Five religious sisters now teach at St. Patrick School

Sisters Briana Craddock, Becky Mathauer, Doris Schepers, Sarah Yungwirth and Jill Marie Reuber (left to right) stood in the entrance to St. Patrick School Aug. 14. The five Sisters of St. Benedict serve on the faculty of St. Patrick School, located in Eastwood. (Record Photo by Jessica Able)

Sisters Briana Craddock, Becky Mathauer, Doris Schepers, Sarah Yungwirth and Jill Marie Reuber (left to right) stood in the entrance to St. Patrick School Aug. 14. The five Sisters of St. Benedict serve on the faculty of St. Patrick School, located in Eastwood. (Record Photo by Jessica Able)

By Jessica Able, Record Staff Writer

There was a time when every Catholic elementary school in the Archdiocese of Louisville had a faculty teeming with women religious. It was rarer
to have a lay person on staff.

Now decades later the number of women religious has declined and schools are almost entirely staffed by lay persons. That’s why it’s remarkable there are five Sisters of St. Benedict on staff at St. Patrick School.

There are no doubt other schools in the Archdiocese of Louisville that have women and men religious in the classroom and in administrative roles but none as plentiful as St. Patrick, according to the superintendant’s office.

The five sisters — Sisters Jill Marie Reuber, Doris Schepers, Sarah Yungwirth, Becky Mat-hauer and Briana Craddock — say their love for children is what brought them to St. Patrick.

A couple of years ago the school, located in Eastwood, hired Sister Reuber after she was recommended by a member of her community, said Dr.
Michael Bratcher, principal of St. Patrick School.

“At the time we had a position open in first grade. We invited her to apply. She went through the same resume and interview process” as other applicants, Bratcher noted in an interview at the school last week.

A year later the school hired Sister Schepers to teach seventh- and eighth-grade religion, and Sister Yungwirth to teach second grade. Now Sister Yungwirth serves as the school’s learning support coordinator.

From there word of mouth spread and two additional Sisters of St. Benedict applied and were hired for the current school year — Sisters Mathauer and Craddock.

Bratcher said that hiring the sisters was not part of a larger strategic plan to include more religious on the faculty roster but noted that their presence certainly adds to the Catholic culture of the school.

“The greater St. Patrick community is very appreciative (to the sisters). They know it’s part of our mission, our Catholic identity. Our focus is on keeping the school Catholic. That’s important to us,” Bratcher said.

Several of the sisters were taught by women religious themselves and consider that experience to have been significant on the formation of their early years.

“My first grade teacher and high school principal were sisters. I really loved them a lot,” Sister Yungwirth recalled.

When Sister Schepers first thought about joining a religious community, the first person she called was a sister who had been her high school teacher.

Sister Reuber said she hopes to make a positive impact on her students and for them to remember her in a fond way.

“One thing I hope by being a teacher in a Catholic school and being involved in the Catholic community of Louisville is to … be that witness some of us had growing up,” she said.

Father Martin Linebach, pastor of St. Patrick Church, said it has been a dream of his to have religious in Catholic schools again.

“I think for children and for adults who do not have a lot of experience with religious women, it’s a powerful witness. They devote, in a palpable way, their whole life to Christ.

“What is great is that they bring such a feeling of faith. And, secondly, there is just a great sense of joy,” Father Linebach said.

Father Linebach noted that the sisters were hired not simply because they were nuns but because “they were a great fit and brought academic expertise in their areas.”

He also noted that the sisters’ presence also brings awareness to a call to the religious life or priesthood.

“Each spring the seventh- and eighth-grade students go on a field trip to the monastery (in Ferdinand, Ind.). It helps them connect the dots.”

Leisa Schulz, superintendent of archdiocesan schools, said having the sisters at St. Patrick adds another dimension for students.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to have women religious or priests or religious men, teaching. It exposes students to a breadth of vocations that are out there,” she said. “Many of our students — just because of the demographics of this time — don’t necessary have an opportunity to have the experience with religious men and women in a teaching environment.”

3 Comments

  • The Sisters of St. Benedict in Ferdinand, Indiana are happy to have our sisters serve at St. Patrick. Know that an added benefit of our sisters serving there is you are in our daily prayers. God bless you all. Sr. Barbara Lynn Schmitz, Prioress
    Sisters of St. Benedict, Ferdinand, IN

    Come visit if you are in the area. We would love to share our church and grounds with you.

  • I had the pleasure of working with Sr. Briana in Evansville. She is a fantastic teacher and colleague. Best wishes for a good school year to everyone at St. Patricks.

  • John L Craddock says:

    As he father of S Briana I can attest to the dedication and love she brings to the work she does whether in her teaching, counseling or service to her community and everyone she interacts with. I am proud of her commitment and service, and she is a light in my life and I suspect all she touches,,,But, then again, I may be biased, I am her dad after all. I hear good things about the quality of your school. I am glad that she was selected to be part of it. My love and prayers reach out to all of you.

    Dr. John Craddock, Professor of Management

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