My Salute to the Maryknoll Sisters

Fr. Peter Chung   

It was the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary on September 8. The two Maryknoll Sisters, Sr. Ann Carolyne Glass and Sr. Ruth Louise Reusch, left Macau, the city that their community had served for 39 years, to return to their Mother House in the States. 

A big farewell party had been joyously held for these beloved sisters at the Parish Church of St. Joseph the Worker, Iao Hon a week before their departure. Some of the parishioners wondered aloud why the sisters had left without a word. I think it was due partly to the COVID-19 pandemic and partly to their preference for a low profile.

However, having quietly served the diocese in the northern area of the city for 39 years, the Maryknoll Sisters are to be remembered with gratitude by all people, not only those in close contact with them, but also the mere acquaintances.

A parishioner with Sr. Susan Glass at the Macau airport.

There was an amazing story behind the sisters’ decision to serve the Church of Macau. The sisters had spent a day touring around the city before the decision was made. The three were having lunch in a local Chinese roadside eatery in the Iao Hon area. Sr. Arlene was attracted by a few youngsters at the next table communicating with the use of sign language, which happened to be her expertise. She immediately joined the group and started talking freely with them. The sisters were greatly impressed by the chance encounter with the youngsters. This was thus one of the reasons why they decided to come to serve the local community. Indeed, Sr. Arlene established the first-ever association in Macau for the pastoral care of deaf people, which, up to these days, has been very active in St. Joseph the Worker Parish. Thanks to Sr. Arlene!

While Sr. Paulette was engaged in her new job at the Diocesan Pastoral Youth Center, Sr. Dorothy, the person in charge of the community, was busy managing the daily routines. After some time, on the request of Bishop da Costa, the Marykoll Sisters set up a Pastoral Center in Hac-Sa-Wan. Accordingly, they moved from the Pastoral Youth Center to a unit close to the new Center in Hac-Sa-Wan. Sr. Dorothy was assigned the role of the first director of the Hac-Sa-Wan Pastoral Center. This new institute was set up to be a pre-parish of St. Joseph the Worker, which was inaugurated in 1999. The Maryknoll Sisters are indeed the pioneers of evangelization in the Iao Hon area. Thanks to Sr. Dorothy and her co-workers!

Sr Susan with Sr. Ann Reusch

We also owe our thanks to the Maryknoll Sisters for their generosity in sending newcomers again and again to support the community in Macau. At the same time some of them were involved in the pastoral service in the nearby parishes and schools. Sr. Mary Diggins and Sr. Anne Marie Emdin came to serve in Our Lady of Fatima’s Parish in 1991. With their active help, the parish priest established a care Center for the elderly no matter what religious beliefs they held. The sisters paid home visits, accompanied those who were in need to clinics and hospitals and organized activities such as picnics and parties to make life more meaningful and more eventful for the participants. Thanks to Sr. Mary and Sr. Anne!

Sr. Mary Ann Junas, one of the former directors of the Hac-Sa-Wan Pastoral Center, was appointed by Bishop da Costa to be one of the consultants of the Natural Family Planning Program at the Diocesan Family Committee. Some other sisters, for example, Sr. Susan Carolyn Glass, Sr. Anne Louse Reusch and Sr. Christina Marie Jung, were teaching English in some diocesan schools in the area. Sr. Anne Therese Leonard, Sr. Ruth Elizabeth Brielmaier and Sr. Marie Ann Lipetzky, despite their brief stay in Macau, offered great support to the flourishing pastoral services of the local Maryknoll community. Thanks to you all, dear sisters! 

Today you have finished your mission here in Macau. Your footprints will forever be ingrained in our history and our hearts. May your services and sharing with us in Christ our Savior enrich your lives and those of the other Maryknoll Sisters all over the world! We thank God for having had you with us for the last 39 years! God bless you all! A big hug to you all!

(Photos show (1) the farewell party at St Joseph’s parish, (2) a parishioner with Sr. Susan Glass at the Macau airport, (3) Sr Susan with Sr. Ann Reusch)