Sister Elizabeth Roach

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Current Ministry Location: Maryknoll Sisters Center-Maryknoll, NY

Elizabeth V. Roach was born October 18, 1928 in Pittsburgh, PA to Catherine (Flaherty) Roach and John Francis Roach. She had 1 sister: Anna Marie and 3 brothers: Donald, James and William. Elizabeth graduated from St. John The Baptist High School, Pittsburgh in 1946.

Elizabeth entered the Maryknoll Sisters Congregation October 5, 1946 at their Center in NY. She professed First Vows April 6, 1949 at the Center and Final Vows April 6, 1953 also at the Center. Her first assignment was Lab Technician in the Motherhouse Infirmary in 1949.

Shortly after joining the Congregation in 1946, she studied at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, then Good Counsel College, in White Plains, NY, and completed an internship at Mary Immaculate Hospital in Jamaica, NY. She was certified, receiving a diploma, as a medical technologist that year, 1953, from the American Society of Clinical Pathologists.

Sister Elizabeth’s first overseas mission assignment was to Bolivia in 1955. Her training was put to good use in Riberalta, Bolivia, where she served from 1955 – 1960 in a hospital administered by Maryknoll.

In 1960, Sister Elizabeth received an assignment to Montero, Santa Cruz, Bolivia where a new school needed teachers.  She came to love teaching First Graders. Later she was transferred to Peru where she first served in Lima and Arequipa.  In Arequipa, she earned her secondary education teaching credentials, Bachelor of Science in Education, from Santa Maria University in 1970. She specialized in Biology and Chemistry and received a government appointment to teach agricultural technicians in the high Andes, at 12,500 feet above sea level. She taught Religion and Zoology in Azangaro, Puno, Peru. She also kept her hand in medical technology volunteering at the local medical clinic. In 1973, she was assigned to Ica, Peru, where she reached out to street children. There, the bishop authorized her to baptize and conduct Sunday Services in the absence of a priest. She continued teaching Religion and Art in public schools. She also received a Certificate in Ecumenism from the Ecumenical Institute, Caracas Venezuela.

It was in March 1977 that Sister Elizabeth’s talent for writing would find a home. She was assigned to the United States as supervisor and staff writer for Maryknoll Sisters Communications Office, penning many stories about the Sisters and their work around the world, for Maryknoll Magazine, as well as for many other publications throughout the United States.

In 1979, Sister received a Certificate in Communications from Loyola University, New Orleans, LA. And, in 1980 a Certificate in Natural Family Planning from Womb Chucuito Peru and in 1981, a Diploma in Radio Production from Cetuc, Lima Peru.

In 1983, Sister Elizabeth was assigned to Hawaii, where she served in the first shelter for “street people” and wrote for the Hawaii Catholic Herald until 1992 when she was assigned to Panama.

In 1997, she was assigned to the Center serving in various positions. Sister Elizabeth, focused her writing mainly on children’s books such as “Elephant Joan and the Cell Phone,” a children’s novel about an elephant who accidentally took a “selfie” with a “little black box.” The book was illustrated by Maryknoll Sister Peggy Dawson. More of Sister Elizabeth’s children’s stories can be found at her My Story Hour blog.

Sister Elizabeth has also served as a guest author on a Skype website where she has shared her stories and writing skills with children and teachers in the United States and many lands across the world from the UK to Pakistan.

In addition, she has served as the Center’s librarian, served in prison ministry at Sing Sing Prison, taught writing and was a member of the staff in the Promotion Office.