Sister Shirley Ann (Mary Joanella) Simmons

Sister Shirley Ann Simmons

1942 – 80 years

The oldest of four children, Sister Shirley Ann was born in 1924 in Heartwell, Nebraska, to Niles and Ella Simmons. The family moved to Sutherland, Nebraska, when Shirley Ann was in grade school. Her father was a farmer who raised corn and cattle. She first encountered the Ursuline Sisters of Louisville at her home parish, Holy Family Church, when she attended catechism class in the summer for two weeks. Sister Shirley Ann says that the parish priest got the Ursulines to come from St. Patrick parish, in North Platte, to teach.

Shirley Ann loved going to school, did very well and participated in the county spelling contests annually. She attended public school until high school, then went to St. Patrick High School, in North Platte, where she was taught by Ursulines. The high school was 30 miles from home, so she recalls that, “I stayed with a nice family. They had two children and since St. Patrick was K-12, I helped their little girl get to and from school.”

Shirley Ann received a four-year scholarship to Ursuline College, in Louisville, which her parents encouraged her to accept. She wasn’t fond of going so far from home for college, as her original plan was to attend Kearney State Teacher’s College, in Nebraska, and become a teacher as her mother had been. But it was during the World War II era and money was tight, so she didn’t think it very wise to give up the opportunity of using the scholarship.

During her freshman year of college, she felt called to become a Catholic Sister, so in January of 1942 she entered the Ursuline community in Louisville. Sister recalls one incident as a postulant, where “there was a plate of cookies that somehow ended up in our area. When Sister Sylvester Ahlhaus, who oversaw the postulants, returned to the room, the cookies were gone!” she says, laughing. “We were just young kids and couldn’t resist those cookies!”
Sister Shirley Ann began her 55-year teaching career in 1944 at St. Boniface parish school, Louisville, and then taught at Catholic schools in Cumberland, Maryland, returning to St. Boniface in 1954. In 1957, she was sent west to Nebraska. While teaching at Blessed Sacrament School, in Omaha, and attending graduate classes, Sister received a master’s degree from Creighton University.

Sister also served at St. Elizabeth (principal and superior) and Our Lady of Lourdes, both in Louisville. She returned to Nebraska where she once again ministered at Blessed Sacrament, and then served as principal at St. Patrick’s school and McDaid Elementary, in North Platte, and was principal for 25 years at St. Luke parish school, in Ogallala, where Sister Loretta Krajewski followed her as principal of the school.

After retiring from teaching, Sister Shirley Ann decided to serve in ministry at St. Luke parish (1999-2012.) She says that, “When it came to the point that I thought I should get out of teaching, I thought I was still good for something, so I thought I could serve in the parish.” She served as eucharistic minister, and visited shut-ins, the sick and those in nursing homes. She also served on the parish council, did bereavement ministry and worked with the RCIA program.
In 2012, Sister Shirley Ann returned to Louisville, where she volunteered in the Ursuline archives and at United Crescent Hill Ministries. Today, she ministers through her prayer and presence at Nazareth Home-Clifton. At 97-years-young, Sister Shirley Ann says she has no health issues and reads “anything I can get my hands on!” Sister says that she has loved all her 80 years of being an Ursuline Sister of Louisville.


Sister Antonine BivenSister Antonine Biven

1947 – 75 years

Sister Antonine Biven, known to her family as Mildred Louise, was born and raised in the west end of Louisville. She was educated by Ursuline Sisters at St. George grade school, Ursuline Academy and Ursuline College. As a child, she studied piano. In eighth grade and into high school, she was encouraged to learn the E-flat saxophone so she could play in her school bands.

Her senior year, Ursuline Academy classmates pooled their money to rent Memorial Auditorium so she could give a piano concert. She memorized and performed seven difficult pieces for the event! Other students learned one piece each to perform in between her performances. On a bus ride home, someone sitting nearby noticed her sheet music and asked, “Do you play?” Mildred Louise answered, “A little.”

As a postulant, she played pop songs for her classmates. The mother superior did not approve. Sister Antonine recalls, “[Sister] Bernadine Nash watched at the door. When she heard Mother coming, she’d signal, and I’d start playing ‘Mother at Your Feet Kneeling.’ ”

Sister Antonine attributes her calling to Sister Mary Laurentia Foley and her own mother, Lillian Elizabeth Biven. In her early years as a Sister, she was reassigned after short periods. “I thought they were bringing me back to reform me,” laughed Sister Antonine, recalling the story. “But I didn’t ask, ‘Why?’ ” When she was called to return to Louisville after five years teaching music in Jackson, Mississippi, the pastor drove all the way to Louisville to ask the Sisters to reconsider. “They did not,” recalled Sister Antonine. Later, she learned the shortened assignments were due to her talents as a teacher. She was needed elsewhere and often reassigned.

Sister Antonine earned two master’s degrees: one in music from Notre Dame University and a second in religious education from Loyola University New Orleans. Sister Antonine served parishes in Louisville, Columbia, South Carolina, and Jackson, Mississippi, as a music teacher, band leader and arranger of operettas for students to perform. In Louisville, she also served as music director for St. Helen and Our Lady of Lourdes parishes.

Sister Antonine taught and inspired hundreds of students over the years and mentored many of the Ursuline community’s novices. She also served her community on three different Leadership Teams.

St. Mary Catholic Church, in Maryville, Kentucky, where she and Sister Anne Mary Lochner served together for 11 years, was her favorite assignment. “I used ALL my talents there,” said Sister Antonine. “We did prayer services, family ministry and religious education.” Many from the parish have stayed in touch with her over the years, sending photos and news. Professional musician Bruce Mattingly, of New York City, attributes his success to Sister Antonine.

When Catholic churches in Louisville began to renovate according to the new rite of architecture, Sister Antonine was asked to help by talking with parishioners about their concerns. “I listened with an understanding heart,” smiled Sister Antonine. “For many, this was very difficult and emotional.”

Sister Antonine was also treasurer of the community’s former “Hospitality House” for women who were discerning a vocation to religious life. She now serves the community as an apostolate of prayer. She enjoys talking with the service people who pick up their trash, bring the mail, or deliver packages from Amazon. She knows each of them by name, including those who fill in for them while the regulars are out. Her mission in life is to “act justly, love tenderly and walk humbly with God.” Mi 6:8


Sister Loretta GuentherSister Loretta Guenther

1952 – 70 years

Sister Loretta Guenther is celebrating her 70th jubilee as an Ursuline Sister of Louisville. Born during the Great Depression to Albert and Wilhelmina Guenther, Sister Loretta was baptized Wilhelmina Pauline at the hospital by her parish priest, as she was believed to be close to death as a newborn. As soon as she was baptized, her purple lips and toes turned a healthy pink and she began breathing normally. This was the first of several miraculous events in Sister Loretta’s life that she attributes to God.

The second youngest of 11 children, Sister Loretta went to St. Elizabeth parish school, where she had Ursulines as teachers. Her favorite Ursuline was Sister Urban Boch. She loved Sister Urban so much, she would routinely go to school on Saturday to assist her with chores. Sister Loretta laughs, recalling her mother telling her, “Honey, school is closed!”

In eighth grade, Wilma, as her family called her, told her parents she wanted to become a nun and enter as an aspirant for high school. She was somewhat frail as a child, and her father objected since aspirants lived out of state at the time. Wilma prayed to the Blessed Mother for help, and lo and behold, the aspirant program had moved to Louisville! Her father gave in and let her join. Wilma moved onto the Ursuline campus and attended Sacred Heart Academy for high school. Her vocations mistress was Sister Theodolinda Obermeier, and Sister Loretta says, “She was wonderful to me!”

Sister Loretta is very devoted to the Blessed Mother and says Mary has appeared to her several times—during grade school while she was in church, during illnesses, in times of need, and while in prayer. She says, “She is so beautiful, I pray that I see her again.”

After helping for a brief stint at St. Joseph Children’s Home in Louisville, Sister Loretta decided that was her calling—to work with children. However, she was assigned to work as a cook for many years, making meals at several schools, including Sacred Heart Academy, St. Raphael and St. Anthony. She also worked in the Ursuline Motherhouse infirmary kitchen.

Finally, in 1974, encouraged by Sister Annette Rutledge, who was at St. Joseph’s for 40 years, Sister Loretta wrote a letter to her superiors to explain why she wanted to minister at the home. Her efforts paid off and she was asked to serve as a house parent for a group of boys. Sister Loretta said that at first she was nervous about taking care of boys, “but after just a little time, they were my joy.”

Working at St. Joseph’s must truly have been her calling, because Sister Loretta stayed there 36 years! Sister Loretta says, “I have always loved children.” The feeling must have been mutual, because many of her former charges, now grown men with families of their own, stay in touch with her and call her “Mom.” Sister Loretta was the last Ursuline Sister to work at St. Joseph Children’s Home, retiring in 2010. She was recognized by St. Joseph’s in 2000 with the St. Joseph-Ursuline Award for her “dedication and hard work, which has exemplified outstanding service to children and youth.” In 2002 St. Joseph’s again honored her with a fund established in her name, The Sister Loretta Guenther Educational Fund, to meet the educational needs of the children at the home.

Today, Sister Loretta ministers in prayer and presence at Nazareth Home-Clifton where she resides. With a big smile on her face, Sister Loretta says, “God is first! Then Mary. God and Mary love me so much, and I love them.” Amen, Sister Loretta, Amen.


Sister Mary Jo (Joseph Marian) GramigSister Mary Jo Gramig

1962 – 60 years

Sister Mary Jo (Joseph Marian) Gramig, a Louisville native, is celebrating her 60th jubilee. The second of four girls, Sister Mary Jo says, “I grew up in a faith-filled Catholic family, where our lives intertwined with our parish school and church.” The Ursuline Sisters of Louisville taught her at both Holy Spirit and Sacred Heart Academy. Sister Mary Jo remembers, “Dorothy Hulsewede (Sister Carl Marie) was a close family friend who encouraged me to discern my own vocation.” That vocation started in second grade. On a class trip to Bardstown, while visiting a church, Mary Jo prayed that she might become a religious sister if that was what God wanted. She didn’t express this calling she felt until high school, but it stayed in her heart over those growing-up years. Sister Carl Marie must have seen that in young Mary Jo.

Entering right before Vatican II, Sister Mary Jo remembers that, “There were larger classes of women then, and it was good to be a part of a bigger group of people who were answering the call to religious life. We attended monthly spiritual conferences at Bellarmine and had scripture scholars give talks to Sisters on the college’s campus. There was a lot of activity and opportunities for learning at that time.” Sister Mary Jo has a bachelor’s degree in education from Ursuline College (1968) as well as master’s degrees from Xavier University (Montessori education) and Spalding University (religious studies). She started her teaching career in primary grades at St. Rita, Holy Trinity and Sacred Heart Model schools, before being asked if she’d be interested in being a Montessori teacher. She took classes at Xavier and “fell in love with the Montessori Method, where children learn in a prepared environment of specially designed sensorial materials, a way of learning which engages all their natural abilities and senses for learning. From 1970 to 1977, I was privileged to work with Sr. Marlene Oetken, founder of the Ursuline Montessori School, a Model teacher and wonderful mentor.”

Sister Mary Jo then taught religion at several parish schools in Louisville. Her last full-time ministry position was with St. Frances of Rome as director of Family Religious Formation (1995-2018). Sister Mary Jo says, “The focus was always on family formation, not just the children. I have a firm belief that it is within the home that the child truly learns the way of faith, prayer and a personal relationship with God. I am forever grateful for the many families and staff I have served and come to know as lifelong friends.”

In the fall of 2018, Sister Mary Jo began volunteering as a helper in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGS) program, a Montessori based catechetical program for children 3-6 years old at St. Louis Bertrand Church. The director, Leslie Genius, and Sister Mary Jo now teach the program to Sacred Heart preschool and K-2 students two full days each week. Children in CGS interact with child-size liturgical materials, including altars, chalices, cloths and rosaries, and they practice pouring water and “wine” into vessels. They learn other aspects of Catholic teaching, such as care for creation by holding plants and watering them. Sister Mary Jo says, “Time and again I have been touched by the children’s responses and how they come to know Jesus as someone who really lived and walked on the earth and is very personal to them now…someone they talk to and listen to in the quiet.”

By her presence and ministry, Sister Mary Jo has truly been a role model to her students by helping them listen to that “small still voice” in following their own paths that lead them closer to God.


Sister Agnes CoveneySr Agnes Coveney

1982 – 40 years

Born in Chicago, Sister Agnes Coveney and her twin sister, Eileen, were number four and five in the middle of eight children born to Eugene and Mary Alice Coveney. The family moved to Dayton, Ohio, where she was educated by Precious Blood Sisters, and then to Columbus, Indiana, where she was taught by the Beech Grove Benedictines. After earning her bachelor of science degree in clinical dietetics at Purdue University, she moved to Louisville to live with Eileen, who was working as a nurse.

Sister Agnes Coveney’s path to becoming an Ursuline Sister of Louisville 40 years ago was that of a serendipitous encounter with them after college. In 1980, Agnes found a job at Humana Hospital-Suburban, and she and Eileen lived in an apartment in the Crescent Hill neighborhood near St. Joseph Children’s Home. While out on an afternoon stroll one day, she saw two Ursuline Sisters in habit watching over children from the home at play in a field behind the orphanage. She introduced herself to the two nuns, Sisters Alodia Thomas and Nunilo Thomas (both blood sisters), and thus began a wonderful friendship.

Agnes started coming to the field a few times a week to see the Sisters and the children. Slowly, the idea of becoming a religious sister took hold. Sister Agnes said, “These two Ursulines, so genuine and wise, were the ones who encouraged the spark of the vocation call in me, and that’s how I met and joined the Ursulines.”

Sister Agnes also adds, “I wasn’t taught by Ursulines in school, but I was certainly taught by them in my 40 years of Ursuline vowed life! I grew in my sense of being a thinking woman in the Church and in my understanding of the many justice issues that afflict the people of this world and that put in peril God’s creation, our common home, the earth.”

A post-Vatican II postulancy and novitiate were different from what most of the older Ursulines had experienced. There were four in her novitiate class and Sister Agnes says, “I always enjoyed the classes and the experience of being among other novices and congregations in the inter-community novitiate that was held in Cincinnati at the Sisters of Charity’s Motherhouse.”

Sister Agnes says that “I’ve worked in health care in one way or another. First, it was as a clinical dietitian at Suburban Hospital and St. Anthony Hospital here in Louisville. Then, I was encouraged by Sr. Angelice Seibert to pursue a graduate degree. I thank the congregation for their support and patience. Their prayers helped me earn that doctorate in health care ethics in 1997 from Loyola University Chicago.” After that, Sister Agnes served in roles that combined mission integration, ethics and outreach in hospitals in Iowa (a Mercy hospital) and Cincinnati (a system with hospitals founded by Methodist Deaconesses and the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati). She speaks with enthusiasm about her years in hospitals and the dedication that the staffs she worked with had for the mission of the organization.

Sister Agnes served on the leadership team of the Ursuline Sisters of Louisville from 2014-2020 and is on the current leadership team. Sister Agnes reflects, “It is rewarding to serve the congregation this way. I am always touched, heart and soul, by the genuine love and faith and life-long witness of service that my Ursuline Sisters give to me, to the Ursuline family, and to the wider community.”

The Ursuline Sisters are very blessed to have Sister Agnes’ quiet, thoughtful presence among them.

Sister Theresa (Stanislaus) Kruml

2021 Jubilarian Sr Theresa Kruml

1951 – 70 years

Sister Theresa Kruml says, “A listening heart, joyful spirit and trust in God’s divine mercy have helped me to accept life’s daily crosses as I have attempted to grow in God’s love. All my life it has been my goal to serve God with a more loving heart.” 

The second of five children, she knew in third grade that she wanted to become a religious sister. The question was: which order? A native of Ord, Nebraska, she was attending St. Patrick’s Academy in Sidney, Nebraska, as a boarder where she met the Ursuline Sisters of Louisville. She entered the community at age 16, finishing up her schooling at Sacred Heart Academy in Louisville. Her sister, Georgia Jean, is also a Louisville Ursuline Sister. 

Sister Theresa taught for 33 years in schools in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Indiana and Nebraska. After retiring from teaching, she studied clinical pastoral education and earned certification as a Catholic hospital chaplain. Sister was in ministry at Methodist Medical Center in Peoria, Illinois, for nearly seven years, then moved to Iowa City, Iowa, in 1994 to serve as chaplain at Mercy Iowa City Hospital. Sister Theresa says, “I loved teaching, and that gave me skills that prepared me for the next big change, which was hospital chaplaincy, hospice ministry, and now, my volunteer work at Saint Wenceslaus Parish.” 

Sister Theresa tells a humorous story from her teaching days—an eighth grade boy was misbehaving one day. Sister recalls that,“I told him, ‘I am so upset with you. I am not going to punish you right now, but you come back tomorrow and tell me what punishment you think you deserve.’ I then went home and forgot all about it. The next day he came in and was a little angel. And the next. Finally, on the third day he said, ‘Sister, when are you going to punish me? I can’t stand all this waiting!’” 

Sister said the hospital always liked to have her in the emergency room as she had a calming presence. She sat with a woman one day at the hospital whose heart was out of rhythm. Sister spoke with her, prayed with her, and her heart went back to beating normally! Sister Theresa reflects, “That’s God’s grace working. What I have learned in my spiritual life is to always smile. Always receive people and be as kind as you can. That makes them free to open up, and they don’t have to be afraid.” 

COVID-19 has, of course, created many obstacles in Sister’s current ministries, one of which is visiting the homebound elderly and those in nursing homes. She had been visiting a 108-year-old woman at a local nursing home, but is unable to do so right now, so the woman and Sister Theresa call each other to check in. 

Sister Theresa also sews baptism blankets for all the babies in the parish and sews dresses and shorts for needy children overseas. Sister says, “When you sew, you offer up every stitch for the person for whom you are sewing, asking for God’s love. That has been the process through my life—thinking of souls and asking God to bless them.” 

In reflecting on her decades of being an Ursuline, the thing that is so important to her is living her four vows and being part of a family, with all the individual personalities and members on the same journey. Sister says, “I have always felt we belong together—like Saint Angela says, ‘Be of one will.’ We have a common end goal.” 


Sister Maria Goretti Lovett2021 Jubilarian Sr. Maria Goretti Lovett

1951 – 70 years

Sister Maria Goretti Lovett, a native of Columbia, South Carolina, is celebrating her 70th jubilee. She taught for 60 years at Catholic grade schools in Louisville, Morgantown, West Virginia, and in Columbia. Sister Maria recalls, “I was the seventh child in a family with eight children, and my dad was the seventh child also, as was his father. We called ourselves the ‘Lucky Seven.’ Perhaps being a ‘Lucky Seven’ was the reason I was privileged to attend Saint Peter’s in Columbia.” 

Sister says, “I guess that really was the beginning of my vocation, because from the very first day of school, I fell in love with the Sisters. I made up every excuse to stay after school to help them in any way I could. After many late arrivals home, my mother would say, ‘Maybe you should take your bed and stay there with the Sisters!’” Sister Maria kept the secret of wanting to become an Ursuline for many years and says no one would have believed her anyway as she was truly the toughest “tomboy” in school—playing football, basketball, climbing trees and fishing. 

When Sister Maria finally told her parents two weeks before graduating from Ursuline High School, they gave her their blessing. Her father was quick to add, “Hon, I’ll give you a week there and they will ship you back when they see how boisterous you are!” 

Sister Maria’s last teaching assignment was at St. Joseph Catholic School in Columbia, where she taught for 41 years and was known as the kickball queen. She pitched kickball every school day at recess, except for when it rained—then she would invent a game or pull out musical instruments. 

Sister loves singing and says, “I had three words painted on my classroom walls: SING, SMILE, and LOVE. I believe that singing hymns is like praying twice. I think it makes a room brighter if you enter smiling. And love is the greatest of all gifts of the Holy Spirit. Without love, there is nothing. I taught my first graders all three words. I wanted them to know that they are loved, and God put them here to love others.” 

Another talent Sister Maria had was the ability to pull a child’s tooth. Students would come from every grade to have Sister pull their teeth because, as one student put it, “It doesn’t hurt when Sister does it!” 

Sister Maria’s philosophy of teaching was that one must teach the WHOLE child. She said, “All children are unique individuals. I try to nurture the student’s growth in spirit, as well as knowledge.” She says the most rewarding part of her career has been teaching generations, including grandchildren of her former classmates. “It is a blessing to have a positive effect on a student who will grow up and teach his own children something that you taught him,” Sister says. Indeed, Sister Maria has literally taught thousands of students and touched even more lives throughout her ministry. 

Sister Maria was NOT shipped back home after her first week of entering the Ursulines, as her beloved father had predicted, and says that she can truthfully say that she loved every minute of teaching as an Ursuline Sister. She says, “I thank God for the many gifts he has given me, the greatest being my vocation.” 


Sister Mary Cabrini Hatley

1961 – 60 years

Sister Mary Cabrini Hatley, a Louisville native, entered the Ursulines two years after her high school graduation from Holy Rosary Academy. Sister Cabrini received her bachelor’s in education from Ursuline College and her master’s in library science from Spalding College. Sister Cabrini has taught and served as a librarian at multiple Catholic schools, including Angela Merici High and the Ursuline Montessori Child Development Center. She also taught in Bardstown, Kentucky, Indiana and Nebraska, and served as assistant archivist for the Ursuline Sisters from 2006-2018. 

