen Mary worked in Community Health Services in Azusa, Los Angeles county, as a Public Health Nurse. She served low income and minority groups until 1982. She returned to Monrovia in 1987, which had become a Retirement Center for our Sisters. During this time, Sister Kathleen Mary did outreach nursing care to the people in the town of Monrovia and also was a driver for the Sisters for medical trips. She retired in Monrovia in 1991 and continued to be of service in various ways to our Sisters. In 2000, because of failing health, she returned to Maryknoll, NY and was assigned to the Main House Community, Residential Care IV.

Sister Kathleen Mary’s positive spirit in Residential Care IV was felt by all who attended her and visited with her. When asked how she was she would always respond: “I am very happy here. I am very content and well taken care of I am very much at peace and I am so grateful to everyone.” Her tranquil, peaceful and grateful attitude sustained her during her illness. Her early desire to join the Cloister to have time to pray and to contemplate was realized during her last years. Sister spent most of her days in prayer and in listening endlessly to spiritual tapes, which she recommended to others. Her Prayer Ministry was to pray for the Pope and for Bolivia.

Those who knew Sister described her as a ‘diamond in the rough’. Her military training and discipline would surface in many ways; however, underneath that surface was a very warm, kind and generous person who gave selflessly of herself to others.

We offer our gratitude to the Residential Care Staff for their concern and care of our Sister Kathleen Mary. We extend our condolences to Sister’s family and friends. Suzanne Gurkin who are accompanying us in celebrating Sister’s New Life; also to her nieces and nephews who are unable to be with us today. We welcome our Maryknoll brother, Father Joseph McGahren, who will celebrate the Liturgy of Christian Burial.