Sister Virgeen Healey

Sister Virgeen was born in St. Louis, MO, the second of four children (2 brothers and 1 sister) on June 27th, 1924 to Laura (Brock) Healey and Edward Healey. She graduated from St. Marks High School, St. Louis in 1943.

Sister Virgeen entered the Congregation from St. Rita’s Parish in St. Louis on September 6th, 1944 at the Maryknoll Sisters Center, Maryknoll,NY. She pronounced First Vows March 7th, 1947 at the Sisters Center and Final Vows the same date in 1950 in California.

Assigned to California she attended San Rafael College receiving a Certificate of Religious Education in 1958. Then she served primarily in the religious education ministry in Guadalupe and Stockton, CA.

Sister Virgeen received her first overseas assignment to the Philippines in 1960. Her ministries there included religion teacher, parish catechetical coordinator, assistant chaplain to seafaring workers, and program coordinator for the Philippine Agency for Community and Family (PACAF) of which she became executive director.  The PACAF staff started the community-based Playgroup Network, Inc. (PLAYNET) this network trained and supervised volunteers from low-income communities who served as teachers in pre-schools.

She returned to NY in 1971 to study at Rogers College, at the Center in NY, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Community Service in 1972.

In 1973, Sister Virgeen returned to Cateel, Philippines where her service has always focused on the needs of the spiritually and materially poor, both in the United States and in the Philippines.

Back in the States for a period of Renewal, Sister Virgeen studied Clinical Pastoral Education at St. Louis State Hospital in St. Louis, MO. In addition, she earned a Master of Arts in Religious Studies at the Maryknoll School of Theology, Maryknoll, NY in 1988.

In 1994, Sister Virgeen opened the Mindanao chapter of the PACAF in Davao City, Philippines. Community organization (leadership training) is PACAF’s main focus, but since low-income families often suffered from health problems and a lack of education and employable skills, it was difficult for families to earn enough money to provide good nutrition and education for their children. For this reason, an integrated program at PACAF was designed. The agency offered short courses in auto mechanics, computers, electronics, food processing, sewing, and other fields. A course in the construction trade implemented the concept of “Training with Production.” This project combined PACAF’s need for a larger training center with an opportunity to teach construction courses. Another program offered by the agency involved local businesses who helped train apprentices in the hotel and restaurant industries, printing trades, computer repair, and others fields.

Now, at the Sisters Center in NY, after 48 years in the Philippines, Sister Virgeen serves in the Development Department. Her work includes visiting and speaking in churches and schools sharing her experiences in mission, together with her deep appreciation and love for the people of the Philippines.

In 2020, Sister Virgeen retired.