Sister Miriam Terese Sheehan

Sister Miriam Terese SheehanSister Miriam Terese was born in Fair Play, Wisconsin, and baptized at St. Joseph Church in Hazel Green, in the southwest corner of the state on the Iowa border. Sister Miriam Terese loved her baptismal name, Rosemary Frances. She said that her parents’ wise choice befitted her later Franciscan lifestyle since Frances is the feminine name for Francis!

As her life was evolving gradually, she announced to her parents her desire to enter the School Sisters of St. Francis in Milwaukee and become a nurse. Her mother had been an exceptional and well-respected teacher, and her response to Rosemary’s announcement was, “Are you sure that you don’t want to become a teacher?”  Her answer was, “Oh no, mom and dad, I feel that I want to become a Registered Nurse.” Some 27 years later, she became a nursing educator, teaching for ten years in both clinical and classroom settings. Her mother’s delight was immeasurable!  

The principal of her school, Sister Zita Wiebelhaus, was a bright star in her early goal setting in life. On one occasion Rosemary said to her, “Sister Zita, if I thought I could become half the person you are someday, I’d check into joining your order.” Sister Zita gave her one of her hearty laughs, adding, “So Rosemary, you think I’m okay?” Rosemary’s affirmation of her rested in her caring soul and beamed to Rosemary through her diamond bright eyes.

At age 17, Rosemary was received into the order. Symbolic of her call to the new lifestyle, her name was changed to Sister Miriam Terese. Gradually she became known as Sister Miriam. She noted that the root of her name – “Mir” – means “peace” in many Slavic languages, and thus: Mir-i-am = Peace-I-am. Sister Miriam said that her name is perhaps the seed of her advocacy approaches to life’s calls to take a stand on issues affecting the many!

In addition to Sister Zita, Mother Teresa of Calcutta was a prime mover in Sister Miriam’s life. She loves this quote from Mother Teresa: “Any act of love, no matter how small, is an act of peace!”

Sister Miriam spent 37 years in acute care hospital ministry, the last 15 caring for persons experiencing prolonged therapy and sometimes dying after sustaining severe burn injuries and cancer. She realized that she wanted to step back because it had become too much. She was then catapulted into the study and experience of the Eastern spiritual traditions and complementary health care. First, she became a massage therapist and then a certified holistic health educator. Next, she completed eight programs in esoteric healing and phases one and two in therapeutic touch. She is a certified Reiki Master and she has completed four levels of Spring Forest Qi-gong and two Spring Forest Qi-gong retreats with Master Chung Lin.

Several years before learning Qi-gong, she recognized in herself the symptoms of chronic lymphocytic leukemia. She immediately enlisted healing modalities. After several months, she recognized levels of improvement, and had it confirmed by an oncologist with the understanding that she would continue her own healing approach and chose not to do chemotherapy. After that, she was completely healed. (However, she stresses that each person should always discuss their medical options with their doctor.)

When Sister Miriam wrote her life story several years ago, she ended with these thoughts:

“We understand that there is no justice without love! As our efforts in peace and justice and in our generous response to life proceed, I invite each of you to buy into creating your ‘living the life you love story.’

“John Powell reminds us that we need to think of ourselves as gifts to be given and to think of others as gifts offered to us.

                                    The root of my name then is LOVE/PEACE

                                            Starting from the beginning:


                                                   (LOVE/PEACE- I AM)

                                             Starting from the ending:

                                                     I-AM- LOVE/PEACE

                           I LOVE MY NAME AND MY LIFE THAT FLOWS FROM IT!”

Sister Miriam is happy to be celebrating her 80th Jubilee. Love and peace shine through her smile, especially as she enjoys singing at Our Lady of the Angels!