Sister Cabrini says that, “In every ministry I have found people and circumstances that have influenced the person I am, and I am eternally grateful that they were a part of my journey. Three things that have been formative in my ministry were my teaching at All Saints Preparatory Academy where I was introduced to the African-American community; my membership at Saint William Church that has made me aware and involved in social justice issues; and my work in the Ursulines’ archives which gave me an opportunity to delve into the history of our community. As an Ursuline, I have been privileged to know, in a personal way, Saint Angela and a host of her daughters who have lived in her spirit over the centuries.” 

Recalling a moment that she will never forget, Sister Cabrini said that when she was teaching out west, “I had a little boy who had difficulty staying in one place, and one day he had stepped on my last nerve. He looked right at me and said, ‘What would you do if I wasn’t here?’ It made such an impression on me, that even now when I am having difficulty with someone, I ask myself, ‘What would I do if they weren’t here?’” 

Of her years as a novice in the 1960s, Sister Cabrini says, “I had no idea of how far we would have traveled from the 1960s; from where we were to where we are now. We have moved from a monastic emphasis to a more apostolic community. We are trying to live according to Angela’s charism and the way Vatican II has revealed to us. I never could have imagined all the changes we went through as a community.” 

Sister Cabrini looks back with fondness at her time spent at All Saints Preparatory Academy, which was housed at Christ the King parish in Louisville’s west end. All Saints was formed in 1989 from the parishes of St. Peter Claver, Immaculate Heart of Mary, Christ the King, St. Columba, St. Martin De Porres and St. Augustine. Sister Cabrini was at the school from its opening until it closed in 1996. She was hired as librarian, served as assistant principal, as first grade teacher and taught religion. 

Sister Cabrini is very active at her home parish of Saint William, where she has served as worship ministry representative on the community ministries circle, which is the leadership group of the parish. She has also been on the liturgy planning team, where her knowledge of scripture was very valuable, according to Nancy Fox, chair of the worship ministry. 

Dawn Dones, pastoral associate at Saint William, says that, “Sister Cabrini is kind. She is thoughtful. She generously offers her time and energy to make connections, deepen spirituality, and strengthen commitments to peace and justice. She does not hesitate to ask for help and, in doing so, she empowers others to share their gifts. She is a conscientious thinker and a woman of deep faith. Guided by her community’s charism, Sister Cabrini inspires all of us fortunate enough to know her to live our lives with purpose and hope.” 


Sister Anne Mary Lochner2021 Jubilarian Sr. Anne Mary Lochner

1961 – 60 years

In reflecting on her many ministries over the years, Sister Anne Mary Lochner, a Louisville native, says, “I am formed by my ministries and those who shared them with me, and also my family. I am also shaped by the Gospels and Angela.” The oldest of three children with two younger brothers, she went to St. Helen’s parish school through eighth grade and then on to Sacred Heart Academy for high school. 

Sister Anne Mary recalls that, “I had thoughts off and on of becoming an Ursuline Sister throughout grade school— being around the Sisters made me look at them and think, ‘I’d like to do that.’” In high school, it went on the back burner, then when graduation came, there it was again. She says, “As a young girl, when I look back on the call, there was something there that I knew I had to do.” During high school, she had been babysitting for a family that had eight children at the time (later expanded to twelve children), and when she informed the mother, Ann, that she wouldn’t be babysitting anymore as she was entering the convent, Ann looked her right in the eye and said, “I knew my eight kids would drive you to the convent!” She is still living and still says that to Sister Anne Mary! 

Sister Anne Mary says that each ministry built on the other, and gave her the skills to move into the next one. She has loved the wide variety of experiences that she has had, beginning with teaching. She then worked in parish ministry for 15 years and said that the parishioners taught her LIFE. She says, “When you come to the convent at 18, there is a whole experience of life that you miss, but the people of those parishes formed me in life experiences. And I learned the intense sadness of losing a two-year-old, and a husband being killed on the highway, but also the joys. It wasn’t just the pain of life, but also how to celebrate life.” 

She was in vocation ministry for seven years and that really taught her leadership. She also was in social work and started Project Women, now called Family Scholar House, with a group of women religious (see story on pages 4-7). They started this program for single, homeless women with children in Louisville to help them obtain an education. The participants of Project Women taught her about a society that is so lacking in acceptance of people who are on financial assistance in any shape or form, and who do not have support from their families. 

Sister Anne Mary also worked in Immigration Legal Services with Catholic Charities. Sister says, “That was the most challenging, stretching experience of my life.” She worked on applying for grants and managing existing grants, all without a law degree. Sister says, “Being on leadership twice has taught me courage to do things I never really thought I could do or learn; I think of some of the difficult decisions we have had to make as a community. It took a lot of courage to change and move forward.” 

Sister Anne Mary says that being an Ursuline Sister of Louisville has been the ultimate experience of a lifetime. She says, “I renew my vows every day because they are so meaningful for me, and to me, in my relationship with God and creation.” Sister Anne Mary says that as a young girl, she would tell people that she wanted twelve kids and to live on a farm. Now, she says, “I have hundreds of children who have accompanied me on this wonderful journey called Ursuline life, as we have learned to live the Gospel together.” 


Sister Yuli Onchihuay2021 Jubilarian Sr Yuli Onchiuay

1996 – 25 years

On reaching the 25th Jubilee year mark, Sister Yuli Oncihuay, a native of Peru, says she wants to have more patience, compassion and a broader vision of life, to “open new windows to let more fresh air in.” Since she has moved to Louisville from Peru this year in order to serve on leadership, she also wishes to insert herself into a new culture, without losing the essence of who she is and her roots. 

Sister Yuli recalls a favorite memory from Peru. She had been using the “Turtle Technique” with her students at Saint Angela Merici School in Callao to work on their emotions; be it anger, sadness, frustration, etc. She said, “I remember that I explained it in a picture to the children. Every day we put this technique into practice, but one day I forgot—I was angry with them, and one child came up to me and said, ‘Remember Miss, don’t forget the Turtle! You tell us to breathe, calm down and you forgot that!’ I listened to him and I said, ‘I am sorry, thank you for reminding me.’ They were very attentive to what I was doing every day and it was a learning experience with them every day!” 

The Turtle Technique: 

1. Recognize your emotions. 

2. Think and Stop 

3. Go into your shell and breathe 

4. Come out of your shell and find a solution. 

If Sister Yuli could go back in time and talk to her younger self, she would say, “Cheer up, you can do it! Young woman, I say to you, get up! I know you are too young to understand and comprehend, but life gave you the opportunity to bring the great creativity and wisdom that is in your heart.” Anyone who knows Sister Yuli would agree that she is indeed very capable of great creativity and wisdom, which overflows from her kind heart. 

In 2017, as she was preparing to go back to Peru after living for a year in the Motherhouse to learn English, Sister Yuli wrote: “I know there is still much to learn. Life continues to invite us to come to a meeting place with ourselves, and in that space, we run the risk of facing our woundedness, touching our roots, and in touching them, we find a greater freedom inviting us to be in a fuller life; to reach out to our brothers and sisters who are suffering, and who are waiting for us to heal their wounds.” 

When asked what being an Ursuline Sister has meant to her, Sister Yuli very poetically states that to be an Ursuline Sister is: 

• To be like an open piazza, siate piazzevolo—to welcome, to observe, to listen, to contemplate and to act in the face of the reality in which we live. 

• To reflect that we are able to face life with courage and bravery every day, like our mother, Angela. 

• To pray with the voice of the people who cry out for peace and justice for the poor and the afflicted. 

• To be like the weavers who pick up the different colored threads that we are, every being on earth, and with all these threads, we weave a great blanket of great diversity and become one. • To be present in the simple, everyday life. 

• To go out to meet our brothers and sisters, to break down borders and bridges that give us the opportunity to form community and to go out of our comfort zone 

Sister Isabel Lehmenkuler

1945 – 75 years

Sister Isabel Lehmenkuler is celebrating her 75th jubilee as an Ursuline Sister of Louisville. She grew up in Saint Matthews and went to Holy Trinity School where she was first introduced to the Ursuline Sisters. Sister Isabel shared, “I thought the Sisters were just wonderful and they always reminded me of God.”

Sister joined the community in 1945 and began teaching in 1947 at Saint Elizabeth of Hungary School. She then taught in Nebraska (1950–57) at St. Patrick Academy in Sidney and Blessed Sacrament School
in Omaha. Sister Isabel received a bachelor’s degree in 1953 and a master’s in education with a minor in theology in 1957 from Creighton University.

Sister Isabel was then called back home to
teach at Our Mother of Sorrows. She served in the Ursuline Sisters’ Office of Personnel and Professional Development (OPPD) from 1969-1974. She also served at St. Boniface School in Evansville, Indiana. Sister Isabel completed several clinical pastoral education units and served at University Hospital in the summer of 1981, where she worked with 20-25 sick women at any given time. This “began a whole new experience” for her.

After 30 years of teaching, she served at Baptist Medical Center in Columbia, South Carolina for a year. She returned to Louisville for a year and again served in OPPD (1984-85) before accepting a position as a chaplain at Providence Hospital in Columbia, South Carolina.

She shared that her 15-year experience at Providence was one that she truly loved, and that the south is where she learned the true spirit of volunteering. “Sister Maria Goretti Lovett and Sister Cecilia Hatem were into everything,” she stated. Their involvement inspired Sister Isabel to volunteer as well. She volunteered as chaplain for the City of Columbia Police Department for several years. Sister Isabel shared that riding along with the officers, “got me to see another side of the community that I hardly knew existed, but I loved that part of it, too.”

Once she turned 70, however, she decided it was time to move back to Louisville. She served as the director of the Associate Community (2000–03). Sister Isabel expressed that it was “great to see people that wanted to follow the way of Saint Angela.” She then held various leadership and staff roles, and participated in numerous volunteer activities.

Sister Isabel recently moved to Nazareth Home– Clifton after experiencing a stroke that left her in a wheelchair and resulted in her “learning a different relationship with God completely.”Being seemingly helpless revealed a new understanding of God taking care of her at each step of life. “The Lord and I are trying to walk together until He decides to call me home.”

Presently, Sister is learning to accept the kindness of people as they help her. For instance, her niece got her a cup for her wheelchair and a portable lap desk so that she can easily work on things. And, some of the Sisters came over to visit after the archdiocesan jubilee celebration in early February. They told her all about the celebration, took her picture, and brought her flowers from the table at the reception.

Sister Isabel also reflected on some of the changes that have occurred during her time
as an Ursuline Sister. “I think the Lord still has work to do with this group of Ursulines,” she asserted. “We really have to dig deep to find where the Lord is going to lead us as a community.”

Sister Martha (Olga) Buser

1950 – 70 years

Sister Martha Buser is celebrating her 70th jubilee as an Ursuline Sister of Louisville. A native of Louisville, and the youngest of three children, she attended Sacred Heart Schools from second grade through high school. Sister Martha was greatly influenced by the Ursulines who taught her, one of whom was Sister George Marie Long, her principal at the model school and a great mentor to Sister Martha.

Sister Martha says that she was attracted to missionary work, but she was also attracted to the Carmelites and their monastic way of life. It then dawned on her that the Ursuline Sisters had both worlds—contemplative and missionary. During her junior year of high school, it became evident to Sister Martha that she was called to religious life. Sister Martha entered the community after high school. She recalls, “The boldest thing I ever did in my life was to come through the door of the Motherhouse and say, ‘Here I am.’ It’s a definitive statement.”

She earned her bachelor’s degree in English in 1958 from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, and her master’s from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh in 1964 while teaching grade school for seven years and high school for thirteen. When Sister Martha returned to her roots to teach English at Sacred Heart Academy (SHA) (1962-69), Sister George Marie was principal and they renewed their long friendship. Sister Martha recalls visiting the then 100-year-old Sister George Marie at Marian Home, and she took Martha’s hand, and said, “Martha, it’s all about love.”

In 1972, she was asked to be the novice director. Because part of what novice directors did was to introduce the novices to Saint Angela, Sister Martha went back and studied Saint Angela in depth. She says, “I fell in love with Angela. She came alive for me because she was a very real person.” One of the novices told the Ursulines in Cincinnati about her talks, and they were the first group to invite her to come speak about Angela. That was the beginning of her “Ursuline Tour,” as she jokingly calls it!

Word of mouth spread about her talks, and in 1980 she was invited to lead an institute in Brescia, Italy, about Saint Angela and Ursuline spirituality. By the time the “Tour” was over, she had given talks and retreats in every Ursuline motherhouse in North America, several in Europe, and spent six weeks in South Africa in 1990. Encouraged to write down her retreats, the book, Also in Your Midst, became a reality in 1991 and is now in five languages and its third printing. Lover Of Us All followed as a companion book, and now there is a DVD available (see page 6) of Sister Martha reflecting on all the chapters from both books.

Sister Martha founded the Angela Prayer Center in 1979, and was also on staff at the Milford Spiritual Center in Ohio, all the while traveling to lead retreats and talk about her books. Interwoven throughout these years of travel was her ministry of spiritual direction.

Sister Martha became the first woman to direct the Permanent Diaconate program (1987-94) for the Archdiocese of Louisville after an invitation from Father Roy Stiles, who told her Archbishop Kelly had made the request. “Every time Father Roy took me to Shoney’s for breakfast, I knew he wanted something!” she says, laughing. She told him “No.” She says that a few days later, she ran into the archbishop at an event, who took her aside and said jokingly, “I could command you in holy obedience to do this,” to which Sister Martha laughed and replied, “No, you can’t! You are not my canonical superior!” She told him she had to pray on it and ended up taking the position. As a result, many deacons were graced and touched by a woman’s view of leadership and spirituality.

In 1994, Sister Martha co-founded the Company of Saint Angela, an association for laypersons following the spirit of Saint Angela. In 1997, she founded the Angela Merici Center for Spirituality, which is now led by Ginny Schaeffer. In her “retirement,” Sister Martha continues to be a presenter, writer and spiritual director.

So, a young girl from Louisville who wanted to be a missionary and who loved to pray, but only saw herself teaching English, got to travel the world as a missionary for Saint Angela. And during all of her ministries over the years, she helped others discern their own vocations and faith journeys.

Sister Martha reflects, “I want to know if I have communicated God’s love, and if people have known they were loved by God after encountering me. My life as an Ursuline has helped me develop that.” Sister Martha has her answer in a quote from a Wayside Christian Mission resident whom she served, “Miss Martha, you help us so much. You show us the love of God.”

Sister Colette Kraemer

1950 – 70 years

Sister Colette Kraemer is celebrating her 70th jubilee as an Ursuline Sister of Louisville. She was taught by the Ursulines starting in the second grade. She had a close friend, Mary Margaret Schmoll, who happened to have an aunt who was an Ursuline Sister.

Sister recalled being invited to an investment ceremony and shared that she continued to attend a few more, as she was inspired by them. “The Ursuline Sisters always impressed me as being very happy, really good teachers and interested in what they were doing, so that all impressed me as a kid.”

She was interested in going to the convent as early as the seventh grade, but she did not say anything at first. However, once the Ursulines started a program for aspirants in Columbia, South Carolina, she was intent on going. Her friend, Mary Margaret, was a year ahead of her and went down during her junior year, but Sister Colette’s dad would not allow her to go.

Sister Colette said that bothered her and led her to go to confession. She voiced her concerns to the priest who told her he did not see a problem with her going. At the time she was maybe 15, but she was confident in her decision. She told her dad what the priest had said in confession. The following summer, while she and Mary Margaret were praying, her father entered her room with tears in his eyes and said that she could go to the convent. That began her journey as an Ursuline Sister, spending her senior year as a postulant.

At age 20, in 1952, Sister Colette was in the last group to teach after making first vows. She received assistance from Sister Wilma Breighner during her first year as a teacher and described her as absolutely wonderful. Her teaching career lasted over 30 years. She taught in Louisville at Saint George School, Saint Martin of Tours School, Sacred Heart Model School, Angela Merici High School and Sacred Heart Academy. Sister Colette also taught at our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Sister graduated from Ursuline College and earned master’s degrees from both Duquesne University in Pittsburgh and Saint Michael’s College in Winooski, Vermont.

She recalled numerous moments that left an impression on her during her time as a teacher.
She recalled the time a young girl stuck around the classroom at the end of the school year after everyone else had left. Sister Colette could not figure out what was wrong, and finally realized that the young girl did not want to go home because she did not want to leave Sister! She also shared stories from the time she spent leading the drama club at Angela Merici High School. She put on 14 plays during the seven years that she was there, and recounted many stories involving her students learning more about themselves and having a sense of pride regarding the work that they were able to accomplish.

In addition to teaching, Sister Colette served as Office of Ursuline Life Director (1988-87), on Leadership Team (1988-96), as co-director of the Associate Call (1988-92) and as director of Mission Effectiveness for the Ursuline Campus Schools between 1997 and 2007. She also served as a trustee and secretary of the board of Sacred Heart Schools (2010-12).

Sister Colette stated, “Early on, when I was just beginning and didn’t know how to do anything, God always seemed to put somebody close at hand to help.” She now resides at Twinbrook Assisted Living. Sister Colette has not only been able to influence numerous individuals during her time as a Sister, but her life has been greatly impacted by the people she has interacted with and the ways in which they touched her life.

Sister Mary Denis West

1950 – 70 years

Sister Mary Denis West is celebrating her 70th jubilee as an Ursuline Sister of Louisville. Her thoughts about religious life started in 1945, before she was even a Catholic. Sister Denis recalled approaching a priest about desiring to be a nun and he responded with, “I think you had better become a Catholic first.” She was baptized a year later.

“I think the Lord was talking to me,” she said, when she reflected on what attracted her to the Catholic Church. When she was seven years old, she would go to Mass with one of her friends. It was during this time that she began asking questions. As her curiosity grew, she began developing a desire to be involved in the Church, and eventually with the Ursuline Sisters.

Sister Denis attended public school until her junior year and graduated from Ursuline Academy in 1949. Her journey to religious life began that year. She was invested in 1950, made her vows for three years in 1952, and professed final vows in 1955.

Her teaching career lasted 29 years, during which she taught at Saint Raphael, Our Mother of Sorrows and Saint Helen in Louisville. She then taught in Columbia, South Carolina, after which she taught at Holy Trinity in Louisville, then in Cumberland, Maryland. Her final assignments were at Saint Clement and Saint Elizabeth of Hungary schools in Louisville. She felt as though she was learning along with the first class of second graders she taught because she was very new to Catholicism.

She enjoyed it all, but her career as a teacher came to an end when she developed Spasmodic Torticollis, a neurological neck disorder for which there is no cure. Sister Denis shared that it took six or seven years before she could even get a diagnosis because the doctors did not know much about it at the time, and it is still not well-known. Sister is now able to manage her disorder with Botox and said that she is lucky because the disorder is not the same for everyone. Depending on where the muscle spasms occur, Botox does not even work for some. There is still not an understanding about what causes the disorder, but in her case it was a combination of a car accident and genetic factors.

After teaching, she worked in the dining room at Marian Home, assisted as a community driver for the Sisters, participated in the ElderServe program and, in her later years, volunteered at Baptist Hospital East.

Sister Denis recognizes the harsh reality of her disorder and expressed a desire to share this as a way to take the good with the bad. It is apparent that she has not allowed
Spasmodic Torticollis to control her.

Sister Denis has a passion for sports; golf, bowling, roller skating, basketball and softball are just some of the sports that she played. Because sports played such a huge role in her life, it has been
a hardship for her to be limited in mobility and to use a walker. However, she counts her blessings and feels that she has so much to be thankful for.

One thing Sister is especially thankful for is the fact that she still has a good memory. “The main thing is your mind,” she stated. “If the mind goes, even if you’re healthy, it’s sad because your mind rules the body.”

Sister Denis expresses extreme joy and gratitude for a few people in her family converting to Catholicism, including her parents and her brother who was killed in World War II. Her faith has had a profound impact on her life, and she pursued a religious life very intentionally. “I have had many joyful days and some hard days like other people, but I have been happy being a religious and I thank the Lord for His many blessings and giving me a long life.”

Sister Sara (Virginia Ann) Delaney

1960 – 60 years

Sister Sara Delaney is celebrating her 60th jubilee as an Ursuline Sister of Louisville. The second of five children, Sister Sara grew up near the Ursuline campus. In 1953, her father died in a car accident when Sister Sara was twelve and the baby of the family was only 22 months old. She remembers her neighbors coming together to help, and her mother’s strength in keeping the family together. Sister Sara says, “My mother was a joiner. We joined Turner’s for gymnastics, teen club, summer activities and Plantation Swim Club.”

Sister Sara loved the Ursuline Sisters she had as teachers at Holy Spirit Parish school and Sacred Heart Academy. Her senior year, Sister Pat Lowman, who was her homeroom teacher, “told us that, ‘Out of our class, five should enter the convent.’” She found herself thinking more and more about joining the Sisters, and one day decided that she would say “yes” to this call.

Her mother arranged several exciting experiences for her before she entered the convent, including renting a convertible for her to drive for a few days. She recalls, “I drove it through the park as I had always thought the neatest thing to do would be to look up at the trees while driving around.”

