Sister Miriam Schmitt, MM
Born: November 25, 1897
Entered: June 7, 1921
Died: August 26, 1977
We received word yesterday from Sister Maureen Gunning in Taiwan that Sister Miriam Schmitt died peacefully on August 26th at 9:00 a.m.
Sister Miriam (Lucy Schmitt) was born in Menasha, Wisconsin on November 25, 1897, She entered Maryknoll on June 7, 1921; made her First Profession on April 9, 1923 and her Final Vows in Hong Kong on April 9, 1926.
Sister Miriam went to Hong Kong in 1923 and ten years later was transferred to Manchuria. During these years she was involved in pastoral ministry both as a catechist and as Novice Mistress for the Chinese Sisters.
In 1943 Sister was repatriated because of World War II, She returned to the Center where she was in charge of the sewing room. Three years later, she and Sister Veronica Marie Carney were the first Maryknoll Sisters to return to Manchuria, In 1951 she was expelled to Hong Kong after several months of house arrest in Kweilin, She then went to Macau where she worked in the training of Chinese Sisters in the Religious life. In 1960 Sister was assigned to Taiwan and, until recently, has been involved in hostel work with university women. In describing her work and presence in mission during these years, she wrote: I am doing catechetical work, preparations for Baptism, and am helping Catholics deepen their faith. Baptisms are few at present, but we must continue to teach. It will be another who will reap what we sow. Faith comes by hearing. How can they hear unless we teach? To teach them the Way, the Truth and the Life of Christ is not easy, but it is a very simple form of evangelization.”
Those who worked with Sister Miriam considered her an excellent missioner. Although she was reserved in groups, she shared deeply of her faith experience on a one-to-one level. The day before she died Sister Louise Elling was with her and asked if there was anything she needed, Sister smiled and said, “Only you”, This was typical of her – of her very simple needs and life style and of her deep commitment to her Maryknoll Community and to people.
Two months ago Sister Miriam sent in her reflections to the Task Force on Commitment as we had all been requested to do, She wrote that she saw total commitment as “a complete gift of one’s life to God.” She noted that “Being part of a community is a big help to mission work. It gives a greater depth, broader outlook and better continuity than an individual could have.” She concluded that she was “committed to God through the keeping of the vows and living of the religious life and teaching the Good News.” It is this witness to God’s Good News through her life that characterizes Sister Miriam for all of us who knew and loved her.
Sister Miriam is survived by three brothers, all of whom are living in Merrill, Wisconsin.
The Mass of the Resurrection will be offered for Sister Miriam at the Cathedral Parish in Taichung on Tuesday, August 30th. She will be buried in the town of Yuan Lin, where our Sisters went when they first came to Taiwan in 1953.