Former Kentucky state Representative Bob Heleringer wrote a guest column that appeared on March 8, 2023, in the Courier Journal and mentioned three Ursuline Sisters of Louisville by name: Sisters Joselyn Hynes, Anthony Wargel and Rosalita Wuersch. What a nice surprise for Catholic Sisters Week!
Below is the text of the article:
Celebrating the mission of the Catholic Education Foundation
Thomas Jefferson once said in a letter to John Adams, ‘I cannot live without books.’ (Jefferson had an enormous library at Monticello.)I know the feeling. I can’t live without books either − the ones in my much-smaller library. All of my soulmates are in there including the complete set of O. Henry short stories, 30 years of the Almanac of American Politics, Alban Butler’s ‘Lives of the Saints,’ everything written by William F. Buckley, Jr., dozens of books about Abraham Lincoln, Dave Barry’s treatises on humor, my revered copies of ‘A Tree Grows in Brooklyn,’ ‘Rebecca,’ and ‘Jane Eyre’ and hundreds more including what I’m reading now, ‘The Pope At War’ by David I. Kertzer. For this lifelong pleasure, I thank my parents and the teachers in Catholic schools I attended − Our Lady of Lourdes elementary and Trinity High School. We didn’t just learn to read, of course, but also how to live a Christian life and try to make a difference in the world. The key word in that sentence is ‘try.’
Tonight, the Catholic Education Foundation convenes its annual gala at the Galt House Hotel where 1,400 people will raise $1.5 million to provide tuition assistance to 3,600 families throughout the 24-county Archdiocese of Louisville who want to attend Catholic schools but cannot otherwise afford the cost. Last year, the Foundation awarded over $7 million dollars in grants, and, for the 7th consecutive year, no applicant was turned down. There is simply no other philanthropy in Kentucky that can match this level of success, a tribute to the indefatigable drive of CEF President/Commander-in-Chief Rich Lechleiter.
Our Catholic schools are thriving
Our Catholic schools are thriving, in both religious and academic instruction, because of the exceptional quality of their faculties and principals. In gratitude for the contributions of those teachers down through the generations, I present a few who had a tremendous influence on my life.
Sister M. (Mary) Joselyn, O.S.U. (Order of St. Ursula): this nun was my first-grade teacher who kept me after school to work on my reading. As I stumbled over consonants and vowels, she was so kind and patient. How do you adequately thank someone who taught you how to read?
Sister M. Anthony, O.S.U.: she lived to be 100 and was one of my best friends and confidants. In the 6th grade, she devoted a totally unscripted hour every week to ‘current events’ and made us read and discuss the editorial page of this very newspaper. Amazingly for a nun, she also had a passion for sports and even knew what ‘second effort’ was, which she also demanded in her classroom. Sister Anthony will always be my Ghost Rider in the Sky.
Sister M. Rosalita, O.S.U.: frustrated at my ineptitude in Art (barely recognizable stick-men was my specialty), my 8th grade teacher decided to send me to the library during Art class to write term papers on American history — anything I wanted to research and write about, which was usually presidential elections or Civil War battles. My mother was astonished to see the dramatic change on my report cards: an ‘A’ in Art instead of the usual ‘D.’ Creative teachers always find a way, don’t they?
Fr. Kevin Caster: our beloved Renaissance Man at Trinity; he read Shakespeare to us every week and always left us wanting more. Later in his life, he made several humanitarian trips to Central America where he contracted the disease that hastened his ‘permanent vacation, off-planet’ as he told his parishioners at St. Albert the Great. This saintly man with the keen wit didn’t just teach the Gospel, he lived it.
Fr. C.J. Wagner: Trinity’s scholar-in-residence; his rigorous senior English classes occasionally detoured into lively discussions of his take on politics, religion, the arts, culture in America (or the lack thereof); you could joust with him but you better have some facts not just hubris; he made us THINK about something beyond girls and beer.
Mr. David Kelly: somehow Mr. Kelly — who turns 91 this year — devised a way for me to learn Algebra II. He was also Trinity’s disciplinarian – but a benevolent one. Rather than suspend me from school for my frequent attempts at stand-up comedy in every math class I had, he ‘invited’ me to entertain instead the cafeteria clean-up crew as one its members. We were both inducted into Trinity’s Hall of Fame the same year, one of us — Mr. Kelly — deservedly so.
How blessed I was to be educated by these remarkable people and a dozen more that deserve mention. The nuns and priests are mostly gone, sadly, but the dedication and traditions remain, including teaching children every day ‘that our Redeemer truly liveth.’ Here’s hoping and praying that the Catholic Education Foundation can continue to make it possible for many others to have the memories that I cherish.
Bob Heleringer is an attorney and former Kentucky state Representative. He can be reached at [email protected].