Her mother also found ways to stay connected with her, even after she entered the convent. “The postulants took a walk on the campus every night. Well, every night my mother and little sister would find us and walk behind us. I would move to the back of the line, and I would get to see them every night that way. Also, my brother was a server at Holy Spirit, and they would send their servers over for Mass at the Motherhouse. Of course, my mother had to bring my brother to Mass and wait for him. I was able to see them that way, as well.” Her mother, Virginia, also became an Associate—another way to stay connected!

Sister Sara says that, “I literally went from high school at Sacred Heart Academy to the motherhouse, to classes at Ursuline College, to teaching at Sacred Heart Academy, all on the same campus. I never had a chance to get homesick!”

Sister Sara earned her bachelor’s degree from Ursuline College (1964) and a master’s in mathematics from the University of Illinois (1969), while continuing her career, spanning four decades as a math teacher. She taught at Sacred Heart Academy for eight years. After teaching in Georgia for two years, Sister taught and served as an administrator at Angela Merici High School until it merged with Bishop David. She taught at Holy Cross High School for one year and then returned to Sacred Heart Academy until 1998. Later, Sister taught part time at Holy Rosary Academy, Most Blessed Sacrament, Our Mother of Sorrows and St. Francis of Assisi parish schools, retiring in 2010. Sister Sara took a leave from teaching in 1993-94 to care for Sister Elaine Eckert in Pittsburgh.

Like all of us, Sister Sara’s life has not been without loss or difficulties. Her close friend, Sister Elaine Eckert, died of brain cancer in 1997, and her own mother died in 2010. Sister Sara became depressed, but with the love and support of her community, is now healthy and well. She loves to help others, and living at Twinbrook Assisted Living gives her the opportunity to do that every day. She loves to meet all the residents and hear their stories. For many years, Sister painted, but now focuses her creative energies on gardening with one of her sisters and helping family members. Sister Sara says, “I like being a caregiver and helping others. That is my ministry now.” With her big smile and sunny disposition, Sister Sara is certainly a gift to others!

Sister Rita (Ursula Marie) Dressman

1960 – 60 years

Sister Rita Dressman is celebrating her 60th jubilee as an Ursuline Sister of Louisville. The oldest of three children, Sister Rita grew up on her father’s family farm in Cumberland, Maryland. She attended Saints Peter and Paul grade school, then went on to Ursuline Academy in the same building, where she was taught by the Ursuline Sisters.

Sister Rita said that they were blessed to have had a Sister in every grade. She also had an aunt and two cousins who were Ursulines, so she was very familiar with the Ursulines. She recalls, “I remember the Sisters’ joy, their working together, their love for the students, and their prayerfulness. ”

According to Sister Rita, “All of these people influenced my vocation to become an Ursuline Sister. My family also influenced my decision, we prayed together every night that we would all answer God’s call, whatever that was.” She entered the community the fall after her high school graduation.

Sister Rita graduated from Ursuline College (1964) and earned her master’s of education from Xavier University in 1969. She taught at Our Lady of Lourdes (1964-67), where Sister Maria Goretti Lovett was a real mentor to her. Sister Rita said, “We had more fun together working with the children. I think we worked around the clock! At Lourdes, almost every month we had a play. We wrote our songs and made our own scenery. We made this huge storybook for one play we did, and the characters came out of the pages. One little boy got stuck in the book and they had to go up on stage and root through the pages to find him!”

After Lourdes, Sister Rita helped start the Montessori school on the Ursuline campus with Sister Marlene Oetken, who was the director. They started with twelve students, ages 3-5 years in a one- room prefab building now known as the Sacred Heart Preschool with a current enrollment of 244 students!

Sister Rita returned to her beloved mountains in 1973 to teach at Saints Peter and Paul School and Saint John Neumann School in Cumberland. In the following years, she taught at Sacred Heart Model School and Saint Francis de Sales School in Morgantown, West Virginia. She returned to Cumberland in 1984 to teach at Saint John Neumann School while caring for her aging mother.

Sister became the Director of Religious Education for SS. Peter and Paul Parish in 1989. In 2003, after her mother died, she returned to Louisville and served as Vocation Director from 2004-2008, then on the Leadership Team from 2008-2014. Sister Rita served as the coordinator for the Ursuline Sisters living at Sacred Heart Home, now Nazareth Home-Clifton (2009-2018). She continues to work with them and the Sisters at Twinbrook on various projects for the homeless, for their Associate friends in Cumberland and for their young friends at Sacred Heart Preschool.

Sister Rita is also involved in other volunteer ministries and spiritual direction. She says that, “I have been blessed on this journey of 60 years by the love and support of my Sisters and all the people I have encountered in my ministries. I have been especially blessed by my God who gifted me with this call to the Ursuline Sisters. I will always be grateful.” We are certain that everyone who Sister Rita has ministered to over the past sixty years feels equally blessed.

Sister Kathleen (Joseph Angela) Neely

1960 – 60 years

Sister Kathleen (Kathy) Neely is celebrating her 60th jubilee as an Ursuline Sister of Louisville. Sister Kathy says, “My favorite small town, Cumberland, Maryland, happens to be where I was born. I am the eighth of ten children born to Angela and Bob Neely.”

Taught by Ursuline Sisters at Saints Peter and Paul School and Ursuline Academy, Sister Kathy says, “I liked their humor and friendly interactions. They had a spark, a spirit about them that revealed their humanness.”

Sister Kathy entered the community after high school, received her bachelor’s in speech education from Ursuline College in 1965, and taught at Holy Trinity Parish school (1964-68). She later earned her master’s in education from Spalding College (1980).

Sister Kathy had developed a love for the Spanish language in high school, and wondered if she would ever serve in Latin America. Her most vivid memory as a young Sister in 1968 was reading the message on the community’s bulletin board that stated, “Volunteers For Peru Needed,” and signing her name on the sheet, thinking it would be years before she was called. A few weeks later, she was asked to go to Peru the following month!

Sister Kathy first taught at the Peruvian Navy School, then joined several other Ursulines in Carmen de la Legua, which at the time was a slum area outside Lima. She started teaching mentally and physically handicapped children in a makeshift room that the Saint Angela Merici School let her use. She and a British priest, Father Austin Garvey, joined forces and named their school Fe y Audicion (Faith and Hearing).

In 1985 Fe y Audicion merged with a larger school, and in 1991 Sister Kathy moved to the Andes Mountains, to San Miguel in the Cajamarca region of Peru. There, she joined Sisters Lee Kirchner, Betty Albers and Martha Counihan. They worked with rural catechists, traveling many miles to smaller towns doing pastoral ministry. In 2012, Sister Kathy was able to help start a rehabilitation center (Saint Angela Merici Rehabilitation Center) for physically and mentally challenged children and adults that serves the entire province of San Miguel.

Sister Kathy says that San Miguel was her favorite place that she ministered in, and recounted a favorite ministry story: “In my early years in San Miguel, Ana Maria Barbaran (now an Associate) and I went to a small town called Tayapampa to help with the prayer services in their chapel. We had to travel by horse and burro. Ana did NOT want to get on the small horse, but to give her courage, I got on the burro first and I gracefully fell over the other side, which did NOT help Ana with her fear! As I was falling slowly, I felt the burro be in solidarity with me, helping me to fall slowly and gracefully. I ended up looking at the belly of the mule. There is a saying in Peru for the color of the sky at times, called “La Panza del Burro” (the color of the belly of the burro). I know firsthand what the color of the belly of the burro is. I didn’t have a scratch on me, but when we want to laugh, we remember that story.”

Presently in transition from leaving Peru and returning to Louisville, Sister Kathy says, “I feel greatly blessed to have been given the gift to serve as an Ursuline with the people of Peru in their beautiful and colorful country. I have learned much from my second family and country. I have a great respect for the land and the importance of global solidarity. I believe that the Gospel is all about building community no matter where we are. I am eternally grateful to God, to our Ursuline Community and to my family and friends for the wonderful support for our Peru Ministry.”

Sister Sue (John David) Scharfenberger

1960 – 60 years

Sister Sue Scharfenberger is celebrating her 60th jubilee as an Ursuline Sister of Louisville. The second of four children, Sister Sue attended Saint Raphael Parish school where she was taught by Ursuline Sisters, then went to Assumption High School.

Sister Sue entered the Ursulines after high school, began university at Nazareth College (now Spalding University) and graduated from Ursuline College (now Bellarmine University) in 1964. Sister Sue also did theological studies in Rome, Italy, and received a master’s degree from St. Mary’s College in 1969.

When asked about her calling to become an Ursuline Sister, Sister Sue says, “My mother and father were people who cared about others. Both were religious persons: my father was Catholic and my mother was Lutheran. I think I learned the values of service and embracing diversity from them.” She adds, “I fell in love with the spirit and Charism of Angela.”

Sister Sue started out teaching at St. Elizabeth of Hungary Parish school in Louisville (1964-65). She then taught at Ursuline Academy (1969-70). While teaching at Sacred Heart Academy (1970-73) Sister Sue was also responsible for formation in the community.

From 1973-78, Sister Sue served in social work in the rural area of Hernando, Mississippi with Sacred Heart Southern Missions, visiting and assisting rural poor families. She also worked in pastoral ministry in two parishes there. Sister Sue says, “The last 40 years I have worked in Peru. Both Mississippi and Peru are ‘favorites,’ where I learned from the people, and where my social consciousness was deepened while learning of their struggles and celebrations.”

During her time in Peru, Sister Sue has served in pastoral ministry at Santa Angela Merici Parish
in Carmen de la Legua (1979-85 and 1988-01) in the urban Lima area. She also did apostolic work (pastoral ministry) at both Cajabamba Parish (1985-87) and San Miguel Parish (1987-88), both in Cajamarca. The Diocese of Cajamarca is located in an isolated, rural area of the Andes Mountains. Travel for many residents is on foot or horseback, with many hardships in their lives. Sister Sue carried God’s message of love and peace to people living in poverty in this mountainous region for many years, and in the valley of the Mantaro River in Huancayo.

In 2008, Sister Sue returned to the urban area of Carmen de la Legua to serve as the director of mission effectiveness at Saint Angela Merici School. Additionally, Sister Sue ministers to different women’s groups in working with empowerment, including the Peruvian Associates. She networks with other social justice groups through the center for investigation and studies, Bartolomé de las Casa. She also serves as a facilitator for other religious communities in their planning and organizational meetings.

Sister Sue shared a favorite memory from her ministry: “While on the Leadership Team in the community from 2002-2008, I lived at the Casa Latina, Catholic Worker House in Louisville. I was present in the hospital birthing room on four occasions, accompanying women as a translator as they gave birth. This was a blessed experience, awesome and sacred.”

This last quote from Sister Sue is so appropriate. She quietly works side by side with those she is in ministry with, never seeking the spotlight, always seeing Christ in others. Sister Sue has a heart for those on the margins, and it shows in her words and actions.

Sister Jamesetta DeFelice

Year – 70 years

Sister Jamesetta DeFelice is celebrating her 70th jubilee as an Ursuline Sister of Louisville, having entered the community in 1949. Sister Jamesetta grew up in Louisville, attending St. Martin grade school and Ursuline Academy for high school. Sister Jamesetta says that she always wanted to be a religious Sister, and had a close relationship with many of the Sisters who taught her, including Sister Berenice Heitkemper.

Sister Jamesetta says of the desire of the novitiate class to become Sisters, “We all wanted to be part of a community and grow closer to God.” Like many Ursuline Sisters who entered at that time, Sister Jamesetta taught at several Louisville parish schools while working on her undergraduate degree at Ursuline College, which she received in 1963. She then taught at Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament School in Pittsburgh while earning her master’s in education from Duquesne University.

After receiving her master’s, she became principal at St. Francis of Assisi, Holy Name, St. Matthias and Maryhurst schools, all in Louisville. Sister Jamesetta then served as principal at Sacred Heart School and St. Anthony School both in Indiana. All told, Sister Jamesetta had a 56-year career in education!

Sister Jamesetta recalls, “I taught mostly at poor schools, and I loved working with African-American children at St. Matthias.” While principal there from 1986 until the school closed in 1992, Sister Jamesetta built a relationship with the community at large, including inviting Protestant ministers from the neighborhood to some of the school functions.

Sister Jamesetta also included non-Catholic children at St. Matthias in sacramental preparation so that it could be “a personal, spiritual growth experience for them.” She also added that, “Another very real type of evangelization was the outreach to Catholic parents who had been away from the Church and came back to it as their children got involved. We encouraged parents and our students to see God’s presence in many ways.”

After Sister Jamesetta retired from education in 2007, she served at Marian Home as social services director for two years, then was a volunteer on the Marian Community Team at Sacred Heart Village for two years. Now she resides at Twinbrook Assisted Living and has a ministry of prayer and presence. Sister Jamesetta stays busy with activities at Twinbrook, as well as visiting with her family.

Sister Jamesetta says she is “so very grateful for the many opportunities I have had, and still have, to minister to others, especially those who need what I can give.” One can be sure that there are many former students out there who have benefitted from what Sister Jamesetta gave them.

Sister Julienne Guy

1949 – 70 years

Sister Julienne Guy, who is celebrating her 70th jubilee as an Ursuline Sister of Louisville, was born in Atlanta, Georgia, and was taught by the Sisters of St. Joseph at St. Anthony Parish School. Sister Julienne was at St. Anthony for first through sixth grade.

Then World War II started, which affected every family, including hers. Her father moved the family quite often for his employer, the Arrow Shirt Company, as he opened factories throughout the South that made shirts for the military during the war. Due to these moves, beginning at age 13, she attended public school for four years, and religion did not seem that important to her during that time.

The family attended Mass in small mission churches, but there was very little formal religious education. However, seeing movies such as “The Bells of Saint Mary’s,” “Going My Way” and “Joan of Arc” “touched her heart,” as she recalls, and seeing Ingrid Bergman as a nun made her think for the first time that becoming a nun might be a good life.

When the family moved to Columbia, South Carolina, Sister Julienne entered her senior year at Ursuline High School, which was in the middle of
the Ursuline convent. She saw the everyday lives of the Sisters, including daily Mass, and liked it! She grew close to many of the Sisters, including her piano teacher, Sister Eileen Schonter; and Sister Ferdinand Storch, who was the senior religion teacher, and who privately taught her how to pray the rosary from a small book that Sister Julienne still uses.

Sister Julienne says her call was more in bits and pieces, rather than a sudden revelation. She even says that during her senior year, as she enjoyed being with her friends in the CYO Club, attending school dances, especially her last formal dance with orchestral music, she would occasionally think, “Do I really want to give this up?” She loved dancing!

Sister Julienne received a scholarship to Ursuline College in Louisville, which helped convince her mother to let her leave home. Her mother told her, “I’m only letting you go up there because you got that scholarship!” However, she says, “We both knew I would join the Ursulines!” She says that young people should not necessarily expect a vocation to arrive with a blare of trumpets, but with little nudges, and they should be open and aware of such a possibility.

Before finishing her degree and making her final vows in 1951, Sister Julienne taught at several parish grade schools in Louisville; Morgantown, West Virginia, and graduated from Ursuline College in 1961. Sister then was sent to Omaha, Nebraska, to teach first grade (her first love) at Blessed Sacrament while earning her master’s in education from Creighton University in 1966.

Sister Julienne then was sent back to Columbia, close to family and friends, where she remained for ten years. One of her fondest memories from that time was teaching at Saint Peter School. She recalls, “I loved teaching eighth grade. We put on shows; we even had our own ‘Laugh-in’ show complete with a set that the students built.” Sister Julienne learned to play the guitar for school Masses and took the eighth graders on field trips to Charleston in the spring.

The “adventure years” began when Sister Julienne was made principal of St. Joseph School in Columbia, where she served for seven years. She, Sister Cecilia Hatem, Sister Donata Kokot and Sister Maria Goretti Lovett decided that they wanted to go to a retreat in Florida. They sold old books and counting aids for a nickel, and anything else they could to raise money for their travel expenses. They ended up having enough money for a day at Disney World on the way home!

In 1974, Sister Donata and Sister Julienne celebrated their 25th jubilees by purchasing a Greyhound Bus Ameripass with gift money from the school’s PTO and the parish priest. They had another grand adventure and took a bus ride to California!

In 1976, Sister Julienne returned to Louisville
and worked as an educational consultant for the archdiocese’s Catholic School Office. Then it was off to Columbus, Ohio, where she served at St. Agatha School as a teacher and then principal. From 1988- 90, Sister Julienne served two years as principal at Sacred Heart Academy in Louisville, then was sent back to Columbia! She was vice-principal at Cardinal Newman High School from 1990-96, and again in 2001-02 as an interim principal.

In 1996, Sister Julienne took a sabbatical to study at the School of Applied Theology in Berkeley, California. To get to Berkeley, she and Sister Andrea Callahan drove coast-to-coast, staying overnight in various towns along the famous Route 66. In June 1997, she drove back with her sister Rosalie and sister-in-law Kathleen along the same route, stopping at the Route 66 museum. Another adventure!

After her sabbatical, Sister Julienne returned to Columbia to serve in vocation ministry for the Ursuline community and also campus ministry at the University of South Carolina.

In 2003, Sister Julienne began a twelve year ministry at St. Joseph Parish in Columbia as director of senior life ministry. She led Bible study, bridge sessions, trips around the region and organized dances with big bands, which were quite a hit! At the pastor’s request, Sister served as interim principal at the parish school from 2004–05; then returned to senior life ministry.

Sister Julienne also served in a respite care program with Sister Andrea Callahan, who founded the program and was the director. When Sister Andrea retired, Sister Julienne became director.

In 2015, at 85 years young, she retired from St. Joseph Parish and moved back to Louisville. Sister Julienne now resides at Twinbrook Assisted Living Apartments, and volunteers as a tutor of English as a Second Language (ESL) at Doors to Hope. Sister Julienne says of her many roles, “I loved everything I did, especially teaching.” One can be certain that all of the students and parishioners that she ministered to felt that love.

Sister Donata (Mary Catherine) Kokot

1949 – 70 years

Sister Donata is celebrating her 70th jubilee as an Ursuline Sister of Louisville. Her very first encounter with the Ursuline Sisters was at the age of seven, when the Sisters came every summer to teach catechism lessons to the children of Bretz, West Virginia. Sister Donata, one of five children, said, “I had never seen nuns before. I told my mother I wanted to be just like them when I grew up. I thought they were dropped from Heaven.”

The thought of becoming a Sister lingered long after her catechism days. Sister Donata says, “True, God planted the seed early in my life, but almost always speaks through others. My dear mother and Sister Jane Callahan awakened God’s love in my soul.”

The closest Catholic school was 14 miles away, so Sister Donata went to public schools. After high school graduation, she worked for 31⁄2 years at first at a shirt factory, then at a Montgomery Wards and at a telephone company. Sister says, “No matter what job I had, I still yearned to become a religious sister. At the age of 21, I stepped out in faith and embraced the life of an Ursuline Sister of Louisville.”

Sister Donata moved closer to Morgantown, met Sister Jeanette Hellmann, and then traveled to Louisville for formation. She thought she would serve the community as a domestic, but the mother superior informed her, “My dear, you have to go to college. We are educators.”

Sister Donata began teaching at Louisville area parish grade schools in 1951 while attending Ursuline College, graduating in 1965. Sister Donata then taught at St. Joseph School in Pittsburgh while earning her master’s in education from Duquesne University.

The mother superior ended up being spot-on in sending Sister Donata to the classroom, as she taught first and second grade for a total of 48 years! Sister Donata says that, “I loved teaching first and second grade.” She taught in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Maryland, South Carolina and Mississippi.

Sister Donata served in Jackson, Mississippi for 31 years, from 1977 to 2008, first at St. Mary and St. Therese schools and also as a caregiver for two years; then, when she retired from teaching, she decided to try a different ministry, one that would exemplify the Ursuline mission. She found this new ministry as a medical records clerk at St. Dominic Hospital in Jackson. She served at the hospital from 1999-2006. She says that, “I found personal and professional fulfillment in the hospital’s mission of service.”

Sister Donata says that, “My many years’ journey has been interesting, challenging, enjoyable, rewarding and truly blessed. I am still continuing the journey at Twinbrook Assisted Living Apartments, where I now reside.”

Sister Jane (Hilary) Stuckenborg

1949 – 70 years

Sister Jane Stuckenborg is celebrating her 70th jubilee as an Ursuline Sister of Louisville. Sister Jane graduated from Ursuline Academy in Louisville in 1948, and joined the Sisters after graduation. She taught at several parish grade schools in Louisville while working on her bachelor’s degree from Ursuline College, which she earned in 1961.

From 1961-66, she taught at St. Patrick School in Sidney, Nebraska, then returned to Louisville for two years to teach at St. Helen School. During these years, Pope John XXIII had issued a call to religious communities to send 10% of their members to serve in missions in Latin America. Sister Jane’s ministry field was about to change dramatically.

In 1968, Sister Jane, along with Sister Kathleen (Joseph Angela) Neely, left for Peru to teach at the Peruvian Navy School in Lima. According to an article in The Record dated October 18, 1979, “Sister Jane Stuckenborg went to the mission in 1968, wearing a full habit, and returned at the end of 1970 to find that all had changed. While Sister Jane was there, she heard of Robert Kennedy’s and Martin Luther King Jr.’s death, but she said she had no way of really sharing that loss with others while in Peru.

