“Happiness can only be experienced through service and we are only able to make God’s Love visible in our world by serving and loving others. Everything we do in some way expresses Christ’s love for the poor and marginalized people in our world. That option has to be our option.”
– Sister Betty Ann Maheu, MM
As a Maryknoll Sister, Betty Ann Maheu, MM has often expressed the joy she has experienced in her religious life, jokingly saying, “I have enjoyed my life in Maryknoll so much that I don’t know if I can get to heaven. My great joy has been all the people all over the world, who have taught me so much.”
Much of Sister Betty Ann’s education was in Catholic schools, and although she wasn’t really attracted to religious life yet, she said she always knew she would become a Sister. After college, she took a job teaching with the Sisters of Mercy in 1940. In her interview for that position, she told the Sister, “I will only leave you if I become a nun.”
When visiting home, she saw a book on her father’s bookshelf entitled “The Maryknoll Movement.” She said she read the book all night and couldn’t get it out of her mind. Eventually she wrote to Maryknoll, was interviewed and entered the Maryknoll Sisters in 1949. After her first vows in 1952, she went to Hawaii on mission. The Maryknoll Sisters organized the first parochial schools in Hawaii, and Sister Betty Ann taught for 9 years in Maui, where she also put on plays and musicals to help with the parish funding.
In 1970, she came home to Maryknoll for the Congregational General Assembly, and was elected to the Congregational Governing Board, where she served until 1978. Sister remembers these years as vital and challenging for the growth of the congregation, due to the many changes in religious life.
In 1978 Sister Betty Ann interviewed with the International Union of Superiors General to serve in Rome, where she became the coordinator of their publications for 6 years. In 1985, she assumed the role of Center
House Administrator at Maryknoll.
When asked where she’d like to go next, Sister Betty Ann replied, “China.” So in 1990, at age 67, Sister Betty Ann went to China to teach in a summer school for English teachers. After that, the Maryknoll Fathers invited her to work in Hong Kong at a China Research Center which served the Church in China. Sister became the English editor of their publications and traveled to many poor places in China with the Hilton Foundation for Sisters and Aid for the Church in Need. After 15 years in Hong Kong, Sister decided to return to Maryknoll to retire.
Sister Betty Ann’s retirement has since consisted of volunteering in the Congregational Secretariat, assisting with inquiries and archives as well as more time for reflection and prayer. At 95 Sister Betty Ann still spreads her joy among the Sisters as a living example of fidelity and service.
Since her hearing is not what it used to be, she is delighted with a new grant from SOAR! that allowed the Sisters to install a new sound system in the chapel, so that she can hear more fully at Mass and at workshops and seminars.