Born on October 6, 1922, in Brookville, NY, to Peter and Anna Heilig, Sister Catherine graduated from Hicksville High School in 1940, then worked for several years at Grumman Aircraft and the K & O Company, Bethpage, NY. She entered Maryknoll on September 6, 1949 from St. Ignatius Parish, Hicksville, NY.
At her reception into the Maryknoll Community she received the religious name, Sister Maria St. Peter. She made her First Vows on March 7, 1952, at the Maryknoll Sisters Center, Maryknoll, NY, and worked in the congregation’s Promotion Department that year.
Her assignment to Bolivia came in 1953. Following one year of language study in Cochabamba, Sister Catherine taught first to fourth grade in Guayamerin, Bolivia, from 1955-1957. She was sent to Riberalta in the Bolivian jungle. She first did catechetical work among residents in Riberalta and surrounding communities. Except for three years working in Juli in the Altiplano of Peru, 1961-1964, and three years working in the Congregation’s Development Department, 1977 to 1980, sister served for 45 years in the jungles of Bolivia. As a member of the Rural Pastoral Institute team, she was involved in Basic Christian Community work and in developing leadership and fostering continuing education of rural men. For her work with women along the rivers of the Beni, the Comite Civico Femenino gave Sister an award for her selfless and dedicated service. She was also given a Diploma of Honor from the Civic Regional Committee of Riberalta. She continued this work until her return to the Maryknoll Sisters Center in 2002.
Following her return to the Maryknoll Sisters Center, she spent hours each week in active ministry at a local food pantry in Ossining, NY, serving the needs of the Hispanic immigrant community. Along with other Maryknoll Sisters and lay volunteers, she helped distribute food to those seeking respite from the streets. She also was active in prayer ministry on behalf of the work of Maryknoll Archives and the mission of Bolivia until her death.
A vespers service will be held for Sister Catherine on Tuesday, December 8, 2015, at 4:15 p.m. in the Chapel of the Annunciation at the Maryknoll Sisters Center at Maryknoll, NY. A Mass of Christian Burial will follow on Wednesday, December 9, 2015, at 11 a.m., also at the Center. Interment will be in the Maryknoll Sisters Cemetery on the Center grounds.