Sister Marilyn Evans of Minneapolis, MN, a Montessori Early Education specialist, believes that education is a family affair. Maybe that is why she’s just at home with elderly missioners as she has been with preschoolers.
A Maryknoll Sister for nearly 70 years, Sister Marilyn served for many years as coordinator of the Montessori Education Center at Maryknoll School, Honolulu, HI. She then took three years off to serve as a social work assistant at Maryknoll Sisters Nursing Home (now known as Maryknoll Home Care) in NY where she worked with elderly and infirm members of her congregation.
Then, in 1991, came the request from Maryknoll Bishop Quinn Weitzel, MM, to serve in America Samoa. The bishop had visited the Education Center in Hawaii and been impressed with what was being accomplished and how the students were responding. It seemed a perfect fit for the children in America Samoa, he thought, so he asked Sister Marilyn to begin a Montessori program for the school they had already set up there.
So, would begin more than 20 years of ministry which, while sometimes challenging, would bring a great deal of satisfaction and joy to Sister Marilyn’s heart. “They have such beautiful customs and culture,” she recalled while chatting with one of our staff upon her return the United States in 2013. “It was so interesting to learn their culture and meet them that way. To meet their ideals and understanding and even have them learn about our culture, as well, particularly our high respect for children.”
During her more than two decades on the Island, she not only contributed to the lives of children but also provided the specialized training necessary for anyone who wanted to teach in a Montessori school. Over time, several schools opened. At first, the Sisters ran the schools; then, finally, as is always the plan of any Maryknoll missioner, the local people were ready and released to run the schools on their own.
In 2013, Sister Marilyn returned to the Maryknoll Sisters Center in NY.