Sister Mary Ellen’s mother died in her infancy and her dad remarried when she was five. She describes her family by saying, “I have very fond memories of my grandfather who resided with us and gave me my love of books and stories! Currently I have six older siblings, now 86-78, fragile but all still alive! We have had wonderful reunions, several here at Nazareth, the last hosted by the SVD at Techny for my Golden Jubilee.”
Sister Mary Ellen made vows as a Sister of Charity of Nazareth on March 15, 1952. Her history of ministries includes teaching nine years in elementary grades followed by long term ministry as Professor of English at colleges across the country. Of special interest is that while at Huston-Tillotson College, Austin, TX (one of the historically black colleges), she developed a specialty course in African-American Literature. S. Mary Ellen also served with Sister Susan Gatz, SCN as Associate Regional in the Southern Region.
Her current variety of ministries which includes teaching one course a year at Spalding University, spiritual direction and retreat work, and giving talks on Mother Catherine or on African-American literature gives scope for all she holds dear and important. Mostly S. Mary Ellen is involved in research and writing. She shares, “I especially cherish the research and writing on our community history and members because they have given me insights on the spirituality and experiences of our most wonderful women and the chance to pass all that on for our present and future members.” Currently her biography of Mother Catherine is being considered by a press for possible publication.
S. Mary Ellen reflects, “If I must pick a favorite ministry, I guess it would be teaching English at Divine Word College in Iowa. It was both refreshing and challenging to work with wonderful colleagues and to teach students from several continents and various cultures. We celebrated all their festivals in their languages and they gifted us with their almost unbelievable stories!”
S. Mary Ellen was part of the Selma-Montgomery March for Civil Rights. That experience led to volunteer work in Louisville organizations for social justice and a general involvement in the effort for interracial justice and understanding. She has volunteered as a reader at Recording for the Blind. Her cultural interests came from home and from education at Nazareth and include the following: literature, art, music, drama, and travel. She concludes, “The community has provided my best travel opportunities: Not only to India and Nepal, with stops in Rome and the Holy Land but also short-term ministry in Belize and El Salvador! Talk about being gifted!”