Written on: April 19, 2015
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!