Sister Leona Michiels, MM, an educator in Hawaii for more than 20 years, died January 17, 2015, at Maryknoll Sisters Home Care IV, Maryknoll, NY. She was 97 years old and had been a Maryknoll Sister for 76 years.
Sister Leona was born on November 8, 1917, to Leo P. and Leona M. Syoen Michiels in Chicago, IL. She was the oldest of ten children born to the couple. A 1935 graduate of Immaculata High School, Chicago, she entered Maryknoll at their Motherhouse in Maryknoll, NY, from St. Ignatius Parish, Chicago, on December 7, 1938, following three years of study at Mundelein College, Chicago.
She made her First Profession of Vows on June 30, 1941, at the Motherhouse, having retained her baptismal name at reception, and her Final Profession of Vows in Hawaii on June 30, 1944. After her First Profession, she completed her studies at Manhattanville College, New York, NY, receiving a B.A. in biology in 1942. She later secured an M.S. in education from Temple University in 1965.
Sister Leona was assigned to Hawaii in 1943, at a time when Maryknoll Sisters were operating 10 Catholic schools in the diocese, which encompasses what is now the entire state. She taught junior and senior high school science at St. Anthony School, Wailuku, Maui, from 1943-1959, then was transferred to Maryknoll School, Honolulu, where she taught physics, algebra and geometry for one year. She then spent one year teaching science at St. Ann’s School, Kaneohe, Oahu, in 1960.
Following completion of her master’s degree at Temple University in 1965, Sister Leona went to Helen Herlihy Hall in Mexico for language study, quickly becoming proficient in Spanish. She then taught science at Colegio Monte Maria in Guatemala until 1971.
Sister Leona then returned to Hawaii, where she again taught at St. Ann’s School in Kaneohe until 1973, when she returned to the Maryknoll Sisters Center. There she served as infirmary driver until 1976, when she moved to the congregation’s residence in Monrovia, CA, to serve as a driver there.
In 1981, Sister Leona again returned to the Center, where she set up the congregation’s Stamp Department until 2010.
A vespers service will be held for Sister Leona on Wednesday, January 21, 2015, at 4:15 p.m. in the Chapel of the Annunciation at the Maryknoll Sisters Center at Maryknoll, NY. The Liturgy of Christian Burial will take place on Thursday, January 22, 2015, at 11 a.m. in the same location. Interment will be in the Maryknoll Sisters Cemetery at the Center.