Sister Mary Louise (Mary Lou) Higa was born in Maui, Hawaii of Okinawan Buddhist parents and grew up in a family of ten children. In grade school, Mary Lou, and other Buddhist children attended the Catholic released time classes just to avoid yard duty! When WWII broke out she went to Oahu for the summer and experienced the Catholic Church with her sister. Mary Lou was baptized three months before graduating from Maui High School. She graduated as an R.N. from St. Francis Hospital School of Nursing before joining Maryknoll in 1951.
In 1954, Sister Mary Lou had the privilege of nursing Mother Mary Joseph Rogers, Founder of the Maryknoll Sisters. After Mother Mary Joseph’s death in 1955, she 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, she went to Hong Kong and had her first home visit in thirteen years. She worked 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.” In 1991 she went to Hawaii, worked with a family service agency and prison ministry. She currently resides at the Maryknoll Sisters Center where she is a member of its Chi Rho Community.