“‘Sometimes, you go to the mission area with the idea of helping others,’ Sister Jane commented. ‘But when you get down to it, you’re the one who’s being helped by learning to appreciate and experience other cultures and other people’s struggles.’”

After returning to the U.S., Sister Jane taught at Sacred Heart Model School in Louisville then Pope John XXIII School in Madison, Indiana, while earning her master’s in education from Spalding College in 1973. For several years after that, she held various positions in finance and administration. Sister Jane returned to teaching at Immaculate Conception School in LaGrange, Kentucky, from 1983-88. Altogether, Sister Jane taught for a total of 33 years in elementary schools in the U.S. and Peru!

Sister Jane then served on the vocation team and 0n the Ursuline Sisters’ leadership team from 1992- 96. Following that, she ministered at the former nursing facility, Marian Home, as social services coordinator and coordinator of funeral arrangements for the Sisters. Sister Jane also served as a member of the St. Helen School formation team, volunteered at Our Mother of Sorrows Parish and as a receptionist at Brescia Hall on the Ursuline Campus.

Of her many ministries, Sister Jane has stated, “It is difficult to single out a particular ministry as my favorite, as I was happy serving in each ministry to which I was called. I was able to teach Christian living in a variety of locations, situations and to a broad spectrum of God’s people. I found each ministry a challenge and a blessing.”

Sister Catherine Franze

1959 – 60 years

Sister Catherine is celebrating her 60th jubilee as an Ursuline Sister of Louisville. A native of Cumberland, Maryland, she is known to many as Sister Kathy. Her father, Michele Franze, immigrated from Italy and worked for the B&O Railroad. Her mother, Frances, was a native of Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Sister Kathy had one brother, and graduated from St. Mary’s High School.

Sister Kathy was taught by the Ursuline Sisters of Louisville at St. Mary’s, but says, “My mother was the greatest influence on my life. She always knew I would become a Sister.” Sister Kathy attended Ursuline College, and, as graduation neared, she could feel the “Hound of Heaven” pursuing her, meaning the pull of God to the religious life:

“I FLED Him, down the nights and down the days; …I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways…
I am He Whom thou seekest!
Thou dravest love from thee, who dravest Me.”

—Francis Thompson

The “Hound” won, and Sister Kathy entered the Ursulines in 1959. She received her bachelor’s degree from Ursuline College in 1959, with a major in elementary education, and minors in speech correction, philosophy and biology, and professed her final vows in 1966.

Sister Kathy then began a long career in education. She taught at many parish grade schools in Louisville, including several West End parish schools. She served as librarian at Sacred Heart Academy in Louisville from 1971-74. Sister Kathy earned her master’s degree in library science at Indiana University, Bloomington in 1971.

Sister Kathy completed two more master’s degrees: instructional systems technology and school administration from Indiana University. Sister Kathy served at St. Ann’s as principal, then at Sacred Heart Model School for 15 years as principal. She left that position to help care for her mother. Sister Kathy then worked as a paralegal and at Executive Network in Louisville.

Sister Kathy returned to teaching and taught in Jefferson County public schools. She also taught at Spalding College, supervised student teachers there and taught at Jefferson Community College.

When asked what she liked best, teaching or being a principal, Sister Kathy says, “My passion is for teaching. I loved the kids and I loved teaching. Everything I learned as far as training helped me to be a better teacher. I could spot difficulties a child was having earlier than if I had not had that training.”

A note from a Sacred Heart Model School parent to Sister Kathy testifies to her love for her students:

You definitely care about the total needs of each child. Thank you for setting such a progressive and loving pace in my child’s school environment.

Sister Kathy possesses a dry sense of humor and says she loves to make people laugh. She says, “We are here to be Christ to each other. I try to serve someone’s needs, but also their wants, because that makes them happy.”

Today, Sister Kathy remains very busy with volunteer work, including serving on the Needy Fund Committee at her home parish of Our Lady of Lourdes. She is involved with RCIA and a parish discussion group. “I try to help out with whatever the parish needs,” she says.

Sister Kathy also serves on the board of Plowshares Farm Center for Education and Spirituality, and has served on the boards of Family Scholar House and the Italian Culture Institute. Sister Kathy also volunteers with Wayside Christian Mission and Hand-in-Hand Ministries. She is an avid reader and loves playing sudoku, as well.

Like many of the Ursuline Sisters, Sister Kathy is very humble and does not like to be in the spotlight. Of her 60 years as an Ursuline Sister of Louisville, she says, “I still have a long way to go.” For one who has given so much to others, we say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” MT 25:23

Sister Lorna Weiler

1959 – 60 years

Sister Lorna Weiler has been an Ursuline Sister for 60 years, having entered in 1959, right after her graduation from Sacred Heart Academy (SHA). She has been on staff at SHA for 52 years, most of those as a chemistry and physics teacher. When asked how she managed to stay in one place all those years when it was routine for Ursulines to get moved from places of ministry every few years, she laughs and says, “I guess because I found my niche and loved myjob.”

After her final vows in 1962, she taught grade school for five years, while completing her undergraduate degree at Ursuline College, all the while longing to teach high school. In 1967, Sister Lorna’s wish came true when she was assigned to Sacred Heart Academy. Sister Lorna did graduate work in chemistry at the University of Notre Dame for three summers, and received her master’s at the University of a degree in physics in the ’70s.

Some of her fondest memories on campus (besides the thousands of students she has taught!) are of her two miniature poodles, Beaker No. I
and Beeker No. 2. The first dog, Beaker No. 1, was given to her as a gift from some of her students in 1984. Beaker lived 14 years, and although he visited school occasionally, he was never the unofficial school mascot that Beeker No. 2 became. Beeker
No. 2 started out as Sister Lorna’s mother’s pet, but when her mother died in 2001, Beeker No. 2 came
to live with Sister Lorna. Beeker No. 2 would visit staff and students every day, and ride around on an AV cart that was dubbed “the Beekermobile.” Sister Lorna says, “He was such a special dog, so smart and friendly.” Beeker No. 2 died in 2009 and is buried on the campus near the site of the “Peace Flag” in the back of the Motherhouse.

Sister Lorna was quite creative as a teacher, taking her physics class to Churchill Downs to study the centrifugal forces of the horses, according to Carrie Wentzel, SHA Class of 1997 and now assistant principal/dean of faculty at SHA, Sister Lorna would have colored liquids in beakers in the labs to match the seasonal colors at Christmas and other holidays. She even took some classes to Kentucky Kingdom to perform calculations on each ride!

Sister Lorna said that a few years ago, she decided that the computer had put her out of business as
a chemistry and physics teacher. “I liked to have hands-on experiments with the kids at least once a week, but the computer replaced those with graphing and simulated experiments.” Sister Lorna now serves as a substitute teacher and lunchroom monitor and is quite beloved on campus.

Some of Sister Lorna’s other passions include cooking—she is known for her German potato salad. She cooks the opening luncheon for the Sacred Heart Academy faculty every fall, and Thanksgiving dinner for her entire family. Sister Lorna also crochets and makes a baby blanket for faculty members when thye have a new baby. She gives out Communion
at Nazareth Home–Clifton on Sundays and, as she says, “pitches in where they need me.”

One can definitely say that Sister Lorna Weiler has, indeed, found her niche over these past 60 years as an Ursuline Sister of Louisville.

Sister Lelia Lee Kirchner, OSU

1948-70 years
Current Ministry: United Crescent Hill Ministries, Louisville and Centro Latino, Shelbyville, Kentucky

Previous Ministries: Teacher, St. George and St. Raphael schools (Louisville), Saints Peter and Paul school, Cumberland, MD, St. Raphael and St. Helen schools (Louisville) Co-founder of St. Angela Merici school in Carmen de la Legua, Peru, Pastoral ministry at San Miguel in Cajamarca, Peru

Sister Lelia Marie Kirchner (Sister Mary Placidus) celebrates her 70th Jubilee this year. She was born on June 13, 1929, the eighth of thirteen children born to Mary and John Kirchner, who raised the family on a farm in Lyndon, Kentucky. After the Great Depression and 1937 flood, the family had to give up the farm and move into the city, where they joined St. Joseph Parish.

Sister Lee (as she is called), recalls, “I missed the green, open countryside and spacious home on the farm, but I really loved being able to participate in school and church activities, which were not possible before, due to the distance.”

Sister Lee entered the Ursuline Community joyously after high school graduation from Ursuline Academy (UA) in Louisville and received the name Sister Mary Placidus on July 4, 1948. She taught at St. George and St. Raphael schools in Louisville while attending Ursuline College. Immediately following her final profession, she took a train to Cumberland, Maryland and taught second grade for five years at Saints Peter and Paul Parish School. She loved the community there. Always a sports lover, she tells the story that she and another Sister hung back after evening Mass to watch the Harlem Globetrotters from an upper window in the school gym, for which they did not have permission from their superior. She had to kneel on the carpet in front of the superior as punishment, but she said it was worth it to see the Globetrotters!

From Cumberland, Sister Lee then returned to Louisville to teach at St. Raphael and St. Helen parish schools for a total of thirteen years. While she enjoyed teaching and loved her students, she always carried in her heart a love for ministry with the poor and marginalized.

In 1963, Pope John XXIII asked religious communities to send 10% of their members to serve in Latin America. For several years, the Ursulines had sent out a questionnaire to the members asking if they would be interested in missionary work. Every year, Sister Lee would mark “yes”.
Sister Lee says that in 1964 she was “surprised, overjoyed and at the same time almost in a daze as I received by phone my obedience to go to Lima, Peru, with three other sisters to begin a mission there.” Sister Lee and Sister (Joseph Marie) Mary Martha Staarman were told that they were starting a school from scratch in what was a slum area, Carmen de la Legua. The other two Sisters would teach English at a Navy school. Neither Sister knew Spanish or the culture. She had some concerns, but deep in her heart she was very excited—this is what she had wanted all along! Sister Lee felt she was living like a queen in the U.S., and what she truly wanted was to be with the people that were living as “the other.” So, off she went on July 8, 1964, for the biggest adventure of her life.

After a three month crash course in Spanish (over time they became fluent in Spanish), Sister Lee and Sister Mary Martha set about their monumental task. Sister Lee recalls, “I felt so zealous until I saw our mission, Carmen de la Legua, which was a slum area of 30,000 poor families that lived along a dried-up bed of the Rimac River in straw huts and spoke another language. Oh, my Jesus, guide and keep me.” They had no electricity, running water, sewers, basic medical care or transportation. The area had a lot of mosquitos, scorpions and vermin, and disease was rampant.

In 1965, after a lot of red tape, they were able to open St. Angela Merici School. They started it with 75 children in two first grade rooms, one box of chalk and two erasers! Enrollment quickly grew as it was the only Catholic school in the area.

Sister Lee was with St. Angela Merici School from 1964 to 1988, including ten years as principal. Through her pastoral ministry she empowered Peruvians to take over leadership positions in the school, in women’s family programs and in youth/young adult groups. Sister cherishes the support they had from other missionaries, and especially from Sisters Joanna Krupa and Martin de Porres who became her soul mates.

Sister Lee embraced Vatican II’s views on Gospel values, particularly the preferential option for the poor, all while witnessing first-hand the struggles of her Peruvian friends. These experiences helped lead Sister Lee to a deeper trust in Jesus, and the courage to face all of the isolation and difficulties she faced while ministering in South America, including twelve years of revolution.

In 1988, Sister Lee moved to the rural mission of San Miguel in the Andes Mountains of Cajamarca, Peru, where she worked in pastoral ministry until 2005. Sister Lee says, “What a blessing it was to return to my country roots, and to be among humble, gifted, faithful people who lived contemplatively. Our sisters were the first religious group to ever share our lives with them and acknowledge their many gifts as leaders in the church and villages.

Sister Lee says that from 1964-2005, “I spent the most unbelievable, difficult, happy and rewarding years of my life. Forty-one years of every kind of experience enriched my spiritual journey of serving and sharing God among some of the poorest, unattended, struggling, faith-filled, happy people I know and love. In Peru I began to realize what my call as a religious really was.”

In 2005, Sister Lee returned to the states, where she continues in ministry. She and Sister Annunciata Muth serve at United Crescent Hill Ministries in Louisville, preparing meals on wheels and serving senior citizens who eat lunch there. Sister Lee also volunteers with Centro Latino in Shelbyville, Kentucky. Centro Latino is a non-profit organization that serves Latinos in five counties with legal assistance, donations of food, clothing and educational services. She helps coordinate their free clothes closet and leads 30 Latina women each month in prayers, reflections, sharing, and exercises that help to relieve stress and concerns of daily living.

Sister Lee’s personal symbol is a yellow butterfly, Sofia, for the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. What an appropriate symbol for a young girl who missed the outdoor life of her family farm, and then as an Ursuline missionary no doubt saw many yellow butterflies in the mountains of Peru, when riding on horseback to carry the Blessed Sacrament to a village or minister to a sick child. The butterflies must have seemed to her to be messengers from Heaven.

In closing, Sister Lee says, “My final thoughts are so full of love, gratitude, pardon and promises. I thank God for His faithfulness to me in my times of light and darkness. My family, friends, benefactors, Associates, and especially my Ursuline Sisters are the most precious gift I can appreciate, share and enjoy.”

Sister Jean Anne Zappa, OSU

1968-50 years
Current Ministry: Mission Advancement Coordinator at Shively Area Ministries, Louisville

Previous Ministries: Religion Teacher, Angela Merici High School, Sacred Heart Academy (both in Louisville), religion department chair at SHA, Director of Mission Effectiveness of the newly incorporated Ursuline Campus Schools, Pastoral Associate at St. Athanasius Parish in Louisville Councilor for Ursuline Sisters, President of Ursuline Sisters, intern at Network in Washington D.C .

Much like a team that has just won the Super Bowl, when asked what she wants to do if she ever retires, Sister Jean Anne Zappa answers, “Go to Disney World!” In fact, when she turned 65 in 2015, she participated in the Disney Princess 10k at the Magic Kingdom. “Some folks get depressed about age; I want to celebrate it,” says Sister Jean Anne. She appreciates the Disney mindset. “I went there for a leadership workshop about six years ago,” she recalled. “Their mission is simple—keep people happy and safe.”

When you spend a little time with Sister Jean Anne, you begin to understand why this makes perfect sense for this Ursuline Sister who is celebrating her 50th Jubilee this year. She is a self-described “Italian extrovert” who freely gives hugs and has a warm smile for everyone she meets, bestowing on each person the gift of feeling loved and appreciated.

A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Sister Jean Anne grew up in a large Catholic Italian family with five children. She lived only eight blocks from Ursuline Academy, from which she graduated in 1967. She credits the Ursuline Sisters there with her decision to join the Ursuline Sisters of Louisville. She said they inspired her not so much by what they did, but how they did it. She also gives a lot of credit to her family who nurtured her call to religious life. She says her family lived hospitality, generosity and service through their actions. Her first call came from God, through them, from their example of love.

When asked what she is passionate about, Sister Jean Anne answers, “Life! Relationships and people.” Her ministry through the years has been evidence of this, as well as her enthusiasm, joy and energy. She entered the Ursuline community in 1967, during a period of great change in the Catholic Church and in the Ursuline community as a result of Vatican II. Religious communities were told to renew themselves, to go deep into their charism.

Sister Jean Anne recalls, “It was an exciting time—there was a buzz around the community.” As a novice, she was asked to step in to be the chair of the vow committee when the chairperson got sick, and that was so exciting to her. Sister said that is a perfect example of how her ministry changed over the years; always by invitation from others. The Ursuline Sisters did this by drawing out her gifts, and she states that, “I have been blessed and have received many graces as an Ursuline Sister. I have experienced God’s fidelity, wonderful relationships, and have had spiritual opportunities that have touched and shaped my life tremendously.”

With a bachelor’s from Bellarmine and a master’s from St. Meinrad School of Theology, Sister Jean Anne taught for twenty years, and then served in pastoral work, and terms in Leadership, as well as an internship with Network in Washington, D.C., Sister Jean Anne has been with Shively Area Ministries (SAM) as Mission Advancement Coordinator since 2009. SAM responds to persons in poverty and crisis in the 40216 zip code in Louisville. It provides food, financial assistance, education and counseling to over 20,000 persons each year. In fact, it is the second largest food pantry in Kentucky.

During her tenure, Sister Jean Anne has played a key role in the success of SAM. She proposed, oversaw and completed a successful three-year capital campaign for SAM, exceeding the $600,000 goal, as well as raising an additional $23,000 to build a Habitat for Humanity house.

She also started a Partner in Ministry program, which began with 40 donors who contribute monthly, but is now up to 200 donors. Sister Jean Anne says, “I love the people we work with, and I love working with the donors, staff and volunteers.” Gary Copeland, the Executive Director of Shively Area Ministries, says, “Sister Jean Anne is well known to be an effective fundraiser because it comes from the heart. She has a passion and a commitment to our clients—what it takes to serve is what she does.”

Sister Jean Anne has also been a successful fundraiser for her own community, having most recently served as Chapel Preservation Coordinator for a 3.5 million dollar capital campaign that ensures the 100 year-old Motherhouse Chapel will be preserved into perpetuity.

Sister Jean Anne believes that Angela’s charism is a very strong charism— to have survived since 1535. She sees the future of the Ursuline Sisters of Louisville as evolving into something closer to the way Saint Angela and her original companions lived: freely among the people they serve, to be leaven to all.

Sister believes that the point of religious life is to share the charism with others, spread the gospel and serve the marginalized. Through her many and varied ministries over the years, Sister Jean Anne has definitely done just that.

Sister Shirley Ann Simmons

75 years — 1942
Current Ministry: Prayer and presence at Sacred Heart Home

Previous Ministries: Principal at St. Patrick (Sidney, NE), St. Luke (Ogallala, NE). Teacher at McDaid Elementary (North Platte, NE), St. Luke (Ogallala, NE). Teacher at St. Boniface, Our Lady of Lourdes and St. Elizabeth (Louisville, KY); SS. Peter and Paul and St. Mary (Cumberland, MD); Blessed Sacrament (Omaha, NE); Pastoral Minister at St. Luke Parish (Ogallala, NE).

It was 1942. A first class stamp cost three cents. “Casablanca” hit movie theaters. Bing Crosby released his version of “White Christmas” and Sister Shirley Ann Simmons joined the Ursuline Community. Seventy-five years later, Sister Shirley Ann says she doesn’t recall seeing “Casablanca”, but she sure knows “White Christmas,” and she still loves listening to music.

Born in Hartwell, Nebraska, Sister Shirley Ann was the oldest of four; she had two brothers and a sister. Her father was a farmer and her mother taught school. Education was important in their household, so the oldest daughter was sent to board with a Catholic family in North Platte in order to attend a Catholic high school. Sister Shirley Ann helped with the host family’s two children, getting them to and from school.

Sister was 17 when she decided to join the convent. Then she received a four-year scholarship to attend Ursuline College in Louisville, Kentucky. Sister Shirley Ann said she never would have ventured so far from home without that scholarship. She missed her parents and siblings, but soon gained a new family in the Ursuline community. “I guess God just put the wish there,” she said. “I admired all the nuns; all the ones I had as teachers.” When Shirley Ann entered the Novitiate, she was given the name, Sister Joanella; she returned to her baptismal name when this was a choice in the 1960s.

Over the years, Sister Shirley Ann has travelled through many classrooms and served as principal at two Nebraska schools: St. Patrick in Sidney, and St. Luke in Ogallala. In 1999, she left teaching behind and began work as pastoral minister at St. Luke Parish in Ogallala, Nebraska, serving the Catholic community there until 2005.

Her own education included a Bachelor of Arts degree from Ursuline College in 1957; Master of Arts, Creighton University, 1962; and summer classes at University of Notre Dame, College of St. Mary (Leavenworth, KS), and University of Montana (Missoula). “I liked every place I was,” she said. “I taught most of the grades. I really preferred teaching middle grades, but I taught whatever they gave me! I really enjoyed my classes and I had some big classes. I enjoyed my teaching career.”

Today Sister Shirley Ann lives at Sacred Heart Home in Louisville. Her tidy room contains a book shelf with her favorite books, many of them Ursuline prayer books. “I read and I pray,” she said. “I like the Ursuline prayers. I like music, too. I just don’t like the wild stuff!” she said with a laugh. When asked about being an Ursuline for 75 years, she paused. “It sounds like a long time, but when I stop and think of it, it doesn’t seem like it’s that long,” she said. “I’ve basically had good years all along.”

Sister Antonine Biven

70 years — 1947
Current Ministry: Apostolate of Prayer

Previous Ministries: Music Teacher at St. Francis of Assisi, St. Helen, Our Lady of Lourdes, St. Therese, Sacred Heart Model School, St. Raphael (all of Louisville, KY), Ursuline Academy (Columbia, SC), St. Mary (Jackson, MS). Music Director/Organist at St. Raphael, Our Lady of Lourdes, St. Helen, Ursuline Motherhouse ( all of Louisville). Director of Religious Education at St. Mary Parish (Maryville, KY). Councilor for Ursuline Sisters, Volunteer at Project Women and Marian Home (both of Louisville).

