Religious celebrate jubilee milestones

Sister of Charity of Nazareth Evelyn Hurley received a standing ovation during the World Day of Consecrated Life Mass at St. Gregory Church on Feb. 11. Sister Hurley will be 109 years old in March and is celebrating her 90th year as a religious sister this year. (Record Photo by Kayla Bennett)

SAMUELS, Ky. — At 108 years old, Sister of Charity of Nazareth Evelyn Hurley, one of 33 religious who were honored Feb. 11, is believed to be the second oldest religious sister in the United States. 

On Saturday, she celebrated 90 years of religious life during the annual World Day of Consecrated Life Mass at St. Gregory Church in Samuels, Ky.

“I can only thank God,” said Sister Hurley, a long-time teacher, after the Mass. “I don’t have an ache or a pain. I can’t remember ever having a headache. God has been very, very good blessing me.”

The Boston native, who will turn 109 next month, attributed her longevity to God, her positive attitude and to her community.

Archbishop Shelton J. Fabre discussed the importance of community during his homily at the special Mass. 

Dominican Sisters of St. Cecelia, center, attended the World Day of Consecrated Life Mass at St. Gregory Church on Feb. 11. (Record Photo by Kayla Bennett)

Drawing on the message from the day’s Gospel reading (Mark 1:40-45), he told the congregation that humans were created to be near each other.

“We really do need one another,” he said. “We were created for life in community. … Imagine living life separated from others. It gets really old. Especially with the pandemic — we longed to be with one another.”

The Gospel reading about a leper — cast out from society and made to feel unworthy — can give us hope, the archbishop said. 

Hope can be found in the “boldness of the leper.” 

“He should not have even come into town or approached Jesus Christ,” Archbishop Fabre explained. “But he did not let anything hold him back. He boldly sought out Jesus Christ. He knelt humbly before him and stated a simple request.”

Hope can be found “in the boldness of Jesus Christ,” he added. “Jesus reached out and touched the leper which, technically speaking, would make Jesus unclean. But the reverse happens.”

Because the leper brought himself to Christ, Christ was able to bring cleansing to the leper.

Ursuline Sister of Louisville Marilyn Mueller hugged Ursuline Sister of Louisville Julia Davis during the sign of peace. Both sisters are celebrating 70 year jubilees this year. (Record Photo by Kayla Bennett)

“What we think disqualifies us and makes us unclean is the very thing Jesus desires to touch in us,” the archbishop said. “I desire that you come beyond the very thing that you are ashamed of.”

Jesus wants his people to live their lives for God’s glory, he said, noting that the religious celebrating jubilees do just that in a wonderful way.

“They remind us God has created us for community. … They bring the healing of Christ to others in the ministries they embrace,” he said.

Sister Hurley did that for Kendal Hunter, a family friend who said during an interview that she considers Sister Hurley a “sweet guardian angel.” 

After Hunter’s mother died, Sister Hurley helped her process the grief, she said.

“Her guidance and her willingness to never give up on me” were invaluable, Hunter said. “Through the tough times I went through losing my mother, she was always strong for me, reminding me that God’s always there for us, to pray to the holy Mother, and that you’re never alone. I have someone who’s there for me.”

Sister of Charity of Nazareth Luke Boiarski called Sister Hurley “a grand lady.”

“Not only is she an educator, she’s just a good-hearted person. She can’t leave a dining room without going to everyone (saying), ‘I hope you have a good day, have a good day, I hope you have a good day.’ She is the most pleasant.”

Archbishop Shelton J. Fabre shook hands with Sister of Charity of Nazareth Evelyn Hurley at the end of Mass. Sister Hurley celebrated 90 years as a religious sister. (Record Photo by Kayla Bennett)

Sister Hurley said having a positive outlook has helped her along the way: “You have to take things as they come and be able to accept it and be happy.” 

Sister Hurley taught elementary school for 60 years. She served in Covington, Ky., Massachusetts, Mississippi and the Archdiocese of Louisville at St. Agnes School from 1939 to 1947. 

In 1995, she retired from teaching at age 80 but maintained an active ministry of visiting the sick and attending wakes and funerals. In 2014, at age 99, she retired to the SCN Motherhouse in Nazareth, Ky.

In addition to Sister Hurley, 32 religious — 31 sisters and a brother — celebrating jubilees were honored during the Mass.

All men and women religious in the archdiocese were invited to attend the celebration. Mass included a vow renewal for the religious who attended and a name reading for those celebrating jubilee years. Those names, which were provided to the Archdiocese of Louisville Vocation Office by their communities, are:

90 years

Sister Evelyn Hurley, SCN

80 years

Sister Kathleen Tighe, SL

75 years

Sister Irene Marie Clare, lsp

Sister S. Pascal Fernicola, SCN

Sister Julienne Guy, OSU

Sister Mary Donata Kokot, OSU

SIster Eileen Mary Meyer, SCN

Sister Monica Myers, OP

70 years

Sister Alverda Bonifas, OP

Sister Julia Davis, OSU

Sister Clara Fehringer, OSU

Sister Mary Eula Johnson, SCN

Sister Rosemarie Kirwan, SCN

Sister Patricia McCormick, SL

Sister Susan Mary Mudd, OSUMSJ

Sister Marilyn Mueller, OSU

Sister Margaret Quayhagan, SL

Sister Nancy Rioux, OP

Sister Agnes Ann Schum, SL

Sister Tonya Severin, SCN

Sister Mary Matthias Ward, OSUMSJ

60 years

Sister Mary Timothy Bland, OSUMSJ

Sister Joyce Marie Cecil, OSUMSJ

Sister Luisa DeRouen, OP

Sister Mary Louise Edwards, OP

Brother Kenney Gorman, CFX

Sister Karla Marie Kaelin, OSUMSJ

Sister Jeanne Moore, OP

Sister Laurita Spalding, OSUMSJ

Sister Carole Rossi, OP

Sister Melissa Tipmore, OSUMSJ

50 years

Sister Michael Anthony Mugen, lsp

Sister Grace Mary Nemitz, lsp

Kayla Bennett
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Kayla Bennett
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