Sister Shirley Ann (Mary Joanella) 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 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 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) 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 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
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 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 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 Onchihuay
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 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.”
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.”
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 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.
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. ”
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 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 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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
Sister Lelia Lee Kirchner, OSU
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 Jean Anne Zappa, OSU
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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 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 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.”
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.”
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.”
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 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.
Sister Katherine Corbett
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.’”
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.