There is no calculating hours at the keyboard or how often she struck up the band, Sister Antonine Biven has spent her life making music. She chuckled about almost joining a jazz band before she went to the convent and how she learned to play everything from violin to saxophone. The time she wore a full habit while practicing trombone – whose slide knocked off her bonnet – made her laugh aloud.

“I always wanted to be a nun,” she said, smiling. “I used to go to early mass with my mother and we would pass the convent, and I wondered what those people did up there. I thought they took off that habit and stacked it in the corner. I didn’t know they were in parts! I think my time with my mother and our going to mass every morning kept that vocation alive in me.”

Childhood memories include the 1937 flood, when her family lost everything. “We moved in with my oldest brother who had been married only 12 days. He said his marriage was never the same!” she laughed. “My sister and I slept in a broom closet.”

They recovered from the flood, and she started piano lessons. “Lessons cost a quarter each. Eventually, mom saved enough for me to take lessons from the sisters for fifty cents!”
When was her music career truly born?

  • When her father bought a $15 piano on payments.
  • When high school classmates pooled money to rent the Memorial Auditorium so she could have a senior recital there.
  • When the Ursulines provided an education that led her to teach.

”It was very difficult for my dad when I went to the convent. I remember his picking me up off the ground when I was put into the habit, to tell me goodbye. He hugged me SO tight.”

After her undergraduate degree in music from Ursuline College came a Master’s Degree from Notre Dame. She put her education to work in Kentucky, South Carolina and Mississippi for 24 years as a private instructor, band leader, parish music director, and church organist.

She hit a couple of sour notes along the way: a period when she was not permitted to teach secular music, and the day a priest who did not want a school band at his parish told her to “keep the noise down.” She can laugh about it now.

When she heard another calling, she earned a Master’s from Loyola University in New Orleans and spent 11 years as Director of Religious Education, Pastoral Associate and Music Minister at St. Mary’s parish in Bullitt County, Kentucky. “St. Mary’s was wonderful. They taught me more than I taught them. In addition to religious education, we visited the sick, and people came to us for advice on all sorts of things.”

She served in Leadership three times and twice accepted music ministries at parishes that underwent church renovation. “It was very difficult because we had to fix up the gym at St. Helen’s for weekend mass. Then I was honored to be invited to Our Lady of Lourdes and was very involved in that renovation.”

Sister Antonine sat at the keyboard for mass until health issues slowed her down. She began volunteer ministry at Marian Home. Today, friends call her a prayer warrior.

“I would like to thank the Ursuline Community for giving me an excellent education.” She is delighted to know her music plays on. “I met a former student on the street and he hummed the warm-up exercise we used to do in class.”

Sister Lorraine Maginot

70 years — 1947
Current Ministry: Prayer and presence at the Ursuline Motherhouse

Previous Ministries: Teacher at St. Joseph, St. Rita, Our Lady of Lourdes, Sacred Heart Model School, St. Clement, Most Blessed Sacrament (all of Louisville, KY), St. Patrick (Sydney, NE), St. Mary (Cumberland, MD), Sacred Heart (Camden, MS), St. Agatha (Columbus, OH). Principal at St. Mary (Cumberland). Secretary at Office of Communication. Volunteer ministry at Ursuline Motherhouse and craft shop (Louisville) and Ursuline Convent (Iowa City, IA). Sacristan for Sacred Heart Model School. Ministry to family member. Tutor.

Born on Christmas, many pitied her for not having her “own” day, but Sister Lorraine Maginot has considered it a privilege to celebrate Christ’s birth on her special day each year. Her reverent outlook and happy disposition seem innate. Born in Calumet City, Illinois, Sister Lorraine had plenty of playmates with six brothers and three sisters. There was love, joy, and heartache. The household was quarantined with diphtheria, forcing her father to stay with neighbors so he could continue to work. Her younger sister did not recover, and died at age 20 months. “Little Alma lay in a coffin in the sun room,” she recalled. “My father could not even come in.”

A deep-seated spiritual life carried the family through those dark days. Sister Lorraine explained being first inspired to religious life. “My older sister took me to school when I was real little to meet the Sisters. That was it! I always enjoyed the Sisters.”

“We went to St. Victor’s School. It was a mile away and we had to walk,” she said. “In the winter, there was a lot of snow. Dad would lead us by making a path, and then he went off to work. Sometimes, when the weather was good, we’d come home for lunch and I would stop by the church to make a little visit.”

Taught by Sisters of Notre Dame in grade school, then Sisters of the Holy Cross in high school, Sister Lorraine’s family connection brought her to the Ursulines.

“I was in sixth grade when we got a car,” she recalled. “Mom had two sisters in the Ursuline Community, so we visited. We were sitting in the yard outside the Motherhouse and mom told them that I was thinking of going to the convent. Sister Josephine said, ‘She should come to us!’ God was guiding me. My aunts were happy that I came!” She was given the name, Sr. Juanita when she entered the Novitiate, then returned to her baptismal name in the 1960s.

Her happiest years were spent teaching, even if her first assignment came as a shock. “I got my obedience for St. Joseph’s and it said fifth grade and I almost died!” she laughed. “I was scared that first year because I did all my student teaching with the little ones. I made it through okay; the kids were nice.”

She believes she was born to be a teacher. “Even when I was growing up with three younger brothers, we would play school and I was the teacher,” she said. “I loved teaching, especially the little ones.”

Her teacher career zig-zagged cross-country: Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, Ohio, Iowa, and by slow-moving train to a boarding school in Nebraska. Her least-favorite obedience: one year as a principal. Through it all, she kept her sense of humor and a deep well of compassion, even volunteering to take on seventh grade from a Sister who was in tears over that assignment. “I just felt so sorry for her!”

Sr. Lorraine was excused from teaching temporarily in the 1990s to care for her older sister who was ill. She felt blessed to help. Her ministries also have included sacristan, tutor, housekeeper, secretary, craft shop contributor, and assistant with chapel renovation at Sacred Heart Academy.

“Religious life was my life. From first grade on, I always wanted to be a Sister. You know life; you have your ups and downs,” she said with a smile. “It’s not going to be perfect, but that’s anybody. My community helped me through and I am very grateful and thankful for each day and each Mass at the Motherhouse.”

Sister Bernadine Nash

70 years — 1947
Current Ministry: Prayer and presence at Sacred Heart Home

Previous Ministries: Principal at St. George, St Vincent de Paul, Our Mother of Sorrows (Louisville, KY), Blessed Sacrament (Omaha, NE), St. Philip (Mt. Vernon, IN). Teacher at St. George, Holy Spirit, St. Peter, St. Boniface, St. Raphael, St. Clement, Sacred Heart Model School (Louisville), St Patrick (North Platte, NE). Coordinator at Ursuline Motherhouse, Volunteer ministry at Jewish Hospital, Marian Home, Suburban Medical Center, Red Cross, Pine Tree Villa, Elderserve (Louisville).

Sister Bernadine Nash has a quick smile, a sparkle in her eye, and a penchant for storytelling. Perhaps it is her Irish roots, as her parents were born in Ireland. “I had a priest ask me why I joined this German community of Ursulines,” she laughed. “They were the ones who taught me, so I never considered joining any order BUT the Ursulines!” When she made her vows, she took her father’s name, Emmett. Today, she uses her baptismal name, Bernadine.

Born in 1925 in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, Sister Bernadine was the oldest of 11 children, including eight brothers. Her parents valued Catholic education. Her own education was once interrupted by the birth of a sibling. She returned home to help and eventually earned her degree, combining credits from Creighton University with those from Ursuline College. Let us back up a bit! Sister Bernadine’s first calling was not to the convent. She worked as a nurse’s aide at St. Joseph Infirmary in Louisville starting in 1942. Later, she was a long distance operator and supervisor for American Telephone & Telegraph in Louisville. While working for the phone company, she heard the “real” call – came to join the Ursulines.

“I was older when I entered. I went to my parish priest with a check to have a Mass said for me because I was going to the convent. He told me he would take the money for a Mass and that he would offer a second Mass for my perseverance. Well, here I am, at 92!”

Sister Bernadine’s roles as teacher and principal spanned more than thirty years and touched countless lives. She traversed schools in Kentucky, Indiana and Nebraska. Those seven years in Nebraska are dear to her, as seen in photos on display in her room at Sacred Heart Home. One black and white image shows four young boys she trained to be altar servers at St. Patrick’s. Alongside is Sister Bernadine, wearing a small smile and her traditional habit. “That serge was 100% wool and sometimes I would roast,” she laughed. “Of course, the kids obeyed us because we had all that gear on!”

“When I got in the convent and was with the children all the time, they kept me young. I really loved the children. I also liked math. One time another nun and I traded so that I took her math classes and she took my English classes.”

“Recently, I was at a funeral for a priest and a gentleman came up to me and asked, ‘Are you Sister Emmett?’” she recalled. After she explained her name change, he continued, “Oh, Sister,” he said, “You were the best teacher I ever had. May I hug you?” “Sure, go ahead!” she replied with a laugh. This student was from her very first year in the classroom at Holy Spirit, 67 years earlier. Sister Bernadine continued her education with graduate courses and workshops on a wide range of topics, from psychology and pastoral ministry to social ethics and data processing. When she closed the books on teaching, it was the birth of a new string of ministries, including coordinator at the Motherhouse, volunteer chaplain at Jewish Hospital, volunteer work at the Marian Home, and Elderserve, where she made welfare calls to shut-ins.

Today Sister Bernadine enjoys the daily newspaper, puzzles, and time for prayer. Asked what she thinks Saint Angela would tell her on this 70th Jubilee, she replied, “She’ll be waiting there for us. She will say, ‘Come on, girl!’”

Sister Raymunda Orth

70 years — 1947
Current Ministry: Prayer and presence at Sacred Heart Home

Previous Ministries: Teacher at St. George, St. Ann, St. Raphael, St. Elizabeth, St. Leo, St. Peter Claver, Ursuline Special Education Center (all of Louisville, KY), St. Mary (Madison, IN), West Side Catholic Consolidated Schools (Evansville, IN), St. Clement School and Ursuline-Pitt School (both of Louisville). Principal at St. Boniface Junior High School (Evansville, IN). Assistant Director of Finance for Ursuline Sisters, Assistant Principal/Dean of Students at Pitt Academy. Substitute Teacher at UCDC/Montessori, Administrative Assistant at Angela Merici Center for Spirituality, Ursuline Campus Mail Room. Organist at Ursuline Motherhouse Chapel and Sacred Heart Home (all of Louisville)

“Music is praying TWICE,” Sister Raymunda Orth exclaimed. “I like to pray and I like to play!” One look at the thick binder of organ music atop her desk and you take note.

Sister Raymunda started at the keyboard in third grade, after she raised her hand when asked if she would like to take music lessons. A moment later she regretted that move, as there was no piano at home and no money for lessons.“ We were poor, but we had what we needed and we were loved,” she said. “Daddy was a milkman for 45 years. They had six children and loved every one.” Her mother went to meet the nun who taught piano to explain there would be no lessons. God had other plans. Lessons soon began and the youngster was invited to practice at the Sisters’ home. Clarinet was added in fifth grade; organ in seventh. Organ stuck for good.

Sister Raymunda remembers fondly growing up in Evansville, Indiana, where she attended Catholic school. She and her older sister had perfect attendance through grade school and high school. She credits drinking milk for her good health and for fueling the mile-long walk to school. “I didn’t drink coffee until I got here, to Sacred Heart Home!” she laughed.

She said her call to religious life came through her music teacher, whose lessons included long chats afterwards. “It was through those talks. I was a junior in high school when I asked my mother what I would have to do to be a Sister. She told me that she didn’t know but that we could find out.” Two months shy of her eighteenth birthday, she moved exactly 100 miles from her childhood home to the Ursuline Motherhouse in Louisville.

She earned her undergraduate degree from Ursuline College, Louisville; a Master of Arts in special education from Cardinal Stritch College, Milwaukee; and took graduate courses at Catherine Spalding College (now Spalding University).

“I loved all kinds of teaching. I shook with nerves while awaiting each assignment, not knowing where I would be next, but I accepted with joy every one of them.” Her teaching career began at St. George in Louisville. Over the course of 30 years, she found herself in music rooms across Louisville as well as in Madison and Evansville, Indiana. Special education still holds a dear spot in her heart. “With special education, you can be freer. We had almost as many groups as we had children because it was very individualized.”

“This one girl was so cute. Patricia could make you laugh and smile for nothing. She was never absent. One day she came in late, stood in the doorway of the classroom with arms outstretched, and called out, ‘I’m here!’ I will never forget it,” she sat back and laughed.

After retirement came substitute teaching, plus work in the Angela Merici Center for Spirituality and the campus mail room. Her organ music prevailed at the Motherhouse Chapel and continued after her move to Sacred Heart Home. There, spread across her bed, is a quilt covered with signatures of people who love her.

“My older sister, Clara, made that quilt to celebrate my 60th Jubilee. I can hardly believe that it is 70 years now. I have been happy all these years.” Life has slowed down. Sister Raymunda still plays music, cards and likes to read, but prayer is front and center. “I have tried to be a good religious person. My prayers are mostly for the poor souls because that’s my birthday. I can’t say a prayer without saying it for the poor souls. I love my vocation.”

Sister Mary Lee Hansen

60 years — 1957
Current Ministry: Prayer and presence at Sacred Heart Home

Previous Ministries: Teacher at Our Mother of Sorrows, St. Raphael, Our Lady of Lourdes, Sacred Heart Model School (Louisville, KY), Blessed Sacrament (Omaha, NE), Cardinal Newman High School (Columbia, SC), Ursuline Academy (Pittsburgh, PA). Director of Communication and secretary for Ursuline Montessori School and Ursuline Administration Offices. Mail Room, Marian Home, Ursuline Motherhouse, Sacred Heart Village (Louisville). Artwork for various causes.

Sister Mary Lee Hansen is an artist who admires God’s handiwork in nature. In her room at Sacred Heart Home an electric candle flickers at the foot of the Blessed Virgin, watercolor brushes stand at attention on her desk, and violets sun themselves on the windowsill.

Sister Mary Lee grew up with one brother outside the Omaha, Nebraska, city limits. Too far from the Catholic elementary school, she began her education in public schools, including a one-room schoolhouse. In fifth grade she took the bus to Holy Cross; then, she was off to a public high school.

“I’m glad for the experience of both parochial and public schools,” she said. “It helped me understand the systems that our children are in.”

Her close-knit family lost her father when she was young. Then just after graduating from high school, she was diagnosed with polio. “I don’t see any of these things that have happened to me as something to mourn or to ask why God did that to me. That was not part of the way I thought. You look at God and look at what HE had to go through, and the Blessed Mother what SHE had to go through.” “Polio put me back a little bit,” she said. But it did not stop her.

“Sociology was a new field at the time and Creighton University was offering it. When I got well enough, I went to Creighton and the Jesuits were WONDERFUL.” They offered her a modified class schedule as she continued to recover, and she worked to pay her way through college. During her junior year, a priest told her it was time to enter the convent. She was 23.

“Being older and having worked was definitely an advantage for me. Those were good maturing years and I could look back and say I hadn’t MISSED anything because I had dated, I had gone to college,” she smiled. Sister Mary Lee travelled to Louisville to join the Ursulines. “The Ursulines were a combination of contemplative love and service of neighbor, which I see as extremely important in answering the call.”

“Having had polio actually helped my ministry, because you know the struggle that others are going through. It makes you slow down and take a look at the people who seemingly just can’t keep up.”Post-polio issues eventually forced her to give up something she loved. “I was only able to teach for a short while. After my second knee surgery, the doctor told me I could not teach anymore. That was difficult.”

“A friend told me that when the Lord closes one door, He opens another. I looked at the door and all I could see was darkness. But it worked out,” she smiled. The door opened to a new ministry: working for the Ursuline Leadership for more than 30 years. She found support to pursue things she enjoyed, like calligraphy, drawing, watercolor, and photography. She still pens calligraphy by request, takes photographs, and paints.

“When I get finished, I look at it and say: ‘That must be how God feels. It may not be perfect, but it’s mine’. God wouldn’t do this but, once in a while, I do pitch something,” she laughed. “I am grateful to the Ursuline Community for these 60 years. Sometimes it was easy. Sometimes it was hard. But that is actually life,” said the artist. “I see all the sisters, and we’re like a mosaic. We all fit together. And when you look at the mosaic, you see the hand of God.”

Sister Dolores Hudson

60 years — 1957
Current Ministry: Prayer and presence at the Ursuline Motherhouse

Previous Ministries: Teacher at St. Elizabeth, St. Helen (both of Louisville, KY), St. Peter (Columbia, SC), SS Peter & Paul (Cumberland, MD). Principal at St. Francis de Sales (Morgantown, WV), St. Vincent de Paul (Louisville, KY), St. John Neumann (Cumberland, MD). Coordinator of Retirement Success for Ursuline Sisters. Coordinator at Marian Home and Ursuline Motherhouse.

“We don’t retire. We are recycled!” Sister Dolores Hudson said with a laugh. Sister Dolores was born in Cumberland, Maryland, the middle child with six brothers and two sisters. She was taught by Ursulines at St. Mary’s School. “I came from an average family. My father was a railroader and my mother never worked outside the home with nine of us kids. We had a good education and we always had good food on our table.”

“In high school I worked in the hospital in the dietary kitchen. I was there with the nuns and I had a lot of dealings with nurses. I really thought I would like to be a nurse but, in discerning, I thought I would rather be a nun. I thought God was calling me, so here I am.”

Sister Dolores majored in elementary education at Ursuline College. Her teaching career began in Louisville and eventually led her back home. “I was sent to Maryland, which I felt was lucky. While there, I earned my Master’s Degree.”

She taught first grade for 17 years and has funny stories to prove it. “One day little Danny said, ‘Hey, S’ter.’ He didn’t call me Sister, he called me S’ter. He said, ‘Do you think you’re training an army?’ I asked why. He said, ‘You say do this, do that. Get in line. Just like they do in the army!’ I said, ‘Well, I guess an army for Christ.’ He asked, ‘You can’t use guns, so what’s your ammunition?’ I said, ‘Prayers.’ He paused, then said, ‘Hmm. Pretty good.’ And that was the end of it.”

When assigned to be a principal, “I told Sister Assumpta that I couldn’t do it because I didn’t have the background.” Ever-obedient, she accepted, learned on-the-job, and earned another Master’s Degree. “Being a principal is not easy. One of the best things you have to do is give a lot of credit to your teachers and let them do their job without interfering. I had a great faculty and staff in all three schools.”

While in Morgantown, Sister Dolores marked her 25th Jubilee. Parents there gifted her with a trip to Rome. Her eight siblings pooled their money and bought a ticket for their mother to go along. “It was a trip of a lifetime,” she smiled.

Eventually she requested a move to the inner city of Louisville. “Those students at St. Vincent de Paul were so loving and I felt very close to them.” Sister arranged field trips for the children: a picnic at Hogan’s Fountain, a tour of a horse farm, and a visit to the state capitol.

Sister believes it was divine intervention that sent her back to Cumberland. “The first nine years I was there, my father died,” she explained. “When I returned, my mother died. I think it was part of God’s plan.”

Sister also had a plan: boost enrollment. Parents were quick to donate. “It was only a K-5 school but we added three bell choirs. It really sold the school. We went from 233 to 333 children.” A similar success story followed her idea to add a computer lab.

Eventually she left the principal’s office but she never retired. “I really enjoyed going to Open Hand Kitchen (in Louisville) because that’s a meditation in itself, the homeless people coming in to eat. How blessed we have been, both in my home and in my community.”

“My parents would be very happy about this Jubilee,” she smiled. “If they were here, I would thank them for the religious education they gave me and for their example of living a good, Catholic life.”

Sister Jo Ann Jansing

60 years — 1957
Current Ministry: Ursuline Leadership

Previous Ministries: Teacher at St. Ann and Angela Merici High School (both Louisville, KY). Professor at Mount St. Agnes College (Baltimore, MD). Professor at Indiana University Southeast (New Albany, IN). Ursuline Leadership. Volunteer at Nativity Academy and at Shively Area Ministries (Louisville).

Her Ursuline Leadership office is at Brescia Hall, where she is called Sister Jo Ann. Former students still address her as Dr. Jansing. She answers to both. Born the only girl of four children, she grew up as ‘Daddy’s girl.’ “When I was a kid, they had a holy hour every Thursday at St. George Church,” Sister Jo Ann smiled. “I just wanted to go to that holy hour with my dad.”

Taught by Ursulines, she had two cousins who were priests and three aunts who were nuns. She felt an expectation to follow suit. “In high school I started resisting it, wanting to do what everybody else was doing. Then I went to a Catholic Student Mission Crusade. I can’t even tell you what the man said but one of the speakers really hit my heart. I knew that I would never forgive myself if I didn’t try.”

Her decision thrilled her father but made her mother cry. “She asked if I was joining the convent because she was not Catholic. I said, ‘NO, Mom.’ From then on, she never said anything to discourage me. She wanted me to be happy.” Soon after Jo Ann entered the convent her mother became a Catholic.

Earning her undergraduate degree took nine years, as it was done through classes on Saturday while she taught through the week. Her focus was chemistry, inspired by a young nun at Ursuline Academy in Louisville. “I loved it because Sister Assumpta taught it!”

