Jubilarian - 65 years
Sr. Margaret Lois Houlihan
Margaret Lois Houlihan was born in Detroit, Michigan, one of eight children. Before entering the convent, she held jobs such as: clerk and cashier in Department Stores, Warehouse work, Dress Shop, Traffic Court office work, Western Electric Co., and student organist at her parish church.
In March, 1947, Sr. Ruth of the Bl. Sacrament and Sr. Gistilian came on a Vocation trip to the High Schools of Detroit. When they returned to 45th St., Lois went with them. Sr. Ruth needed a companion to go to Fruit Hill, so Lois was made a postulant and traveled with her on the train. She was engaged in book-binding for several years. After her final profession in 1952, she operated the Linotype, did Catechetical work in several parishes, and became Music Director and Organist. She was sent to San Francisco in 1954. Her ministries included Sacristan, Organist, and teaching Catechetics in various locations. In 1957, she was sent to Bell St. where she was Sacristan, organist, and taught Montessori with Sr. Isabella for three years. Then she was sent to Fruit Hill, where she served as Sub-mistress for seven years.
After 21 years of religious life, she was sent to Manhattanville College in Purchase, N.Y., where she obtained her Bachelor of Sacred Music degree. In 1970, she was assigned to Espirito Santo School, as an elementary school teacher. Here, she also taught adults at Evening School, and obtained her C.N.A. at St. Anne's Hospital. She had always wanted to be a nurse, and was so happy to work after school, week-ends, and holidays.
She received her obedience for Goa, India in 1971. After a stay of four months in Rome, a permanent visa to India was refused, and she then received an obedience for Ghana, West Africa. However, upon landing in Liberia, her destination was again changed, and she remained in Monrovia. During her three years there, she taught music in three high schools, led the choir at the Cathedral, was Music Professor at the University of Liberia, and Directress of the University Choir; she also co-founded an elementary school for the Kru people. In 1974, she went to Ghana, and obtained a Master's in African Music, African Art, and African Political and Social Systems. In 1976, she taught music in St. John Bosco Teacher-Specialist Training College, and was Assistant Chaplain for the campus. In 1979, she moved to Kumasi, central Ghana, where she co-founded the Outreach Chaplaincy Team for boarding schools, Colleges and Vocational Schools.
She was sent to the U.S. in 1983. After a renewal in Montreal, and in Queens, N.Y., she began a ministry with the Homeless in N.Y. She coordinated the Brooklyn branch of the Partnership for the Homeless for five years. During this time she was asked to organize the Province Archives, commuting to the Bronx some evenings. She began courses other evenings at Fordham, Lincoln Center to fill in needed psychology credits, which was in preparation for a degree and fellowship, as Imagery and Music Therapist. She obtained certification from the Institute for Music-Centered Psychotherapy in Atlanta. She was sent to Tampa, Florida in 1991, and used this skill at Francis House with men and women suffering from AIDS, and also with returned missionaries and elderly at Rocky Creek Village. After 6 years in Tampa, she was sent to Fruit Hill where she served for 5 years at St. Mary's Home for Children, and at St. Francis Wellness Center for the poor, for 2 years. She became Librarian at Fruit Hill in 2000, and also started a ‘Shopping System’ to serve shut-in Sisters. Among the many great joys and memories of her life were: spending days in Assisi being in the same places and walking the same roads where St. Francis lived and ministered; having her University of Liberia Choir chosen as 1 of 12 choirs throughout the world, to participate in the International Music Festival at Lincoln Center in 1974; experiencing hunger, lack of water, violence and several close calls in military coups in Ghana; serving with Churches of all faiths and Synagogues to obtain volunteers for her ministry to the homeless; experiencing God actually taking over, and working through her as she gave therapy sessions.
Lois thanks God for her life as it has been, with all of the failures and successes, and for the ageing time she is in right now. She accepts all and says, "For all that has been. Yes; for all that will be. Yes."