Sister Mary Louise (Mary Lou) was born on April 24th, 1927 in Kaupakalua, Maui, Hawaii to Okinawan Buddhist parents, Kame (Miyashiro) Higa and Ushi Higa. Sister Mary Lou grew up in a family of ten children: 7 sisters and 2 brothers. When WWII broke out she went to Oahu for the summer and experienced the Catholic Church with her sister. Sister Mary Lou was baptized three months before graduating from Maui High School in 1945. She graduated as an R.N. from St. Francis Hospital School of Nursing in 1949.
Sister Mary Lou entered the Congregation at the Maryknoll Sisters Novitiate in Valley Park, MO February 1st, 1951. She pronounced First Vows September 8th, 1953 in Valley Park and Final Vows the same day in Ceylon.
Soon after arriving at the Maryknoll Sisters Center in NY In 1954, Sister Mary Lou had the privilege of nursing Mother Mary Joseph Rogers, Foundress of the Maryknoll Sisters. After Mother Mary Joseph’s death in 1955, Sister Mary Lou was assigned to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), and because she was an emergency replacement for another Sister, she couldn’t stop for a visit home. She worked as nurse supervisor in the government hospital and helped to open a clinic and a maternity nursing home until the country expelled foreigners.
In 1964, Sister Mary Lou was assigned to Hong Kong. During this time, she had her first home visit. In Hong Kong she nursed in Our Lady of Maryknoll Hospital serving mainly Chinese refugees from the mainland. She was a founding member of the Community Nursing Service and helped establish Pastoral Ministry. “It was the most enriching part of my life. It helped me touch my own life as I saw sick people going through suffering and pain coming to terms with themselves and God.” While assigned to Hong Kong, in 1963, Sister Mary Lou attended a course in Midwifery at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, Ireland
In 1977, Sister Mary Lou earned a Bachelor of Science in General Studies at Chaminade College in Honolulu. In 1991, she worked at Hawaii Interfaith Ministry in Honolulu in Clinical Pastoral Education with a family service agency and did prison ministry.
Sister Mary Lou currently is retired at the Maryknoll Sisters Center in Maryknoll, NY.