After several years of teaching, Sister Jo Ann was asked to pursue a doctorate to teach physical chemistry at Ursuline College. When cooperative talks between Ursuline College and Bellarmine meant the merged college needed analytical chemistry, she switched her major at Fordham University.

“Living in New York City made me look upon people differently. I would come home and my dad would see a kid with long hair and call him a hippie. I didn’t see that anymore because I saw LOADS of different kinds of people that didn’t look like me. It was a broadening experience to be there in the midst of that diversity.”

As graduation approached, Bellarmine had no job opening. The community told her to find one.

She spent one year at Mount St. Agnes College in Baltimore before moving to a rather new Indiana University Southeast campus just across the river from Louisville. “Indiana University Southeast (IUS) was hard for me at first, as I never thought I would not teach at a Catholic institution. It was two to three years before it dawned on me that ministry didn’t have to be in the Church, that my relationship with my students was a ministry. When (students) came into my office in the fall, they would say, ‘Can I ask you a question? Are you really a nun?’” She laughed. “I can’t tell you how many heart-to-heart conversations we shared in my office. It was clear to me that I was where I was supposed to be.”

Still, doubt crept in. “There was a time when I wondered whether I was going to leave the community. So I made a retreat by myself for a week. I went to St. Michael’s Cemetery and I started out at Sister Salesia’s [foundress of the Ursulines of Louisville] grave. I walked from one grave to the next and I said their name and ‘pray for me.’ Every single grave of our community! When I finished, I stood in the middle of that cemetery and I sobbed because I knew that this was where I belonged, this was for real, this was for life.”

She taught for 36 years, 31 of them at Indiana University Southeast where she was head of the chemistry department and later chair of the natural sciences. Now, she marks 60 years of religious life. “The biggest part of it is community and sisterhood. God has shown me where I belong.”

Sister Barbara Bir

50 years — 1967
Current Ministry: Tutor for Doors to Hope. Spiritual Director. Retreat Director. Board Member at Pitt Academy.

Previous Ministries: Teacher at St. Elizabeth and St. Jerome (Louisville). Teacher/Assistant Principal at St. Francis de Sales (Morgantown, WV). Principal at Our Mother of Sorrows and St. Martha, Personnel Services for Schools of the Archdiocese, Assistant Director & Education Director at Community Catholic Center and Formation Director for Ursuline Sisters (all in Louisville).

The Bir Family – There were six girls, each had a boy nickname. Not until she started school did the second-born recognize her name in writing. It was there on her desk: Barbara. She was quiet and shy, and took refuge in reading. She acted as caretaker of her older sister who was deaf. When her mother got sick, she cared for the younger girls, too. “We walked to story hour at the library, me with my four younger sisters in tow. Sometimes we stopped to get penny candy on the way home.”

There were happy summers spent in the park, and painful days in overcrowded classrooms.
“My first grade teacher shamed me in front of the class,” she said. “I resolved then to never shame my sisters or my cousins that I babysat.”

In seventh grade, Barbara was invited to help in the sacristy at St. James Church. “We went to Latin mass daily. We didn’t understand anything, so I read my missal which had prayers and stories about the saints. I would feel really close to God there. I think that was the beginning of my vocation.”

“I came to the Motherhouse, all of 17, just out of high school. I graduated cum laude from Bellarmine-Ursuline College. My way of discerning where I was going to teach was to accept the first invitation extended by a Sister,” she laughed. Sister Alberta called and asked her to teach fourth grade at St. Elizabeth. “I just LOVED it. It was so much work but I loved teaching.” One year, she had five students who could not read a word come into fourth grade. She devised differentiated lessons. No one would be shamed in her classroom.

The shy girl of her childhood gave way to a teacher known over the years as Sister Barbara Anne, Sister Barbara, Sister B, and Sister Mom. “Some sisters were really encouraging me to be a principal. I decided to go to Morgantown to be assistant principal. I had this rapport with the kids and I learned a lot about myself.”

Before she felt ready, she was named principal at Our Mother of Sorrows in Louisville and was told to close the school. “I’m not closing it,” I said, “I kept it open and, little by little, it grew. My years there were sometimes tough and a blessing.”

Then she made a change. She worked as personnel director for the Archdiocese of Louisville Schools. She studied to be a spiritual director. Later she was Formation Director for the Ursuline Sisters and a spiritual director before spending ten years at Community Catholic Center in West Louisville.

“My goal was to educate the parents and get a Catholic education for the children because the culture (there) was drop out of school, girls get pregnant, boys join a gang. I learned about poverty and the hopelessness it brings.”

She started family meetings and worked with donors to help fund students’ Catholic education.

“We’ve had children graduate from Catholic and public high schools,” she said with a smile. “Not long ago, one of the boys I had there came up to me and said, ‘Sister Barbara, I haven’t seen you in ages’ and gave me a bear hug. I just loved those kids and they knew it. The ultimate is seeing these young people have a new lease on life.”

Multiple spinal surgeries now limit Sr. Barbara’s activities, but not her appreciation for those around her. “I am so blessed to have been in community. I’ve grown closer to God in this community. Sharing the love of Jesus is what it is all about.”

Sister Lynn Jarrell

50 years — 1967
Current Ministry: Canonical Consultant

Previous Ministries: Teacher at Sacred Heart Academy (Louisville, KY), Gymnasium der Ursulinen (Straubing, Germany), SS. Peter and Paul, Bishop Walsh High School (both of Cumberland, MD). Diocesan Tribunal (Evansville, IN). Kendrick Seminary/Aquinas Institute of Theology (St. Louis, MO).Vice-President, Ursuline Sisters of Louisville. President, Canon Law Society of America. San Francisco Tribunal/Consultant and Teacher in Canon Law. St. Patrick Seminary, Menlo Park/Jesuit School of Theology (Berkley, CA). Resource Center for Religious Institute (Washington, D.C.). President, Ursuline Sisters of Louisville. Working with Religious Congregations.

“Consecrated Life is a BEAUTIFUL way of life. In one sense it doesn’t make any sense at all. You can’t explain it, but it’s a beautiful way of life if you are called to it.”

Sister Lynn Jarrell said her call came in the fourth grade. She entered the convent two months after graduating from high school and could hardly wait to stand at the front of the classroom. “It’s always what I wanted to do, teach,” she said with a smile. “I went to Ursuline and Bellarmine. It was great from the moment go.”

She was named “Star Teacher” at Sacred Heart Academy, where she was also speech and debate coach and even swim coach. “I knew high school was my calling. I loved the students. Speech and debate developed self-confidence, teamwork, critical thinking. Mostly, teaching was just supporting them in their life journey. That’s why it is such a privilege to teach.”

After teaching five years at Sacred Heart, she eagerly accepted an invitation extended by the Ursuline Sisters in Straubing, Germany. “I had to leave Sacred Heart, which was hard, but I am grateful that I was able to live there [in Straubing] with our founding community for a year. I taught English as a foreign language, and I worked with the basketball team. I lived their life totally, even speaking German. I am still very connected with those Sisters and have great respect for them.”

Upon her return home, she was sent to teach in Cumberland, Maryland. “That was a real gift. I got immersed in that experience, especially the parish life and the local community, and I treasure that greatly. I enjoyed being in and out of Washington, D.C., too.”

Then, Sister Lynn was asked by the community to further her own studies beyond her Masters Degree in Communications with pursuing a Doctorate in Canon Law at the Catholic University of America.

“It meant I left the classroom, which was a bit sad, and that I would most likely live some distance from Louisville for much of my professional life because of the nature of a canon law degree. Those were big decisions, especially at my age at that time.”

Since completing her doctorate in 1984, Sister Lynn has continued to serve religious institutes and other individuals as a canonical consultant on a wide-range of topics and concerns. “I have about 10 to 12 active cases right now with a few of them involving issues at the Vatican, waiting for answers. I have done work with religious in parts of Europe, Africa, South America, Canada and the USA. Plus I have worked in the national office of the Resource Center for Religious. All of it has given me a broad perspective for the various conversations which arise. I have friends in different parts of the world.”

She is increasingly immersed in helping religious institutes plan for their future in light of some difficult realities. She sees the impending decline in the number of religious institutes as part of the cycle of creation and of the human condition in which nothing is permanent.

“The great news, this is absolutely positive to me, is that the decline in the number of religious institutes will open the door for some other movement of grace and gifts in the Church or in the world. I believe this is the way God’s grace works.”

It is with grace that she summed up her 50 years of consecrated life. “Deep gratitude is what I most feel as I celebrate this year. How richly blessed I have been all these years, with companions in our common faith journey and in my development as a person, living community in a simple lifestyle and available in service in whatever way I can.”

Sister Shannon Maguire

50 years — 1967
Current Ministry: Assistant to Finance Director, Ursuline Sisters of Louisville

Previous Ministries: Teacher Ursuline Academy (Pittsburgh), Angela Merici High School (Louisville), and St. Francis de Sales High School (Morgantown, WV); teacher, assistant principal /dean of students at Sacred Heart Academy (Louisville). Ministry to elderly parents. House Councilor and Co-Coordinator at the Ursuline Motherhouse.

The gold wedding band she wears on her left hand was her grandmother’s. It symbolizes a 130-year connection to the Ursuline Sisters. “My grandparents met at an Ursuline boarding school (a different branch of Ursulines) in the early 1890s,” explained Sister Shannon Maguire.

“My grandmother was the daughter of Quakers. Because they valued education, they sent her from Wyoming to York, Nebraska, to be educated by the Ursulines beginning in fourth grade. She remained there until she graduated from high school.” Later, Sister Shannon’s mother and aunt briefly attended the same Ursuline boarding school.

In the late 40s, the Maguire family moved to Blessed Sacrament Parish in Omaha and met the Ursulines from Louisville. All five Maguire children attended Blessed Sacrament Grade School. “My grade school teachers influenced me greatly. As I celebrate my 50th, it’s amazing that four of those teachers are still alive—Sisters Isabel, Bernadine, Shirley Ann, and Georgine. Sister Andrea Callahan, who passed away two years ago, was my eighth grade teacher and was most influential in my life.”

Sister Shannon thought a bit about the convent in high school. After spending two years in college, she decided it was time to take a closer look. “There it was, August of 1966; I entered the community having never been to Louisville. There wasn’t a need to come and check it out. I had seen the dedication and kindness of the Ursuline Sisters.” A treasured photograph shows Sister Shannon in her white veil on investment day. Sister Andrea is at her side, wearing a broad smile.

“Years later, when my mother needed a nursing home – I had been caring for my parents and my father had already passed away – I was fortunate to bring my mother to Marian Home. She joined Sister Pat Lowman’s Marian bridge group. Sister Pat had taught my older sibs at Blessed Sacrament. That is full circle!”

Sister Shannon recalled with fondness her varied ministries, especially as a teacher who sometimes also wore the hat of Dean of Students. “I had one student request that I give her a wake-up each morning because she had so many tardies and didn’t like reporting to detention. I called her regularly at 6:45 a.m.”

“I remember the first Earth Day in April of 1970. A group of Ursulines and SHA students joined the march through the city. We stopped at our different convents for water breaks.”

“I have seen former students in many places, from Colorado to Florida. It is evident that they are living the Ursuline core values.”

There were many years when she was co-coordinator at the Motherhouse. “I remember the renovation of the west and middle wings at the motherhouse, done in phases. Every three months a group of 15 sisters had to be re-located. Janet Sauer and I got so adept at helping sisters move that we were later dubbed ‘Two Ladies and a Van’ as we were asked to move sisters to or from different convents.”

“You never knew what to expect at birthday parties at the Motherhouse. We once had Wheel of Fortune with Sister Isabel as Vanna.”

Today, Sister Shannon ministers in the Finance Office of the Ursuline Sisters. The Charism of Angela Merici – a contemplative love of God resulting in an eagerness to serve others — has been a constant. “I have been blessed to have made two pilgrimages to Italy, where Angela Merici had been. We know she was a woman of compassion, inner strength, peace, a pilgrim woman, a reconciler. Just to walk in her footsteps there, it was quite an experience.”

Sister Katherine Corbett

10 years-2007
Current Ministry: Healthcare director of the Ursuline Sisters, residing at the Motherhouse and at off-site locations, assessing and overseeing the healthcare needs of the sisters.

Previous Ministries: Registered nurse in the following capacities: hospital nursing; working with fragile children with the Department of Social Services; home health care nursing; and long-term care at the former Marian Home, a nursing facility run by the Ursuline Sisters.

Sister Katherine states, “Ten years since I first started on this journey of religious life, and of fully living the charism of St. Angela, it now amazes me when I look back at all the challenges and blessings involved in it. Going on daily with the experiences and responsibilities of that journey, I hardly had time to reflect on what was happening. Now, as I look back, I feel very blessed and honored to be walking with my older Sisters as they face health challenges, and to be in a calling in which I am there to help them with those challenges. The challenge is also mine in the need always to be learning more: professionally as a nurse, personally with the other Sisters, and spiritually with God, knowing that all three of these are woven together in my calling.”

Today, Sr. Katherine plays the vital role of nurse and healthcare director at the Ursuline Motherhouse and is also available for emergencies that might arise with sisters who reside elsewhere.

Sister Mary Teresa Burns

25 years —1990
Current Ministry: Chaplain

Previous Ministries: Caregiver, prayer and presence at the Carmelite Monastery of Mary Immaculate and St. Joseph (Louisville, KY).

Sister draws inspiration from the life of Saint Theresa of Lisieux, as well as from the Ursuline sisters and all of their contributions to the community.

“I know a lot of Catholic girls go through a phase where they want to be a nun but mine never wore off,” laughs Sr. Mary Teresa Burns. One of five girls, Sr. Mary Teresa was born in Germany. Her father, a convert, was a career army sergeant. Her mother faithfully followed him from one military base to the next, and eventually they landed back in her hometown of Louisville where Sr. Mary Teresa completed grade school at St. Francis of Assisi, before attending Assumption High School and enrolling at Bellarmine University.

“When I was 29, I had a conversion experience during Holy Week at St. Martin of Tours Church. It clarified for me that I actually wanted to devote my life to serving God.” Because her parents lived near the Ursuline Campus, her mother had hoped she would join the Ursuline Sisters and be able to walk home occasionally. Instead a book about Saint Theresa of Lisieux, gifted to her during childhood, led her to the Carmelite tradition. She joined the Monastery of Mary Immaculate and St. Joseph, for the first time, in October 1990.

“I left after four months because I couldn’t handle how unhappy it made my mother,” she recalled. “As soon as I went home, I thought it was a mistake. It took me about a year to go back. I returned in 1992 and after that, I was happier than I had ever been in my entire life. I could not explain that to others because they didn’t have my vocation.”

For 24 years, she lived a cloistered life on Newburg Road in Louisville. “People talk about religious life being a sacrifice: How much we give up. I was happy. I was doing what I wanted to do. The sacrifices were all being made by my family who could only see me once a month, who didn’t have me at home for Christmas and Thanksgiving, who didn’t have me at home for baptisms, weddings and funerals. So, as far as I could see, THEY were the ones making the sacrifice. For me, it was easy.”

For Sr. Mary Teresa, the painful loss of cloistered life has unveiled an unexpected journey to become a chaplain. “I NEVER would have thought of being a chaplain until I was introduced to it through the Ursulines,” she explained with a smile. “I am seeing the contribution these fabulous women have made to the Archdiocese. It has made me feel more enriched as a woman, more involved, and more appreciative of what women can offer, what ministries we can undertake. I was just so charmed by the way the Ursuline Sisters welcomed us, included us in everything and how good they have been to us. If I had had expectations, they would have been exceeded.”

As she anticipates her 25th year of religious life in October, Sr. Mary Teresa has a message for the Ursuline Sisters of Louisville: “Thank you! Thank you!”

Sister Carol Curtis

25 years —1990
Current Ministry: Outreach; Shively Area Ministries, St. John’s Center

Previous Ministries: Prioress; care-giving, gardening at the Carmelite Monastery of Mary Immaculate and St. Joseph (Louisville).

Born in Illinois and raised in a faith-filled Protestant family, Sr. Carol entered the Catholic Church at age 20 while in Taiwan as a Dartmouth University student. After serving in the Peace Corps in Africa, she worked to pay off student loans then entered the monastery on her 26th birthday.

“It is a life where you pray together; a very close life because it’s cloistered,” she explained. “For 25 years it was my life: working in the garden, working in the house, and a great deal of care-giving which is a beautiful experience.”

With a dwindling and aging population, the Carmelite Monastery in Louisville closed its doors in August 2015. As prioress, Sr. Carol led the way for each of the eight Carmelites to find a new home. Three of them, including Sr. Carol and Sr. Mary Teresa, settled into the Ursuline Motherhouse on Lexington Road. Now, both Sr. Carol and Sr. Mary Teresa are in the midst of a three-year transition to become Ursuline Sisters.

“Because of the coincidence of my 25th anniversary coming right at the time of the move, there was a sense of this being a special time from God of reconsecrating in a different way,” Sr. Carol explained. Exposure to the Angela Merici Center for Spirituality and the shared contemplative ministries of the Ursulines prompted Sr. Carol to consider her vocation as evolving—not as repudiating of what was there before, but as a new ministry unfolding.

“There is a lot of common ground,” said Sr. Carol. “It’s not just common ground between religious Sisters, but basically we are all in this together and God is with us all. Participating in the Angela Merici Center was the first part of it. And exploring the active social justice ministries has been important to me in reaching out to the poor.” She has worked with Shively Area Ministries and at the St. John’s Center for Homeless Men.

Sister Dorothy Frankrone

75 Years – 1941
Current Ministry: Prayer and presence, Sacred Heart Home

Previous Ministries: Teacher at St. Boniface, St. George, Holy Trinity, St. Therese, St. Vincent de Paul, St. Rita, St. Joseph (all of Louisville, KY), St. Mary (Jackson, MS), Sacred Heart School (Camden, MS). Superior at St. Boniface (Evansville, IN). Coordinator, Ursuline Motherhouse. Speech therapist/pathologist/director at Ursuline Speech and Hearing Clinic (Louisville, KY). Volunteer at Marian Home and cafeteria cashier at Sacred Heart Model School (Louisville, KY).

As a Speech Pathologist, Sister Dorothy’s Patient Instruction Led to Joy-Filled Results

In 1987, Sister Dorothy Frankrone delighted many by sharing reflections from her life. Her reflection begins by recalling the day in 1940 when she left her parents and seven sisters and brothers to “Come follow Jesus.”

These days, Sister Dorothy resides at Sacred Heart Home in a ministry of prayer and presence following a long history of service, particularly as a speech pathologist at the Ursuline Speech and Hearing Clinic that once stood on the Ursuline Campus in Louisville, KY.

Sister Dorothy was baptized in the same Louisville parish, St. Martin of Tours, where the first Ursulines and many of their followers served. For her first three years of school she “timidly marched” to St. Martin to be taught by Ursuline Sisters Julia Schuler, Pacifica Nicklas and Mary Magdalen Schmidt. Having outgrown the house they shared with grandparents, Sister Dorothy’s family moved to a new house and attended St. Elizabeth Church.

In fourth grade she had her first lay teacher, Miss Dorothy Hillenbrand, because Father John Knue, the pastor, could not get enough Ursuline Sisters, she explained. The following four years, she had the “prayerful, self-sacrificing womanly Ursuline Sisters.”

During her eighth grade year, Father Knue gave special instructions to her class, occasionally talking about religious life. “I would think it over in my mind and heart that I really would become a ‘sister’ someday. However, I gave some thought to having a family and home of my own, also.”

She confided that her aunt, Ursuline Sister Mary Eunice, “must have prayed hard for me but never said much to me about being a nun.”

Sister Dorothy entered Ursuline Academy (Louisville) and took academic classes, including Latin and French. She spent a lot of time thinking about her future but did not want to enter the Ursuline Congregation after her high school graduation. She was 17 and cleaned houses and took care of children in order to earn and save the money needed to buy the proper clothes for entering the Ursuline Congregation. One of her schoolmates, Mary Catherine Dues, was also planning to enter the Ursulines, and so the twosome shared knowledge and helped each other.

She was 19 when her aunt Gertrude took her to the Ursuline Motherhouse on September 8, 1940. While her mother was happy with the decision, Sister Dorothy’s father found it difficult and attended an event outside of Louisville on the day she departed to join six other novices. “We were kept very busy with tasks so that we had little time to get homesick. I felt very much at home and loved my newly chosen life.”

She attended Ursuline College during her religious formation. During her second year of studies, she also began student teaching. On July 4, 1943, Sister Dorothy professed temporary vows. “That was a very happy, grace-filled day. I tried to make the vows as if I were making them for life and I meant it. This was what I really wanted to be—an Ursuline Sister.”

She was assigned to teach third and fourth grades at St. Boniface School (Louisville), intent on teaching and forming them. Sister Norberta Rickert guided her and soon she learned to love being in the classroom. She professed her final vows in 1946. Over the next eight years she taught at schools in Louisville and then for four years taught at St. Mary in Jackson, MS. During the summer she also instructed black children at Sacred Heart School in Camden, MS, 50 miles from Jackson.

