Sister Marie Ready, MM

Born: August 22, 1914
Entered: December 18, 1938
Died: July 9, 1986

On Wednesday evening, July 9th, the Hawaiian Feast of Our Lady of Peace, Sister Marie Ready quickly and quietly slipped away to God in our Maryknoll Nursing Home. Marie had come home in May 1985 because of an illness and spent the past year in treatment – she had hope almost to the last that she might win the fight. But, when Marie went to the Nursing Home on July 1st, she knew that this was to be her last journey and she told one of her friends: “This is the end.” But she rallied for the Center celebration of the Fourth of July; as always, her inner strength dominated the frailty of her body. It could not last, however, and the end came easily; surrounded by her Sisters, she gave her soul to God.

Ethel Elizabeth Ready was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts on August 22, 1914. She was one of 4 children born to Moses and Minnie Coutanche who had come to the United States from the Isle of Jersey in the Channel Islands off the coast of England. Her brothers: Raymond, Elmer, known as Al, and Edwin her twin brother, were always very special people to Marie. When their mother died very young and their father was unable to keep the small family together, they were separated and placed in adoptive homes and did not get together again until 1938 when Ethel was preparing to enter Maryknoll.

Ethel graduated from St. Columbkille’s and St. Joseph Academy in Brighton, Massachusetts in 1932 and went on to graduate from Boston University in 1936 with a degree in Physical Education.

In 1938 she entered Maryknoll and received the name “Sister Marie” at her formal Reception on June 30, 1939. Her mission journey began in Los Angeles shortly after her First Profession of Vows on June 30, 1941. In 1943 Marie went to Hawaii where she remained until 1979 except for short periods of time spent on Promotion and Renewal. Marie pronounced her Final Vows in Wailuku, Maui, on June 30, 1944. Marie was considered a “first-rate” primary school teacher, which was her basic ministry on Maui, Oahu, and the big Island of Hawaii. Although she was only a little bigger than the children she taught, Marie was always creative, energetic, innovative and totally present to the children she was teaching. Her talents also naturally extended to sports for which she was trained and to the arts – directing plays which delighted audiences of all ages. In 1968, she became interested in Adult Education and was so successful in a Head-Start Program that, in 1972, she was given a grant to study by the Department of Education on Oahu. This took her to England where she studied “Curriculun of Early Childhood” at Froebel Institute in London.

This study-time in England was fortuitous in many ways. It gave Marie an opportunity to get in touch with her father’s family on the Isle of Jersey and spend some time with them. They had been trying through the Anerican Salvation Army to trace her family in Massachusetts, and it was through her brother Al that they finally did so.

This seemed to be the beginning of new horizons for Marie. In 1979, she applied for a transfer of Regions. She said in her application, “Although I have been happy during my years in Hawaii, I have always hoped that eventually I might be assigned to the Far East. In fact, I entered Maryknoll because I had heard that the Sisters had missions in China. At the present time I feel called forth to enter a new phase. The feeling persists and I trust it is the Spirit which is speaking to me. I realize it will be a challenge – to move into a very different culture, but I am happy, and am eager to give it my best.” When she received her assignnent to Korea in 1979 she wrote, “It must be at least 30 years that I have been secretly hoping for this assignment.” And so, Marie Ready, at the young age of 65, ventured to the Land of the Morning Calm: Korea, with the same zest for life and enthusiasm for mission as she did in 1941. Although she had to tackle a very difficult language with now failing eyesight, nothing deterred her from plunging wholeheartedly into the lives and culture of the Korean people. Her simplicity enabled her to substitute the language of the heart for the language of words; she allowed the Korean people to help her all along the way. Marie soon got into a Campus Ministry at the National University in Chong-Ju, teaching English as a Second Language. She lived very simply in an apartnent with Sister Jeanne Schaedler – providing, she said, a place for students to feel free to come and relax, to talk about God and to get help with their studies. She was totally present and available to them. One of her students, who had been very discouraged about repeated failures in exams, summed up the ambience in which Marie’s students found themselves: “This is my second home. I feel happy here. I don’t have to hide my troubles – I can just be me.” And, as Maryknoll Father Jack Corcoran said when he visited Marie just before she died, “She was a great little lady. She made a big hit in a short time.”

Although it was difficult for Marie to leave Korea last year, both she and the Region felt it was best that she do so. Her struggle for life during this year was expressed sometimes in tremendous independence and at other times in dependence and vulnerability. She lived with joy and vigor giving thanks to God for giving her time to grow in His love.

And so we have come together to give thanks to that same God for the many ways in which the life of Sister Marie Ready enriched our own. We extend our sympathy to Sister’s family and friends. We welcome our good friend Father Jack Corcoran of Maryknoll, who will lead us in our Eucharistic Celebration of remembrance, of rejoicing and of thanksgiving.