Sister Miriam Jose Mercado, MM

Born: December 4, 1918
Entered: September 22, 1947
Died: August 15, 1981

On the Feast of the Assumption, August 15, 1981, at 5:00 p.m., Sister Miriam Jose Mercado was called to her abundant reward.

Melicia Mercado was born on December 4, 1918 in Alfonso, Cavite, Philippines. Together with two sisters and a younger brother she was orphaned in early childhood and raised by grandparents. Her association with Maryknoll began early in life when she was a student in our Grade School and High School in Malabon. In 1938 she graduated from Maryknoll Normal School in Manila.

For three years before the war (WWII) and two years after it, she taught at Maryknoll Academy in Lucena and proved to be an outstanding Grade I teacher. During those years a close friendship developed among four teachers who all later entered religious life: Sisters Miriam Jose and Carmen Eser of Maryknoll, Sister Cecilia Agnes of Assumption, and Sister Maria Constancia Pena, R.V.M.

What Melicia did for our Sisters during the war – at some risk to herself – is still gratefully remembered. Regularly she managed to bring food to our Sisters interned in Assumption Convent and those at St. Mary’s Hall – having to pass Japanese guards at every intersection. The meat and other scarce items which she brought were purchased with savings from a small “buy-and sell” business she engaged in.

On the Feast of the Ascension, 1946, both Melicia and Carmen Eser received word of their acceptance by Maryknoll and both entered in July of the following year. Their First Profession was in March, 1950, and in July of the same year both were assigned to the Philippines.

Sister Miriam Jose’s first assignment was to Lipa. She helped in the pioneer stage of this new mission and later (1956-1962) became Superior and principal of the school. She was an excellent administrator: enthusiastic, creative, well-organized and a much loved superior. During the summer months of her years in Lipa, Miriam was either among the mission band of Maryknoll Sisters doing parish work with the Maryknoll Fathers in Laguna or pursuing her studies for an M.A. in Education which she obtained in 1962.

Her next assignment was to Lucena where she was supervisor of the Grade School for three years. At various times after that Miriam was asked to substitute as school administrator in Lupon (3 months) and Jimenez (8 months).

In 1965 she was assigned to catechetical work. A team of two Sisters was Maryknoll’s contribution to a newly-initiated inter-congregational effort to bring the Good News of the Gospel to the students of Manila’s public high schools. Miriam was assigned to a public high school in Quezon City – San Francisco High – and she was good news for the 4,000 students and several hundred teachers there. All of her gifts – for friendship and joy, for proclaiming the Word and creating “happenings”; for enabling and mobilizing others – were fully actualized in this ministry which was a peak experience in her life. Most of the students were very poor and Miriam had a keen and sympathetic understanding of their poverty. She expended herself totally for them and always afterwards considered the students of San Francisco High as her “first love”.

From 1970 until the present, Sister had been in the religion department of Maryknoll College High School – first as religion teacher and, more recently, as coordinator of the religion program. She loved her work there. She related well to teenagers and faculty alike and gave wholehearted support to the lay administrators.

One of her most outstanding gifts was hospitality. Miriam was wonderful in the way she welcomed people with such enthusiasm and joy. What must have been the welcome she received as she entered the heavenly Kingdom!

As we pray for our Sister Miriam Jose’s peace and happiness in the Lord, let us be especially mindful of her family and many friends in the Philippines, who, along with her Maryknoll family, will miss her warm supportive presence in the time ahead.