She returned to Louisville in 1956, and outside of a teaching assignment for two years in Evansville, IN, (“sometimes called ‘Heavens-ville’ because it was so lovely”), she remained in Louisville to teach at St. Vincent de Paul and St. Rita. Meanwhile, she had been asked if she would be interested in becoming a speech clinician. She agreed and began summer studies at Marquette University, an endeavor that would take six summers.

Meanwhile, she served as superior at St. Joseph School in 1967. The summer of that year marked the first delegated chapter meeting. “As a Chapter delegate, I spent long hours for many weeks deliberating with the other Chapter members on how our Ursuline Community would respond to Vatican II.”

At the request of the new leadership, Sister Dorothy became the local coordinator for the Ursuline Motherhouse until 1970. That same year, she completed her master’s degree in speech pathology. She began working full-time at the Ursuline Speech and Hearing Clinic.

She had this to say about her ministry serving stroke patients, people with voice problems and stutterers, among others: “I dare say I love it even more than I ever did before. Yes, it is confining work with long hours of teaching and preparing. It demands much patience and can become monotonous. But the joy of a parent whose child has made progress in speech and language and the happiness of the child who can communicate his/her needs better are more than enough reward.”

Sister Dorothy became director of the Speech Clinic in 1981 until 1995. Afterward, she volunteered at Marian Home and served as the cashier for Sacred Heart Model School until 2002. She continued other volunteer work and became a resident in Marian Home in 2009. She now lives at Sacred Heart Home.

Sister Dorothy has never doubted her vocation. She wrote in 1987, “My decision to become an Ursuline, back in 1940, has been a very happy and fulfilling decision. … I thank God for calling me to this Ursuline Community and for the desire to teach and the great joy I have in fulfilling this desire.”

Sister Dorothy’s ministry has testified to the message behind three letters typed at the top of her reflection: “S.D.G.” –standing for “Glory to God Alone.”

Sister Mary Brendan Conlon

70 Years – 1946
Current Ministries: Volunteer at St. John’s Center, Kentucky Correctional Institute for Women, Doors to Hope, Open Hand Kitchen

Previous Ministries: Teacher at Sacred Heart Model School, St. Elizabeth, Ursuline Academy, Sacred Heart Academy (all of Louisville), Blessed Sacrament School and Creighton University (Omaha, NE), St. Francis de Sales High School and St. Francis de Sales Grade School (Morgantown, WV), Bishop Walsh High School and SS. Peter and Paul Grade School (Cumberland, MD), Russell Junior High School (Louisville). Campus minister at West Virginia University for St. John University Parish (Morgantown, WV). Director of Christian Help, Inc. (Morgantown, WV). Witness for Peace (Nicaragua, CA). Founder and director of Christian Help, Inc., of Mingo County (Kermit, WV).

Sister Brendan Loves Mountains and Helps Others Climb Theirs

Sister Mary Brendan Conlon has always enjoyed climbing mountains. Whether they were those of her youth surrounding her hometown of Cumberland, MD, or the mountainous region of the West Virginia landscape where she ministered for 33 years, mountains are something of a lodestar.

She was a happy child, raised by loving parents and sandwiched between two brothers. “I owe a lot of my faith life to those years.” Her mother was prayerful and shy and her father was an Irishman who loved people. “They complemented each other,” she said. Politics played an important role in the fabric of the family. Her father served as a city councilman and then as mayor of Cumberland, MD, during Sister Brendan’s high school years. “I learned a lot from him,” she said. “He was very compassionate, very concerned about people and about justice.”

While she stocked shelves at Montgomery Ward in high school, she realized that working only to buy things seemed like “an endless cycle.” A different aspiration grew. “The desire to give my life to God developed in my early years. It started in the mountains.”

Growing up, she and her brother loved hiking on Haystack Mountain. But often she would walk alone to nearby Rose Hill Cemetery nestled in the hills. “It was one of my favorite walks. I really think it is where I learned to pray.” Her whole four years of high school were war years, and she believes that influenced her thinking about life and her future.

Church was important, but she preferred quiet time to “church teen things.” Mass was always important. For years she weighed thoughts of a vocation to religious life. As a high school sophomore, she shared this desire with her mother but didn’t tell her father until graduation. He supported her decision immediately. “He was wonderful,” said Sister Brendan. (For years, her father carried in his pocket the poem, “I’m the Daddy of a Nun.”)

Her father’s love for justice and concern for others influenced her ministry. She considered joining the Maryknoll Sisters but decided on the Ursulines. “I loved to study and hoped that I would love teaching, and I did. I loved the Ursulines, too–the teachers I had.” Sister Jerome Boyle, a teacher her junior year, was a mentor. At the end of her walks she often stopped for a visit with Sr. Jerome in her classroom and then a visit to “St. Pete’s,” her parish church. She also recalled her inquiry about entering the congregation. “I had Mother take me to St. Mary’s to speak with Mother Roberta when I was a junior. I didn’t tell my classmates until the summer after graduation.”

She remembered the night before Christmas before entering the convent, thinking it would be her last Christmas at home. “God, only for you,” she thought. But through the years, as after that night, one thing she has learned: “It’s the giving and then He gives back everything.”

After her investment (1946) and first profession (1948), Sister Brendan began her teaching career at Sacred Heart Model School and St. Elizabeth grade school in Louisville. After final profession in 1951, she was sent to Blessed Sacrament in Omaha, where she studied at Creighton University. In 1954 she completed a bachelor’s degree in English, with minors in French and philosophy, and was assigned to Ursuline Academy in Louisville. After a “happy year” of teaching there, she was sent back to Creighton as a teaching fellow and earned her master’s degree in English in 1956. Then she was assigned to Sacred Heart Academy in Louisville, where she spent the next 11 years imparting her passion for literature. “I loved the girls, and teaching them was a pleasure.”

As much as she enjoyed being at Sacred Heart, she eventually became restless for “a different kind of school.” “I always felt called to work with the poor. At Sacred Heart I wasn’t doing that, but I always tried to teach the girls about justice and concern for the poor.”

In 1967 she was assigned to St. Francis de Sales High School in Morgantown, WV, but after one year there, she was called to a leadership role and served for two years as a councilor and the congregation’s director of communication, followed by a year of teaching in an experimental program at Russell Junior High in Louisville. In 1971 she took a position at Bishop Walsh High School in Cumberland, MD, to be close to her failing mother, who was alone since her husband’s death in 1963. She lived with and cared for her mother the last six years of her mother’s life, while teaching at Bishop Walsh. “After my mother died, the congregation offered me a sabbatical, and I went to Gonzaga University in Spokane. There I did some discerning and decided it was time to really do something about working with the poor.”

She returned to Morgantown to take over the directorship of Christian Help, an emergency assistance agency begun by Sister Thecla Shiel during her time as principal at St. Francis Grade School. Until Christian Help became so busy that it demanded full -time presence, she also taught a class at the grade school and worked at St. John University Parish with social concerns and the Newman Club. Over the years she became involved in “peace work,” which included several protests in Washington and a year with Witness for Peace in Nicaragua, visiting the sites of contra attacks with other Witness team members and documenting them for reports sent to Congress. In 1992 she completed a master’s degree in Applied Theology from Wheeling Jesuit University in Wheeling, WV, which gave a “solid foundation” to her work in social justice causes.

After 12 busy years at Christian Help she and another Ursuline, Sister Janet Marie Peterworth, began to plan “something we’d dreamed about for years, doing something for God’s people in some rural, needy place.” They found that place in Mingo County in southern West Virginia. In 1994 Sister Brendan opened another Christian Help center in the little town of Kermit, and Sister Janet Marie became director of ABLE Families, which worked to combat the systemic causes of poverty. Their work provided emergency assistance for those in crisis and also organized very real ways for area residents to carve out better, fuller lives.

Sister Brendan has been inspired by those she has met in southern West Virginia, where she and Sister Janet Marie were the only Catholics in the town of Kermit. “They live beautiful, faith-filled lives. Many have to live very simply, but they have great trust in God. That’s what matters to them.”

After 20 years in Mingo, the two returned to the Ursuline Motherhouse in 2014. Sister Brendan now volunteers at St. John Center (a drop-in shelter for homeless men), works with several adults learning English as a second language, and visits with incarcerated women at the regional prison.

She has come to know St. Angela Merici through the years and to value her trusting, independent spirit and strong faith in God to found a community of women late in life. “She was a pretty modern saint, way before her time, “ she added. “It was what God wanted, and that was it.”

She reflected on her own vocation to religious life and the tremendous support of her congregation for projects like Christian Help. “I’m grateful I joined the Ursulines. I’ve loved the life and the things I was able to do.”

She values St. Angela’s charism that binds together contemplation with service. “The one has founded and grounded the other,” she pondered. “It’s the way I’ve wanted life to be.”

Sister Evelina (Mary Roger) Pisaneschi

70 Years – 1946
Current Ministry: Volunteer, Sacred Heart Home and the Motherhouse

Previous Ministries: Teacher at St. Elizabeth, St. Peter Claver, St. Boniface, Our Lady of Lourdes, Ursuline College, Sacred Heart Model School, St. Therese (all of Louisville, KY), St. Francis de Sales (Morgantown, WV). Principal at Holy Spirit School, St. Therese and St. John Vianney (all of Louisville, KY) and Our Lady of Mercy-Blessed Sacrament (Pittsburgh, PA). Assistant director of Ursuline Campus Services. Assistant to Formation Mentoring Community.

Gift of Vocation Causes Sister Evelina to ‘Shout for Joy’. To meet Sister Evelina Pisaneschi is to meet joy personified.

Joy first was infused into her childhood as the blonde-haired, blue-eyed daughter of Italian parents who raised four children. “I had a brother, Albert, 18 months older than I. We did everything together and had a lot of fun growing up in Cumberland, MD.”

Two sisters, Janet and Patricia, were born years later. Sister Evelina taught them to read and write before they entered school. “My childhood and school years were full of happiness. I had many friends and my life centered around St. Mary’s parish.”

She was active at weekly bingos, card parties and enjoyed playing the violin in both the parish junior and senior orchestras. “We had weekly dances and I loved to jitterbug.”

The Blessed Mother has always been important to her and while attending St. Mary’s High School. As a high school freshman she became involved in the Sodality of Our Lady. Attached to her rosary to this day is a large miraculous medal she received from that organization. One of Sister Evelina’s special memories is being voted as May Queen while in high school.

From an early age, one wish was clear to Sister Evelina: “All my life, I wanted to be holy like my Mother, (Ursuline) Sister Helene Jones and Mary Breighner (the housekeeper for the St. Mary’s parish priests).”

Her mother often talked to her about God, and exemplified the holiness Sister Evelina sought. Sister Helene was her first grade teacher. “I remember her as being very patient and kind, and she had a very joyful smile.”

On walks home from school Sister Evelina would visit Mary, who would be on the rectory’s back porch reading Thomas A. Kempis’ “The Imitation of Christ.” “Mary would read from it and we would talk about what was read,” Sister Evelina remembered.” When I left home for the convent, she gave me a copy of ‘The Imitation.’”

If holiness was what she sought, there was a sure way to obtain it. “I think forever I felt I always wanted to be holy and people who were holy were nuns.”

Initially, her calling met with resistance from her father, but it was a mark of how deeply he loved and would miss her. Evidence of this came when her parents traveled from Maryland for her investment ceremony in Louisville, KY. Sister Evelina recalled the summer morning of their arrival. There were so many sisters home from their teaching assignments that some slept on cots in what was St. Joseph’s Hall (now the Sacred Heart School of Performing Arts building). “Sister Millie Mae (Rueff) said there was a man looking in the windows. It turned out that it was my dad. He wanted to see if I really was happy.”

Challenges were placed before her during the formation process. Shortly after her entrance, while in quiet study with other sisters, Sister Evelina reacted by laughing loudly to something funny another sister had said. “Mother Dominica (Hettinger) came and stopped by my chair. She said, ‘Evelina, either you will not persevere to be a nun or you will become a saint as great as St. Angela.’”

Because of her sincere desire to be a sister, the choice was clear to Sister Evelina. “To me, it meant, ‘I’m going to be as great a saint as Angela. When things get tough, I can do it. Be a saint.’ And I’m still striving.”

During her formation and teaching years, she acquired degrees and certificates from Ursuline College (Louisville, KY), Catholic University (Washington, DC), West Virginia and Pennsylvania departments of Education, Commonwealth of Kentucky and Spalding University (Louisville, KY).

She admits that she entered religious life not because she wanted to teach but primarily because she wanted to be an Ursuline. “One thing for sure is that I learned I loved children. I just loved them.”

She taught in elementary schools for 22 years and served as principal for 19 years at schools in Pittsburgh, PA; Morgantown, WV and Louisville, KY. Challenges came, including assignments in impoverished areas. “I worked with very poor families and I just tried to help as much as I could.”

Often she assisted in small but significant ways: buying boxes of cereal for a little girl who would otherwise come to school hungry, providing a comb and soap for another child who would arrive early to clean up in the classroom sink (“It made my life that she felt so good.”), and, on special occasions, she would cut up candy bars that the class would share.

“I learned to depend on the Holy Spirit,” she confided. “I had families with a lot of problems, especially with poverty. Every time I met with a parent I prayed that the Holy Spirit would put the right words on my tongue. It was amazing! I would say words and I didn’t know where they were coming from.”

Occasionally, she taught middle school students. “I loved junior high kids. They’re so real and I loved to tease them.” The affection was mutual for the sister whose religious name was “Mary Roger.” Her students knew that “roger” was the code word for “OK.” “One time there was trouble as students left lunch. I said, ‘Look, if there is going to be carrying on like this there will be consequences. When I was finished, one boy smiled, saluted and said, ‘Roger, Roger.’ I have a lot of happy memories.”

During a portion of the time while teaching younger children, she took on a part-time teaching position in the Education Department at Ursuline College, and also taught full-time at Bellarmine-Ursuline College for four semesters. She eventually went back to teaching in Catholic elementary schools.

In 1991, she retired from teaching (“I thought I would get out while I was still on top.”) and for 14 years she worked as assistant to the director of Campus Services on the Ursuline Campus in Louisville.

These days Sister Evelina resides at the Motherhouse. In her free time she likes puzzles and reading novels. “There’s always one going in the community room.”

She volunteers at Sacred Heart Home and the Motherhouse, offering to do little acts of kindness for the sisters there, such as cleaning veils, polishing shoes and decorating their rooms for Christmas.

“Angela, our foundress, has always been a model of holiness for me. She truly loved God and spent her life doing all she could for others.”

She is thankful to God for her vocation with the Ursulines. “The community has been my family. I’m proud of our fourth vow, to teach Christian living, which shows how serious we are about our ministry to educate everyone to live holy and better lives by word and example.”

Like a good student, she has completed her homework by looking up the word “jubilee” in Latin, which means “to raise a shout of joy.” “I ask everyone to shout for joy and celebrate this great gift that God has given me.”

Sister Mildred Mae (Anselm) Rueff

70 Years – 1946
Current Ministry: Ministry of prayer, Sacred Heart Home

Previous Ministries: Teacher at St. Boniface, Our Mother of Sorrows, St. Rita, Holy Trinity (all of Louisville, KY), St. Francis de Sales (Morgantown, WV), St. Mary (Jackson, MS), Sacred Heart Mission (Camden, MS) and Blessed Sacrament (Omaha, NE). Counselor at West End Program, Louisville Independent Schools, John F. Kennedy Public School, Indian Trail and Medora Public School, Churchill Public School, Hite Elementary, Jefferson County Public Schools, Sacred Heart Schools (all of Louisville, KY). Pastoral Associate at St. Patrick and The Forum (both of Louisville. KY).

From School Counseling to Parish Ministry, Sister Mildred Mae Would ‘Do It All Again’

Sister Mildred Mae Rueff has fond memories of her youth growing up not far from the Ursuline Motherhouse. The oldest of four daughters and a son born in Louisville to Ida and Irvin Rueff, she liked to shoot marbles and attended Holy Trinity School and Ursuline Academy where she was taught by Ursuline Sisters. She ran errands for Ursuline Sister Marietta Schwindel, the cook at Holy Trinity at the time. While at the Academy on Chestnut Street, she would stay after school to help teachers. “I’d walk down to the corner by the saloon on Shelby Street and wait for a bus. My mother would always tell me, ‘You be careful.’”

After high school she took office jobs, including one at Reynolds Metals in the West End. World War II was in high gear and often after work she would board a bus transporting girls to USO events at Fort Knox where they would dance with soldiers. “They just threw us around (on the dance floor),” she remarked, smiling at the memory. “You either did that or stayed home. There wasn’t anything else to do. All the boys were in the war.”

Her road to religious life began after she expressed a desire to enter the Navy. “My Daddy wouldn’t let me be a WAVE (a term for women who wanted to serve in the Navy).”

Then the war ended. “Everyone—all the kids and neighbors–got in the back of their trucks and went down to Fourth Street to celebrate.”

The very next day, Sister Mildred entered the convent. “My Daddy said, ‘Let her go; she’ll be back in a week. He got fooled,’” she said with a laugh.

It wasn’t difficult going from dances with soldiers to formation in religious life. “It was what I chose to do. It wasn’t hard, just a change. I was fitting in where I belonged, wherever I could help.”

She progressed through religious formation and studies in early elementary education, entering the classroom in 1948 and making her final vows in 1951. While teaching at various elementary schools in Kentucky, West Virginia, Mississippi and Nebraska, she often juggled class work with cooking for the sisters. “They eat whatever you make.”

She shifted from classroom teaching to counseling when sent for her master’s degree in guidance from Creighton University in Omaha, NE. (Later, she went on to receive her specialist certification in counseling psychology from Spalding College.) She embarked as a counselor in the public school system addressing diverse needs–discipline, underfed children, over-bearing parents, violence at home and busing. She also had cause to venture into “The Projects.” “I’d go back and do it all again,” she admitted.

In the early 1990s she found her way into pastoral ministry at the fledging parish of St. Patrick’s in Louisville’s East End, aiding Father John (“Jack”) Schindler. “There was myself, a bookkeeper and father.”

Meeting first at a community center and then in a warehouse at an industrial center, they built the church and started a school on Beckley Station Road; both continue to thrive today. Sister Millie began the religious education program and, when space was scarce, would take a statue of the Blessed Mother down into the basement for a women’s Bible study. Sister Millie Mae helped to found the Leprechauns, a ministry for senior citizens that continues to offer spiritual and social events, trips and provides emotional support for members. Her ministry expanded to include serving Catholic seniors living at The Forum.
Somewhere along the way, Sister Millie took up art—teaching it and showcasing her art at the Ursuline Art Fair. (In her youth, she was more apt to play football or baseball than paint or draw outside of the classroom.)

Known for his preaching and for helping people find lost items, St. Anthony of Padua has been a special saint for Sister Millie over the years, stemming from her younger years when she would stop at St. Boniface Church after leaving work at Reynolds Metals.

These days the 93-year-old sister stays busy at Sacred Heart Home, attending activities and crafting her way through each holiday. As she reflects on her years as an Ursuline, the 93-year-old sister said with a smile, “I go with the flow. … I don’t know anything else.”

Sister Rosella McCormick

60 Years – 1956
Current Ministry: Facilitate RCIA, retreat opportunities, days of prayer. Teach classes for the Archdiocesan Faith Formation Office

Previous Ministries: Teacher at St. Raphael, Angela Merici High School and St. Patrick High School (North Platte, NE); part-time professor at Bellarmine University, Jefferson Community College and Indiana University Southeast. Adult Education director at St. Jerome, (Fairdale, KY). Congregation’s director of novices. Vocation Director. President of the Ursuline Sisters. Pastoral Associate at Holy Spirit (Jamestown KY), Christ the King (McFarland, WI), St. Gabriel and St. Leonard (both Louisville, KY).

Teaching Christian Living Is a Continued Joy for Sister Rosella

Sister Rosella McCormick is a native Nebraskan whose family consisted of her parents and three brothers. When young, she lived in Central Nebraska and attended a public school since there were no nearby Catholic schools. At age 13, the family moved to North Platte, NE, and she enrolled as a sophomore at St. Patrick’s High School, staffed by the Ursuline Sisters. A scholarship enabled her to attend Ursuline College in Louisville, KY, until her father’s poor health called her home after freshman year. For three years she was employed by Municipal Light and Power Co.

Relative to discernment of her vocation, Sister Rosella feels deeply that “God tries hard to get us where God wants us. It is more God’s doing than ours. Made in God’s image and likeness, we all have that Divine DNA, which is so powerful.”

She says that some factors that played a significant role in her discernment include:

  1. “As a child it seemed to me that the Catholic Faith was extremely important to my mother and she witnessed it faithfully and quietly. She always tried to answer my questions about being a Catholic.”
  2. “I met an Ursuline Sister for the first time when I was 7 years old. One of my older brothers and I stayed with an aunt and uncle for two weeks in preparation for receiving First Eucharist.”
  3. “I had no desire to be a sister when in high school or in my year at college here on our Campus. Even though at that time, I wasn’t tuned into it, I think God’s hook (Divine DNA) was reeling me in as I saw postulants and novices in some of my college classes. I wondered what made them ‘tick’ and why. The college was staffed mostly by our sisters.”
  4. “While working for the City of North Platte those 3 years, I frequently went to daily Mass. It seemed God nudged something in me as I observed the sisters file into the front rows of the church. I think the idea of being a woman where prayer and community living were important was becoming important. Also, thoughts of being a teacher had haunted me in school.”
  5. “One day when I stopped by the church after work and only “God and I” were there, I remember being hit with the realization that I had to test a vocation as an Ursuline. However, it was a heavy challenge: so far away from my family and the concern I had for them. Is this what God really wants?”
  6. “I entered the Ursuline novitiate in 1956.”

