Blessed with the Joy of God’s Love
By Evelyn Fugazzi, SCN
“I want the two of you to come in here right this minute!” Mother Ballard was on the war path because Marie Anne and her younger brother had once again been into mischief! The “Ballard General Store”, located near the railroad tracks, was a well respected business in the city of Bardstown, Kentucky and this proprietor would not allow any shenanigans such as her children removing prizes from cracker-jack boxes! Marie Anne was the second from the youngest of six children and she found “store life” very exciting such as when the Philip Morris salesman, dressed in his colorful uniform, would present her Mother with a gift and herself with an exact smaller replica of this gift. This little girl liked to watch as eggs were “candled”, a process where eggs, before being sold, would be placed under a light to assure that they were fresh!
Later on the family sold their store and moved to the country where her father became a full time farmer. Marie Anne, along with her siblings attended Bethlehem Grade and High Schools. During her freshman year, she had thoughts of becoming a Religious when Sisters from different orders visited the school for vocation promotion. Marie Anne was continually inspired by two special Sisters, Mary Immaculata Kuehner, SCN, always happy and smiling and considerate of each child and Sister Margaret Rose Griesbaum’s own note of excellence and beauty as she taught piano lessons! This seed continued to germinate in the midst of a fun-filled life, dating and other happy social occasions!
Marie Anne joined the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth on September 24, 1947. Following her profession she served as teacher and principal for 42 years! As principal, Sister was greatly affirmed when a former teacher let her know that it was through Sister’s expert training that this young woman was hired for a prestigious position in a Public School Title Program!
When Marie Anne retired from education ministry, she became a Family/Patient Advocate at Memorial Hospital in Chattanooga where she served as a liaison between patients and families of ICU patients and hospital professional staff. In addition to listening and communicating, she offered compassionate help as she oriented families and visitors of ICU patients to hospital waiting area. She also trained volunteers. Now that she has come to live at Nazareth, Sister continues to live out the core values of reverence, integrity, compassion, and excellence as she engages in a variety of ministries!
That Ballard family members love for travel can be attributed to their parents. Marie Anne, along with siblings, has had many opportunities for travel including attending the Oberammergau Passion Play. She has only to close her eyes to recall her visit to Lourdes and experience once again the sense of serenity and peace that enveloped her there! Over the years, she and her siblings have visited all but three of the U. S. States. She shares, “The greatest treasure of these experiences is the close bond between my family members and me that has been continually nurtured during these special times! I am blessed with the joy of God’s love!”