Sister Louise Kroeger, MM

Born: August 5, 1911
Entered: December 12, 1932
Died: March 9, 1989

Thursday morning March 9 at 1:30 A.M. Sister Mary Louise died at Phelps Memorial Hospital in North Tarrytown, New York.

Mary Louise Kroeger was born to William and Florence Strott Kroeger on August 5, 1911 in Washington, Missouri. Growing up with her were her brother, and two sisters.  To each person in the family we extend heartfelt condolence. Louise had deep affection for the members of her family.

Theirs was a happy home. Louise, a bright, intuitive and fun filled child was educated in the Immaculate Conception Grade and High School system of Jefferson City, MO. In her request to enter, she described this parish school as the finest in the Diocese. At eighteen, she assumed adulthood: went to work, was active in and then president of the Young Ladies Sodality, and enjoyed the attention of a young man who hoped to marry her. Within two years she made a clear decision to enter Maryknoll. The Louise we knew was just this decisive person, one who could weigh the possibilities and move with a choice even though this choice was difficult for her and sometimes for others. On December 12, 1932 Louise came to Maryknoll and at Reception received the name of “Sister Miriam Louise.” She made First Profession on June 30, 1935.

Immediately after First Profession she was assigned to the interior of China and served as a catechist in the areas of Tungshek and Tsingkow. One of the villages she visited was a home for victims of Hansen’s Disease. She loved to be among those people. In 1938 she was assigned to the Philippines and sent to Baguio where she made Final Profession on June 30, 1938.

Sister was among the many religious and ex-patriot persons interned during World War II. For three years, she traveled from camp to camp carrying only a small bag. After the famous Los Banos rescue by the 11th Airborne Division, Sister was asked, along with others, to submit to the War Claims Court her request for refunds. She asked for sixty pesos, forty of which were to replace her Office Books. She made this low claim in conscience, and, I might add, to the consternation of her Superiors. She thought the clothing she had carried in her small bag was still usable. Yes, this is the same Louise we knew who really took pride in how she looked. But the Louise we may not have known so well is the person who sewed her own clothing and remade what her sisters sent her in order to buy books for Sisters overseas and to call those who were having a hard time.

During the internment she lost forty pounds but she returned immediately to Baguio and teaching. It was only five years later that she came to the Center for a Decennial that never happened because she was asked to go on Promotion and said, “Yes.”

Her experiences in China, the Philippines and these next seven years on Promotion crystallized for her the importance of the Maryknoll story reaching the public through earnest, well trained promoters. She experienced the hunger of people for examples to stir their spirits to give of themselves and their resources to serve God. She also knew the value of every hard earned dollar given us and this affected her throughout her years in Congregational Service.

From Promotion she was assigned to St. Louis to teach in our Grade School there, then from 1961-1964 she completed her Bachelor’s in Education Degree at Maryknoll Teachers College. If the order here sounds backward, it isn’t! Immediately after, she returned to the Philippines, this tine to Mindanao and, for her, a new culture of the people in Cotabato. Here she opened the Junior College at Datu Piang. 1970 saw her return to the Center where she began service in the Purchasing Department that ended with her death. In all she gave twenty-five years to Congregational Service.

When I asked a few of her friends to describe Louise, they characterized her as a quality person, loyal, one who kept people in her heart. She was sensitive, very artistic, extremely generous, intelligent and witty with a flair for the dramatic, never hesitating to embellish a story if it served the cause of humor. She demanded a lot of herself and expected it from others.

Today we celebrate Sister Louise Kroeger’s new life. Our heart and prayers are with her family. Father Edward Manning, M.M. will preside at the Liturgy of the Resurrection.