Sister Miriam De Lourdes Fahey, MM

Born: June 20, 1910
Entered: December 8, 1930
Died: March 23, 1987

We are gathered here today to celebrate the death and new life of our Sister Miriam de Lourdes Fahey, who died peacefully 8 a.m. Monday, March 23, at age 76, after some days at Straub Hospital in Honolulu. Her last days were spent with courage and good humor, grateful for every service, but trying to be as little trouble as possible to everyone. She had periods of greater weakness but was generally alert until a few hours before her death.

Fr. Maurice McNeely, paster of Our Lady of the Mount, had anointed Miriam the evening before, and Sr. Marie Patrice Kehoe was with her during her last hours, sharing with her in prayer. Although Sr. Miriam’s condition could have gone on for some time, or even improved again temporarily, she surprised us by slipping away quietly as though in sleep.

Clare Fahey was born June 20, 1910, in New York City of Irish Catholic parents, Mary Agnes Lynch and John Fahey. She had six brothers and sisters. Clare grew up in New York City in Our Lady of Lourdes parish, and graduated from Cathedral High School. She also attended Eastman-Gaines Business School in New York City for one year. Later in life as a Sister she received a nurse’s aide certificate at St. Francis Hospital in Honolulu. Sr. Miriam had many natural talents and used them well wherever she went, such as cooking and art work.

Clare’s great desire was to serve God and people as a missioner, even if it meant leaving family and friends. She joined the young Maryknoll Congregation in Ossining, New York, in 1930. She loved Our Lady of Lourdes and took her name and feast day February 11 throughout her long religious life which extended well beyond her Golden Jubilee of 1980. Sr. Miriam wore a medal of Our Lady that was given her in 8th grade for achievement in religion class; the same worn medal will be buried with her today. Her mission crucifix and Maryknoll ring will also accompany her.

Sr. Miriam’s first 9 years in Maryknoll were spent at the Motherhouse in New York and at the Maryknoll Fathers Minor Seminary at Mountain View, California, in kitchen and office work. In 1939, to her delight, she was assigned overseas to Maui Children’s Home in the Territory of Hawaii where she took loving care of the children for 15 years. In 1954 she was assigned to Oahu where she used her skills in cooking at Maryknoll Convent, Punahou, St. Anthony’s, Kalihi, and St. Augustine’s, Waikiki, for 18 years. She spent a short renewal period at Majuro in the Marshall Islands in 1969, and was very attracted to this needy mission area. In 1972, Sr. Miriam began yet another ministry working for area-wide opportunities for senior citizens at Catholic Social Service, Honolulu, while living at St. John’s, Kalihi, and our School Street house.

After a period of congregational service working at our Bethany Nursing Home in New York, 1975-1979, she finally received a much hoped for assignment to the Marshall Islands on the island of Ebeye. Her three years there were precious to her and she kept close ties the rest of her life. In 1982 the doctor in the Marshalls felt it was urgent that she return to Honolulu for treatment for an illness. With her usual good grace, Sr. Miriam lived at Our Lady of the Mount and worked as a volunteer at the Catholic Immigrant Project, did hospice work at St. Francis, and parish outreach at the cathedral. Just before Christmas 1986, she was invited back to Ebeye by the pastor, Fr. Leonard Hacker, S.J., for the long-awaited blessing of the new church. Sr. Miriam wanted to do this very much, feeling it would be her last chance to see her former mission. The two weeks took considerable effort but were a fitting climax for her entire life of mission service.

Her declining health became more evident. She said on her last feast day, February 11, while temporarily hospitalized, that Our Lady of Lourdes had always taken care of her, and would always do so, trusting herself entirely to God and his Mother. During her last hospitalization she expected to be home by the Annunciation, March 25; either home at Our Lady of the Mount, or home in heaven. She was willing, if necessary, to go to our nursing home at the Center in New York but her preference was to stay here in Hawaii, and it seems her last wish was granted.

We will remember Sr. Miriam, a Maryknoll Sister for nearly 57 years, for her graciousness, her generosity, her gentle humor, her ready smile, her prayerfulness, her love of people wherever she was sent – the mainland, Hawaii, the Marshalls, and her active involvement even in declining health on our Admissions Team, Justice and Peace Committee and volunteer community service. Having her now as an advocate in heaven adds a special dimension to our 60th anniversary celebration in Hawaii. Her body will rest in Diamond Head cemetery with the other 10 Maryknoll Sisters buried there, but her spirit will be felt in many places and many hearts.

Our sympathy and condolences go out to Sr. Miriam’s family and friends. We thank Fr. Frank Diffley, Regional of the Maryknoll Fathers, celebrant at our Mass today; Deacon Roy Matsuo, Fr. John Stankard, M.M., Fr. James Jackson, M.M., Fr. Henry Sabog, formerly pastor of this parish, and Fr. Francis Nakagawa, for participating in our liturgy, and all of you here celebrating the death and new life or our Sister Miriam de Lourdes.

“Dying you destroyed our death; rising you restored our life; Lord Jesus come in glory.”