Sister Kathleen Reiley
Current Ministry Location – Japan
Kathleen Reiley was born in Pottsville, PA, to Cecilia (Dewey) Reiley and Edmund A. Reiley, the youngest of six children. She had 3 brothers: Rev. Fr. Robert, MM, John and Edward and 2 sisters: Eleanor and Sr. Cecile, SSJ. After graduating from Nativity BVM High School in 1962, she enrolled for a year at Georgetown School of Nursing in Washington, D.C.
Kathleen entered the Maryknoll Sisters Congregation September 2, 1963 at the Sisters’ Center in NY. She pronounced First Vows June 24, 1966 at the Center and Final Vows June 24, 1969 also at the Center.
Sister Kathleen’s first mission assignment was to Japan and the next year she began to practice Zazen with Yamada Koun Roshi in Kamakura, Japan. She was a full time student from 1965-1970. From 1970-‘72 she was a pastoral worker, Parish Minister, in Muroran Hokkaido. She graduated with a BA in Far East Area Studies from Sophia University in Tokyo.
Returning to the United States in 1978, she did mission education and promotion until 1981 when she returned to Japan. Along with her teaching among children and women, Sister Kathleen became involved in a hostel for abandoned children and worked in ministry with alcoholics and day laborers. These day laborers worked hard but benefited least from Japan’s economic strength, and Sister Kathleen remarked, “I have learned a great deal working among the marginated people in Yokahama.”
From 1986-1988, Sister Kathleen earned her M.A. at Maryknoll School of Theology, Maryknoll, NY. This was followed by a 15-month course program in Clinical Pastoral Education at Penn State University Hospital in Hershey, PA. In 1989, Sister Kathleen began work as a volunteer counselor in the children’s ward of the National Cancer Center Hospital in Tokyo, her current ministry. The following year, Sister Kathleen helped start Family House in Japan for families of children with cancer. It is similar to the Ronald McDonald House in America. In 1991, Sister Kathleen was given permission to help guide others in Zen practice. She also began leading retreats at Zen Christian Zendo in Tokyo and in Munich, Germany, an activity she continues today.
Sister Kathleen was asked to join the Catholic Tokyo Volunteers, whose main responsibility is ministering to the people of Fukushima, Japan. They had to evacuate after the March 2011 tsunami destroyed the nuclear power plant there, spewing radiation into the environment. It is good Sister Kathleen had a background in counseling child cancer victims. She continues to serve in Japan.