On Friday, November 15, 2019, Sister Carol Curtis made her final profession of vows to become an Ursuline Sister of Louisville during Mass in the Ursuline Motherhouse Chapel. Sister Carol had previously been a nun with the Discalced Carmelites in Louisville. She lived a cloistered life for 25 years, along with her fellow nuns behind the walls of their monastery—a life devoted to simplicity and prayer. Sister Carol, formerly Mother John Baptist of the Lamb of God, was serving as prioress of the Carmelites when they made the decision in 2015 to move out of their monastery on Newburg Road and sell the building to the Archdiocese of Louisville.

Ursuline President Sister Janet Marie Peterworth shared during her reflection at Mass, “I received a call out of the blue one day in 2015 from Mother John the Baptist, who explained that, ‘The Carmelites were moving out of their building, and would we happen to have any room for a few of them to move in?’” She thought to herself, this could be us. So, of course, she said yes, knowing they had plenty of room, and soon the Carmelites came.

Sister Janet shared that, “Mother John was a bit of a night owl, and I would find her in the library reading with one lone light on—reading, studying or praying. I would stop in and this would  lead to many long conversations about many things. Then one night she said, ‘I wonder if I might read some of the books in that case on the wall there…the books about Saint Angela.’ ‘Of course,’ I said, ‘By all means. Help yourself.’ Then, there were many conversations that followed about Saint Angela and the Ursulines and apostolic life.

In the spring of 2016, we received a letter from Mother John Baptist, requesting a formal vow transfer process from the Carmelite way of life to the Ursuline way of life. On November 1 2016, a three year period of discernment began. Toward the end of 2016, a letter came from Mother John Baptist requesting to begin the formal vow transfer process from the Carmelite way of life to the Ursuline way of life. So, on Nov. 1, 2016, Sister Carol Curtis began her three year period of transfer.

Closing a monastery was not easy. It involved providing for a community, as well as taking care of individual needs. It required legal negotiations—both civil and canonical. It involved closing a facility of 60+ years and ridding it of historical and not-so-historical things, and attending to grieving that had to come as part of that decision. All of these things took physical and psychological energies. Sister Carol’s three years of transition had many layers. Sister Rita Dressman and the mentors who followed Sr. Carol’s journey know of some of these layers.

But now, here we are tonight to witness and celebrate Sr. Carol’s decision to embrace the Charism of the Louisville Ursulines. The contemplative part of the charism is not new to her. What is new is the fourth vow which is the call to an active ministry of service. In transferring her vows, she transfers three, but adds a fourth vow of service to others. This one is new. This one presents its own challenges for Sr. Carol. This one is a call to service in a new and different way. With Sr. Carol’s permission I am sharing with you a passage from her letter asking to pronounce her vows as an Ursuline. I quote, ‘Ironically the Fourth Vow, which at first was a stumbling block to my recognizing a call to the Ursulines, has come to represent the new, apostolic dimension of my vocation. This awareness has confirmed my discernment and given me greater confidence and eagerness in welcoming this consecration for mission.’”

Congratulations to our newest Ursuline Sister of Louisville, Sister Carol Curtis, OSU!