Sister Mary Karen Kelly- 60th Jubilee

Written on: April 19, 2015

Sister Mary Karen Kelly

Sister Mary Karen Kelly

Sister Mary Karen Kelly is a native of Philadelphia and met the Grey Nuns at Little Flower High School.  She has traveled far and wide in her ministry of education both at the elementary and the college level.  Her studies in Spanish and later in Bilingual/Bicultural Education equipped her for her years as a teacher at St. Edward’s Parish in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and at St. Norbert’s Parish in Lima, Peru, where she served for seven years.  She was Principal at both St. Jude the Apostle School in Atlanta, Georgia, and at Grey Nun Academy in Yardley.  Mary Karen has been a member of the Grey Nun Leadership Council and following her term, she volunteered in Honduras, Central America, at the time of Hurricane Mitch which devastated that poor country. Her years at the collegiate level of education included time at St. Joseph’s University and LaSalle University, both in Philadelphia, and as Director of Operation TEACH at the College of Notre Dame in Baltimore, Maryland.  She presently serves as Archivist of the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart.

Imagine my delight last year when I received a letter from a former Holy Angels Kindergarten student, who still had the holy card I had given to her at the end of the  school year.  I had written, “Pray for me.” above my signature. Joanne assured me that she had done so ever since. Joanne, and indeed several former students whom I follow on Facebook make me glad that the Grey Nuns missioned me as a teacher when I had once dreamed of becoming a nurse. God’s providence is wonderful indeed.

Though I grew to love all my ministries, my favorite is still my first mission, Holy Angels Grade School in Buffalo, NY, where the Grey Nuns had ministered for more than 100 years.  The Grey Nun faculty and staff members all generously helped the newest primary teacher get off to a good start. Mostly I remember the children and their families: sweet, cooperative, endearing.  In the years that followed I carried them and all the classes that followed in my heart’s memory.

Of all the items on my Grey Nun Gratitude List, I treasure most the opportunity to grow spiritually. The weeks I spent making a thirty-day Directed Retreat rank as the most important of my spiritual life; I credit them with helping me remain on course during a very unsettled time in the Church, in religious life and in my personal life.

These sixty years are amazing manifestations of God’s Providential love. I remember early celebrations of Jubilees. There they were, those older sisters, still “semi-zipping” around, radiating wisdom and joy.  I understood then that jubilees are celebrations of God’s invitation and our on-going response.   Now as I look back on twenty five and fifty year jubilees, I marvel even more at God’s Providence as I join the ranks of those who, thanks to God’s grace, “semi-zip” around.  Praise God!

10 thoughts on “Sister Mary Karen Kelly- 60th Jubilee

  1. Iva says:

    Dearest Sister Mary Karen,
    I remember my 1st grade at St. Edwards. Being so scared and nervous. And I remember you telling me I was going to be ok. And that I could be whatever I wanted to when I grow up. You were always so kind, I always felt so safe and loved in your class! Thank you for those core memories!


    Dear Sr. Mary Karen,
    How lovely to stumble across your dear name. You taught me in 2nd grade at St Rose of Lima in Buffalo NY in the early 60’s. I had surgery on my right leg and you came to visit me in hospital, gifting me a gold foil covered book called Heaven is a Circus- I remember asking you what color your hair was under your veil.. I wanted you to know I treasure your kindnesses to me; I served as one of the 1st 5 worldwide Peace Corps Volunteers in Ecuador 1976-79. After service, traveled most of South America, including the birthplace of St. Rose in Lima- Gracias para todo, y que Dios le bendiga siempre, con carino, Danute Musteikis-Rankis

  3. Georgienne Bradley says:

    Dear Sister Mary Karen,

    Delighted to see this post and to see how many students’ lives you nurtured and help develop. Sending much love, from what I can remember, one of your your “challenging” alums 🙂
    I was a student in Yardley and I believe you taught me for two years.

  4. Jeffrey Yannello says:

    Hello Sister Mary Karen…you were a wonderful teacher!

  5. Patricia Alvarado Hinojosa says:

    Dear sister,
    I am from Santa Catalina Peru , I, Patty and my brother Abraham met you in the year 1977, we were in the St, Norbert’s Parish chorus , my brother and me were playing guitar and I always remember you when you sing ‘Alleluia” with your precious voice and the father David was playing his guitar and also remember you such as sweet and kind person . Two days ago we knew about sister Patricia passed away , and came to my mind a lot a memories about those wonderful years when we were a teenagers . Just I want to tell you a big Thanks, for give to my country part of your life, your dedication like a teacher and for all the hard work done in Santa catalina. I wish all the best for you , and be sure that el coro de san Norberto , siempre la recordara . hace 20 años vivo en VA , pero cada vez que puedo regreso de visita a Peru.
    Con el mayor de los aprecios,
    Patty Alvarado., ya tengo 55 años.

  6. Rosemarie Rieben says:

    Dear Sister.
    I am not sure if I am writing the right person did you grow up on Weymouth st, and if you did this is Rosemarie from. Next door Dixon/Bush

    1. Mary Karen Kelly says:

      Rosemarie dear, how very lovely to hear from you. I am your former next-door neighbor from Weymouth Street. When you Dad was working the evening shift, I would join your Mother on Friday nights to watch TV. Your grandparents usually went out on Friday nights. At some point during the evening she would send me around to Ostroff’s Drug store to get us both double decker ice cream cones. I had to leave at 10:00 PM. I remember fondly those nights with your Mom; she made me feel so “grown up”. Of course I was happy when your big brother, then you were born. I may even have some photos from your early years.
      Now my dear, tell me about you and your family. I will be so happy to connect after so many years.
      Kathleen [I’m also known as Sister Mary Karen since I became a Nun.]

      1. Leo M Dixon says:

        Helllo Dear Sister Mary Karen (Kathleen Kelly) this is Leo Dixon formally of Weymouth st. Rosemaries big brother. I found your religious name in your brother Bills obituary. I am sorry for your loss. I always liked your entire family of course your brothersJoe and Bill where my idles and your mom was a special person.
        I read your response to my sisters text and i couldnot help but to read it over and over again in which you spoke about our mother. Thank you for sharin. Belated congratulations on your Jubilee.
        Take care,

  7. Sister Mary Karen Kelly says:

    Thank you, John. I remember teaching a Dennis Madigan in First Grade 1958-59. Any relation?

  8. Fr. John Madigan, O.M.I. says:

    Dear Sister,

    I congratulate you for 65 years as a Grey Nun of the Sacred Heart. During the years you ministered at Holy Angel’s in Buffalo, my Home Parish (from 1955-1963) I was delighted to have been taught by various members of your congregation. I’m sure my fellow Oblates from Holy Angels, especially, Fr. Hank Lemoncelli, Fr. Tony Rigoli, Fr. Bill O’Donell, Fr. Dan Crahen, would totally agree with me in this sentiment.

    I shall offer Mass tomorrow (May 5th) in gratitude for your exemplary service,

    John Madigan

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