Sister Rosella expressed a deep conviction that God called her to be an Ursuline. Ursuline foundress, St. Angela Merici, has been an example of prayer, flexibility, faithfulness and “sureness of God.” The Charism of St. Angela and the Louisville Ursulines is a contemplative love of God and a resulting openness and eagerness to serve the needs of others. Sister Rosella considers all the variety of ministries she has had as expressions of the Ursuline Congregation’s Mission: Teaching Christian Living.

Sister Rosella expressed gratitude for opportunities to earn her BA degree at Ursuline College; an MA degree at St. John’s University in New York; and to pursue graduate studies at Notre Dame University, South Bend, IN; and at Washington Theological Union in Washington, DC.

She is thankful for the wonderful opportunities to learn, to pray, and to minister as an Ursuline. She also appreciates sisters who challenged her and persons in the Ursuline Community and parishes who trusted and affirmed the gifts God gave her. Sister Rosella feels that life with her birth family and with her Ursuline family are truly blessings!

Sister Rose Ann (Mary Luke) Muller

60 Years – 1956
Current Ministry: Prayer and presence at Sacred Heart Home

Previous Ministries: Teacher at St. Raphael, Ursuline College, St. Elizabeth, St. Joseph (all of Louisville), Blessed Sacrament (Omaha, NE), St. Mary (Jackson, MS). Principal at Pope John XIII (Madison, IN). Pastoral minister at St. Mary (Jackson, MS) and St. Simon (Washington, IN). Co-coordinator at Marian Home.

A Tested Vocation Blooms into Many Fruitful Years of Ministry for Sister Rose Ann

Sister Rose Ann Muller was born in Evansville, IN, at her parents’ home on June 16, 1932. She is the daughter of Louis and Elenora (Vaal) Muller. Her childhood was happy and many memories still remain. She had a two-year-old brother, Bill, and later Eddie and Eugene came along. The family often visited her grandparents’ farm. “Grandma always had homemade bread and butter and a cup of hot milk with come coffee in it for us. It was sooo good,” Sister Rose Ann recollected. And while grandfather let her and her brothers play in the hayloft, ride on the tractor and feed the animals, she was always glad to return to their 4-room home in the evening. “She slept in the room where the main potbelly stove was situated, a popular spot before breakfast on cold mornings. “Every morning Daddy would get up earlier than any of us, shake down the ashes from the stove and then build a fire with coal.”

They had a swing in their large back yard, which was “big enough for Daddy’s garden.” She and her siblings would ride bikes in the alley and streets near their home. “In the evenings, we sat out on the porch in our swing and played tag and other games. We knew all our neighbors and they knew us.”

Sister Rose Ann was taught by the Sisters of Providence of St. Mary’s of the Woods and the Benedictine Sisters of Ferdinand, IN, in high school. Upon graduation she worked for three years as a secretary for a lawyer and an oil man. During high school and throughout her time as a secretary, she dated, hung out with friends and spent time at the “SHE-HE-HE-SHE Teen Club.” She also was a member of the junior and senior Legion of Mary. “It was mainly through my work in the Legion of Mary that I began to think about becoming a sister,” she said. “My experiences with different types of spiritual works made me think of religious life.”

She also received encouragement from her parish’s assistant priest, Fr. Dewig, who had a great devotion to the Blessed Mother. “When I finally got serious about religious life I leaned toward the Benedictines because I got closer to them in high school.”

There were Ursulines teaching at Evansville’s St. Boniface School, 10 blocks from her home parish. Fr. Dewig wished for Sister Rose Ann to meet his biological sister, who was an Ursuline assigned to Louisville, KY, so the two traveled to St. Peter’s Convent. “I was impressed with Sister Cordula (Dewig) and the Ursuline Sisters but I chose the Benedictines because I knew many of them.”

She was a novice in the Benedictine Order for one year, but her health was not strong enough to allow her to stay so the Superiors asked her to leave. “This was very traumatic for me because I thought that I had failed God in some way.”

She received support from her family, Fr. Dewig and Father Lautner, superintendent of Mater Dei High School, her alma mater. After several months she took a secretarial position with St. Mary’s Hospital, which was down the block from St. Anthony’s Church. “I made many visits to the Blessed Sacrament on my lunch hour. Jesus and I had many a talk together. I felt like Jesus was telling me to try again.”

Healthwise, she felt stronger and on one November day she visited the Ursuline convent at St. Boniface and asked the Superior if the Ursulines would accept her even though she had been in a different convent. A few phone calls later, the answer came back: “Yes.”

She had only four weeks to prepare for her departure. Her parents and brothers drove her to Louisville and she entered the Louisville Community, becoming a novice in July of 1956. She took her temporary vows in 1958. Her first “obedience” (or assignment) was as a first grade teacher at St. Raphael in Louisville, KY. “Those first graders taught me how people learn,” she recalled. “These children, 55 in my class, did not have kindergarten or pre-school experience so everything I taught them they were so excited and happy to learn.”

She received support and advice after school hours from her religious sisters. “Many recreations at the convent found teachers cutting out letters and numbers for our bulletin boards and flashcards to help with teaching. We sisters have always learned a lot from each other.”

Life in the convent was full with daily mass, communal and personal prayer, meals together and weekends finishing coursework and teaching catechism. “We were always busy but together we sisters helped each other to keep our spirits up and to have fun on a minute’s notice.”

After her final vows in 1963, Sister Rose Ann went to Omaha, NE, to teach and pursue a master’s degree in education from Creighton University. She taught at Blessed Sacrament School until her graduation from Creighton in 1967. “Being at Creighton was very enlightening to me, meeting so many students like myself and sharing our stories. I had some fine teachers there and I really liked to study and learn new ideas.”

Ursuline College in Louisville was her next stop. “I found the college students were just as eager to learn and as challenging as my elementary students.” Over time, though, she realized that she preferred elementary education and was assigned to be principal at Pope John XXIII School in Madison, IN. Her ministry was “a little more involved” as she oversaw the academic program and sacramental preparation for all students. Sister Rose Ann noted a memorable day, April 4, 1974, when a tornado struck the school, tearing off the roof over six classrooms and the hall. Fortunately, no one in the school was hurt. “Our teachers, children, staff and parents were involved and very supportive. We were back in school by September of that year.”

From there, Sister Rose Ann taught at St. Elizabeth and St. Joseph schools in Louisville. It was at St. Joseph School where she began her friendship with St. Joseph, the foster father of Jesus and spouse of Mary. “It started with St. Joseph always finding me a place to park my car in front of the convent on bingo nights. Now, St. Joseph is my constant companion.”

After major surgery in 1984, Sister Rose Ann requested a sabbatical, which she used to participate in a program called “The Global Community.” She lived in a dormitory at Mt. St. Joseph College near Cincinnati, OH, with 35 other women religious from across the United States, Canada, Ireland and Africa. They took courses and participated in social justice activities in Washington, DC, and in Texas. “It was truly a special time for me. I am really grateful for that experience.”

Sister Rose Ann was hoping to return to a parish position as a pastoral minister but at that time parishes could not afford to pay for those positions and the congregation could not afford to let her do volunteer work. She accepted a position at St. Mary’s School in Jackson, MS. The pastor of St. Mary’s Church told her that in a few years he hoped to have a paid position for a pastoral minister. In the meantime, Sister Rose Ann taught sixth grade, and three years later earned her same salary but now as a pastoral minister. “The pastor took me to the hospitals and every nursing home and every homebound person in the parish. He told me that all I needed to do was to love them and help them in their need. I did just that.”

She also assisted with the RCIA program at St. Mary and Christ the King parishes. “I truly enjoyed the people of Jackson, MS,” said Sister Rose Ann, who added that they were of all races living there and attending classes at Jackson State University.

She left Jackson in 1995 to be pastoral minister at St. Simon Church in Washington, IN, allowing her to make the hour-long trip to Evansville to be closer to her 90-year-old father. “I was grateful for the opportunity to help in his caregiving,” she said. “He was a kind, gentle and loving person.”

After her father died in 1999, she returned to the Ursuline Campus as co-coordinator of Marian Home and worked with the sick and elderly, meeting their physical and spiritual needs. She retired in 2004 and began volunteering in the surrounding community. Because of her failing health, in September 2015, she moved to Sacred Heart Home. “It is a new era in my life and it takes some time to adjust to it. I feel more at home as the months pass by.”

Her connection to St. Angela Merici has grown since the late 60‘s, a time when sisters received permission to change back to their baptismal names and the congregation began studying St. Angela’s life in-depth. She shared a favorite saying of the saint: “I will be with you more in heaven than while I was on earth.” Sister Rose Ann confided that she would often challenge St. Angela in prayer when situations presented themselves by telling her, “’You promised.’ And she always had an answer for me.”

During her studies, Sister Rose Ann also learned the word “piazza” when one of the sisters autographed her book with the message: “Be like a piazza.” She has pondered and meditated on that word many times. “I think Jesus would like for our whole world to have many piazzas. Perhaps peace and justice would come from them.”

Sister Rose Ann was fortunate to go on an Angeline pilgrimage in 2000, visiting St. Angela’s birthplace and many piazzas. She also traveled to Straubing, Germany, and to the convent where the three founding Ursuline Sisters came from in 1858 to start the Louisville congregation. “It was something to see the area where they lived and worked and to pray in the chapel where Sisters Salesia (Reitmeier), Pia (Schoennhofer) and Maximillian (Nicklas) had prayed.”

Jubilee celebrations are special to Sister Rose Ann. She celebrated her 25th Jubilee in 1981 at St. Joseph Church and her family organized a second celebration in her hometown of Evansville. “Those were two days I will never forget as there was much joy and reminiscing among my family and sisters and friends.”

In 2006, she celebrated her 50th jubilee at Our Mother of Sorrows Church in Louisville, a gathering that was also full of joy. Now it’s her 60th jubilee. “As I am older now, I need to celebrate and remember the many blessings of these 83 years of my life. I thank God that, in my declining age and health, I have a home where my Ursuline Sisters provide care for me, as well as Sacred Heart Home where many loving caregivers take care of my needs.”

Sister Mary Martha (Joseph Marie) Staarman

60 Years – 1956
Current Ministry: Hispanic Parish Services, St. Agnes Parish (West Chester, PA)

Previous Ministries: Teacher at St. George (Louisville, KY), St. Joseph (Columbia, SC), St. Angela Merici (Callao, Peru), St. Mary (Cumberland, MD). Pastoral Minister at St. Peter (Reading, PA), Sacred Heart and St. Joseph (Rock Island, IL).

Unexpected Assignment Led Sister Martha to ‘Vocation within a Vocation’

Sister Martha Staarman has garnered the title of “abuela” (“grandmother”) for guiding immigrant mothers through pregnancies and births of over 500 children. Her car is a taxi, she said, transporting women and children to doctor appointments.

She traces the seeds of this ministry to Ascension Thursday in 1964 when her name was drawn from a hat, earning for her a spot as one of four missionary sisters for ministry in Peru.

Many years prior to shuttling others in her car, Sister Martha was often riding her bike in her hometown of Cumberland, MD. Her father worked for the railroad and her mother managed the home front and three children. Both parents were “very religious,” recalled Sister Martha, adding that her mother sang in the choir and they all wore miraculous medals and went to confession every other week. “My father would take me to all of the novenas.” He would also take the children swimming or for walks in the woods to give her mother a day of peace.

She attended Catholic schools along with her siblings, and participated in piano recitals and theatrical plays. “I’m not an outgoing person. It was never easy for me to get up in front of people but it was a beginning. It helped later in life.” She also wrote for the LaSalle newspaper and won the top spot for her essay, “I Speak for Democracy.”

Ursuline Sisters served as her teachers throughout her school years. The family became well acquainted with Sister Rosalie Weckman, and would drive her places. During those years, Sister Martha aspired to become an airline stewardess. That changed her junior year in high school after a priest spoke to her class about vocations. He left a big poster about becoming a professed religious. “I remember looking at that poster and thinking, ‘Maybe it’s not a bad idea. I’ll try that.’”

After telling her family of her calling and graduating from high school, Sister Martha was on a train to Louisville, KY. It was a difficult transition but she progressed in her formation, which included one year as a postulant, two years as a novice, and two more years of formation before taking her final vows in 1963. During the latter part of her formation, she taught at St. Joseph School in Columbia, SC. The following year she completed her college degree. Then, she was chosen for ministry in Peru to answer Pope John XXIII’s appeal to religious communities to send missionaries to Latin America.

“Going to Peru was pivotal to my whole life,” she surmised, explaining that she had volunteered on a whim. She was shocked when her name was drawn and even tried to back out of the assignment. “It was going against everything in me.” Now, she sees Peru as the place where “I found my vocation within my vocation.”

They had a place to stay in Peru and then set upon the task of establishing a school. “It was up to us to get a school started knowing no Spanish.”

The people welcomed the sisters but the early days were difficult. God willed a school and soon one emerged. (Read about the 50th anniversary of the school established by the Ursulines in this issue.) Once Sister Martha’s Spanish improved she felt comfortable attending meetings and moving freely in the barrio (neighborhood). The Peru assignment changed her life. “I think I found my vocation among the people there,” she later realized. “It made me see religious life in a different context.”

Initially, she taught younger grades in Callao and then pursued community work, relying on skills she learned at the Latin-American Pastoral Institute in Quito, Ecuador. She also studied Liberation Theology in Lima, Peru, and took her knowledge into the community. “I got people together to discuss the Bible and then action would come out of what we studied,” she explained, adding that the need for water and the establishment of basic infrastructure were two key issues facing the local people.

She returned to the United States in 1978 and employed her skills in pastoral ministry at parishes in Reading, PA, Rock Island, IL, Cumberland, MD, and she finally settled at St. Agnes Parish in West Chester, PA, beginning in 1985. “It’s a big parish with a lot going on.”

Her current ministry feels similar to her work in Peru: an outreach to the Spanish-speaking community that includes many from Mexico. Imagine being young with no place of one’s own, often without family, and with no easy route home, Sister Martha reflected. The immigrants come to the United States because they want their children to be safe and educated, she explained.

For 30 years, she works within the parish to meet spiritual and other needs. She guides expectant immigrant parents until their children’s second birthdays, ensuring pregnant mothers receive good healthcare, have transportation to doctor appointments and that children receive the shots they need.

She emphasizes the importance of education to the immigrants. “I tell them, ‘Do you want to clean houses all of your lives? Then you have to study.’” It’s a process that takes patience, she said, recalling her acclimation to Peru and her own family history. “My grandparents were German immigrants and they couldn’t speak English.”

The wisdom of St. Angela Merici infuses her ministry. Favorite pearls of Angeline wisdom include: “We have a greater need to serve the poor than they have of our service” and “You will find no other recourse than to take refuge at the feet of Jesus.”

Sister Martha’s own experiences in Peru allow her to meet immigrants, given their many hardships, with compassion and to join them at Jesus’ feet. “I look upon opportunities so that when something comes along I’m more open to what happens. Whatever it is, it may not be OK but it will turn out as it should. Maybe not in my eyes, but it will turn out OK—sometimes that’s hard to swallow.”

Being an Ursuline has changed the course of her life. “I would not have had the opportunities and experiences if not for being part of the Ursulines.”

Even though she lives away from the Motherhouse, she feels connected to the congregation in Louisville. “There are people there that are part of my life even though I am up here. It’s home.”

Sister Loretta Krajewski

40 Years – 1976
Current Ministry: Principal/Teacher at St. Luke School, Ogallala, NE

Previous Ministries: Teacher at St. Elizabeth, St. Joseph, St. Jerome, St. Therese, St. John Vianney and St. Simon and Jude (all of Louisville) and St. Patrick (North Platte, NE).

Nebraska Native Serves as Principal and Teacher in Her Home State

Sister Loretta Krajewski is the fifth of six daughters that her parents were blessed with in eight years. She was raised on a farm 10 miles southwest of Ogallala, NE. “Growing up on the farm meant that you did everything that you were needed to do – drive a tractor or the truck, move irrigation pipe, help with wheat harvest, mow, feed cattle, horses, pigs, and chickens, and there were always ‘big weeds’ to be pulled in a field in the middle of nowhere.”

Kindergarten through 4th grade, she frequently walked one and a half miles to a one-room country school she attended. Her last year at the country school, there were two other students – a neighbor girl and her youngest sister. The following year the youngest sisters joined two older sisters at Saint Luke’s School in Ogallala, where they were taught by the Dominicans from St. Catherine, KY. After graduating from the eighth grade, Sister Loretta joined older sisters who were attending Saint Patrick’s High School in Sidney, NE. Since Sidney was more than 60 miles away, she lived with a different family each of her high school years. “We would go home on weekends to help out on the farm when there was not a volleyball game to play in or a basketball or football game to attend.”

At St. Patrick, she was introduced to the Ursuline Sisters of Louisville. They became her mentors. “They were very kind, helpful and caring. I wanted to be that kind of person.”

She went on to Kearney State College in Kearney, NE, and was active in the Newman Center. Sister Loretta recalled a presentation on religious life offered through the center. “I just remember being deeply touched by what the sister was challenging us young people to think about – a life of service in the Church.”

Presented with an imposing book of numerous religious communities, Sister Loretta received advice from her campus minister to consider congregations she already knew. She had had contact with the Ursulines and Dominicans, and so she wrote to both communities.

In the meantime, Sister Loretta graduated with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a minor in physical science. On a visit to her family in North Platte, NE, Sister Rosella McCormick, the Ursulines’ vocations director, paid the college senior a visit in Ogallala. After that, Sister Loretta, along with her father and youngest sister, accompanied her to Louisville and St. Catherine. It was in Louisville where Sister Loretta felt “like this could be my ‘home.’”

She moved to Louisville in August of 1975 to begin her postulancy with Sister Martha (Olga) Buser as her formation director and 11 other sisters as roommates on the third floor of Marian Hall. Having a degree in education, she was ready for the classroom, teaching first at St. Elizabeth and then at St. Joseph, St. Jerome, St. Therese, St. John Vianney and St. Simon and Jude, all in Louisville. She also taught at St. Patrick High School in North Platte and finally, in 2005, returned to Ogallala, NE, as principal and teacher at St. Luke, where she still ministers in her 11th year and 40th year in education. Principals of schools where she has worked have been instrumental to her own career. They include Sisters Alberta Neppl, Romana Selter and Evelina (Roger) Pisaneschi, Mrs. Hurst and Michelle Duvall. “Each of them helped me become a better teacher, work together as a team, improve communication skills and establish good relationships with parents.”

Guiding her, too, has been Ursuline foundress, Saint Angela Merici. One favorite saying of the saint is “when necessary, change with the times.”

“Saint Angela challenged us to persevere,” she said, adding that she identifies with the saint in her work with women, children and families. “When there are bumps along the way, I know I am being called to persevere.”

Another go-to source of strength is the Blessed Mother. “In my work with families, I turn to her in prayer often to give me strength, wisdom and guidance.”

Psalm 63 and Matthew 9:21 are Scripture passages that inspire her. “If I could just touch the hem of his (Jesus’) cloak, I will be healed.”

She thinks of this quote when ministering to children, hoping they come to know and love Jesus. “Every day I want to touch the hem of his cloak, staying very close to Jesus and God. With God, all things are possible.”

She feels privileged to be part of the Ursulines, a group of “wise and prayerful women making a difference in our world.” She aspires to continue the Ursuline legacy.

“They have supported me, challenged me, and helped me grow spiritually, emotionally and mentally. They are my family.”

Sister Yuli Oncihuay

Love for Ursulines Fuels Sister Yuli’s Vocation and Work in the Classroom

Sister Yuli Oncihuay arrived in Louisville in March from the Ursuline mission in Callao, Peru. For about a year, she will be living at the Motherhouse while learning English and visiting with her sisters and their places of ministry. Her visit sparked an idea – celebrate her 20 years as an Ursuline Sister of Louisville. [Traditionally the Ursuline Sisters of Louisville have celebrated jubilees of 25, 50, 60, 75 and 80.]

Sister Yuli entered the Ursuline Sisters of Louisville in 1996. “I was attracted to the Ursulines by the way they lived in community, their hospitality, their service and dedication to others, and also their work for justice and peace,” she recalled. [The Ursulines had arrived in Peru in 1964.

After formation into the Ursulines with Sister Sue Scharfenberger and the other Sisters in Callao at that time, Sister Yuli made final profession there in 2005. She came to Louisville in early spring from her ministry as a kindergarten teacher at Colegio Parroquial Santa Angela Merici, the school founded by the Sisters in 1965.

“It gives me joy to be a part of this great community, the diversity of the Sisters and their going to Peru, leaving their footprints as ‘Angela Peregrina.’ Also the life of the children, women and youth who seek ways of knowing themselves and realizing their potential as people gives me joy.”

Sister Yuli sees her visit as a chance to deepen her relationships in the congregation and a chance to reflect- an opportunity for peace and quiet, not often found while involved in her teaching ministry.

Bienvenida y felicidades, Sister Yuli!