Sister Cecilia Santos M.M., Maryknoll Sister for 75 Years Dies


Maryknoll, NY: Sister Cecilia Santos, M.M. died on March 18th, 2022 at the Maryknoll Sisters Center, Maryknoll, NY. She was 93 years old and had been a Maryknoll Sister for 75 years.

Cecilia was born in Paia, Maui, Hawaii on January 30th, 1929, to Manuel Santos and Alexa (Gouveia) Santos.  She had one sister, nine brothers and a foster brother and sister; all of whom have pre-deceased her.

In 1947, she graduated from St. Anthony’s Girls High School in Wailuku, HI.  After graduation she entered the Maryknoll Sisters Novitiate at the Maryknoll Sisters Center, Maryknoll, NY on August 18th, 1947 from (St. Joseph Parish, Maui of the Honolulu Diocese, HI).

On March 7th,1950 she pronounced her First Profession of Vows and her Final Profession of Vows three years later on March 7th, 1953, at the Maryknoll Sisters Center, Maryknoll, NY.

Sister Cecilia then earned a Bachelor of Education Degree from Maryknoll Teachers College (located on the property of the Maryknoll Sisters Center) in 1954 and later that year was assigned to teach in Maryknoll Sisters’ Schools in Hawaii until 1962. She then received her first overseas mission assignment to Chile, South America.

Her mission journey in Chile began with a year of studying the Spanish language in the village of Pucón. She then taught in grade schools subsidized by the government in very poor areas as well as parishes ministered by the Maryknoll Fathers. From 1963-1966, Sister Cecilia was in Santiago and then assigned to the rural town of Curepto where she served as Principal of a Parish School until 1968.  She then moved further south to the city of Chillán where she taught 4th grade until 1971.  For a brief period from June 1971 through January 1972 she returned to Waikiki, HI and taught 4th grade.  However, in 1972 she returned to Chillán, Chile to teach 6th grade until 1976.  During those years spent in Chillán she also did home visiting, taught bible study classes and provided guidance to mothers who were preparing their children to receive their first Holy Communion.

In 1976 Sister Cecilia returned to the Maryknoll Sisters Center, Maryknoll, NY to work in Supportive Services until 1978.  She then joined the Maryknoll Sisters Contemplative Community for one year until she returned to Chile once again in 1980. This time she was serving in the small town of Coelemu, where she served as a pastoral worker for the next 35 years! Her work included serving as: Chaplain of a 60 bed hospital, Director of the Parish Catechetical Department, Director of Basic Christian Communities, Coordinator of Eucharistic Ministers, leadership training, youth work, caring for the poor and needy, leading Sunday liturgies when the Parish Priest was elsewhere and much more.  In 1991 she was awarded the town’s citation of “Outstanding Neighbor” by the Mayor of Coelemu.

In 2015, Sister Cecilia returned to Maryknoll, NY and was assigned to the Central Pacific Region.  There she worked in the Sacred Heart Parish, in Honolulu, HI, volunteering two days a week in the parish food pantry and accompanying her elder sister who was ill.

In February of 2022 she returned to the Maryknoll Sisters Center, Maryknoll, NY where she remained until her death.

Funeral Services:

Sister Cecilia generously donated her body to science.

A Vespers service will be held on Monday, March 28th, 2022 at 4:15 p.m. in the Chapel of the Annunciation at the Maryknoll Sisters Center, Maryknoll, NY.

A Memorial Mass of the Resurrection will be held on Tuesday, March 29th, 2022 at 3:00 p.m. also at the Maryknoll Sisters Center.

Due to Co-vid 19, these services will be restricted to members of the Maryknoll Sisters Community.