Sister Maria Caritas, a Sister of Mercy for 61 years, was born in Belize City, Belize (British Honduras at that time). She attended St. Ignatius School and St. Catherine Academy in Belize City. On September 8, 1960, she entered the Sisters of Mercy at Mt. St. Rita Novitiate in Cumberland, Rhode Island, and made final vows on September 8, 1969, at her parish church, St. Ignatius in Belize City.
She received her B.A. from Salve Regina College, Newport, Rhode Island, in 1965; an M.Ed. in administration and supervision from Rhode Island College in 1969; and her Ph.D. in education and philosophy from Spaulding University in Louisville, Kentucky, in 2001. Sister was a 2012 recipient of the Order of the British Empire, bestowed by Queen Elizabeth II, for her lifelong and varied contributions to Belize.
Upon her return to Belize in 1968, Sister began an extensive teaching career. The following Institutions benefitted from her teaching abilities: Belize Teachers’ College; San Luis Rey School, a poor rural primary school; St. Catherine Elementary School; and St. Catherine Academy for one year, which she then served as principal for the next 13 years. In 1997, she handed the position over to the first lay principal. Afterwards, she worked with the ministry of education, to help teachers improve the quality of education. Sister also ministered at the Mt. St. Rita Health Center in Cumberland, Rhode Island, for one year.
Sister Caritas had a voice, which she used, especially if she sensed an injustice. She was greatly devoted to her students and was known for telling the young women at the Academy: “You have three strikes against you. You are poor, you are Black and you are a woman. Take advantage of this opportunity for a good education.” The poor came to her knowing they would be helped. On weekends, she ministered to the men in the prison, listening to them, preparing them for participation in the Eucharistic celebration and having choir practice.
She was a true daughter of Catherine McAuley.