Remembering Sister Elizabeth Louise Michaels (1925-2023)

Sister Elizabeth Michaels was born Jeannette L. Michaels in Brighton, Massachusetts, to parents Fred and Elizabeth Theis Michaels. After graduating from Boston Latin School (BLS), she received a scholarship to Emmanuel College from Marie Glennon, a teacher at BLS who was one of the first graduates at Emmanuel. Sister Elizabeth earned her Bachelor of Arts in mathematics from Emmanuel in 1946 and entered the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur.

Sister Elizabeth received her Master of Arts in mathematics from Boston University and a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Notre Dame. She served on the Emmanuel College faculty for forty years, where she played a key role in developing programs in mathematics and in curriculum innovation across the College. During her teaching years at Emmanuel, she shared, “My ministry of education at Emmanuel College has involved working with the growing number of minorities and ‘new immigrants’ and also women in the continuing education department.” At Emmanuel's Commencement in 2019, she received an honorary doctoral degree in recognition of her role in preparing decades of Emmanuel students for lives of leadership and service.

Margaret McKenna ’83, Chair of the Board of Trustees, congratulates Elizabeth Michaels SNDdeN ’46 (center), on receiving her honorary doctorate from Emmanuel in 2019. Commencement Speaker and famed historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, looks on.

Knowledgeable, talented, and articulate, Sister Elizabeth also served in Province leadership. She was a member of the Notre Dame Academy, and the Hingham Board and Corporation when they constructed a new building.

From 1975-84, she served as a member of the General Government Team. One of her most challenging projects during this time was facilitating the move of congregational finances from Rome to the U.S., navigating Italian, Vatican, and American protocol along the way. She was known for her hearty laugh and good sense of humor, both of which were undoubtedly evident during this endeavor.

As she entered into her retirement years, Sister Elizabeth used her experience in education and administration to advise the Sisters in newer educational ministries, especially those committed to serving people on the margins of society. Her numerous contributions to Glimpses of God’s Goodness—weekly Gospel reflections (available on the website)—have been especially appreciated. While in residence at Notre Dame Long Term Care Center in Worcester, Massachusetts, Sister Elizabeth continued her dedication to mission through her ministry of prayer.

Some words from Wendell Berry were particularly meaningful for Sister Elizabeth and described her attitude about life:

“…Now more than ever you can be
generous toward each day
that comes….”

In 2021, Sister Elizabeth celebrated her 75th Jubilee as a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur.

Sister Elizabeth Michaels went home to her good God on December 11, 2023, at the age of 98, and after 77 years of service as a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur.

Sister Elizabeth's Ministries

1949-54 St. Mary School, Waltham, Mass.
1954-71 Emmanuel College, Boston, Mass (Professor of Mathematics)
1972  St. Augustine School, South Boston, Mass.
1973-75 Provincial Leader, Boston Province, Mass.
1975-84 SNDdeN General Council, Rome, Italy