Ursuline Sisters celebrate jubilees

Four Ursuline Sisters of Louisville who dedicated their lives to education and other ministries are celebrating jubilees of 60 to 75 years in 2023.

Sister Lelia Kirchner

Sister Lelia “Lee” Kirchner, formerly Sister Mary Placidus, is celebrating 75 years of religious life. She was born in Lyndon, Ky. — one of 13 children — and raised in Louisville. After graduating from high school at Ursuline Academy, she joined the Ursuline Sisters in 1948. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Ursuline College in 1963.

She taught in Maryland and at several schools in Louisville before going to Peru as a missionary for 41 years. She co-founded St. Angela Merici School in Carmen de Legua, Callao, Peru, in 1965. She served at the school until 1988, including 10 years as principal. 

She then worked in pastoral ministry in San Miguel, Peru, until 2005. 

From 2005 to 2022, she served as a volunteer at Centro Latino in Shelbyville, Ky. She currently serves in a ministry of presence and prayer.

Sister Helen O’Brien

Sister Helen O’Brien is celebrating 70 years of religious life. She met the Ursuline Sisters of Louisville when she was a student at Ursuline High School in Columbia, S.C. She joined the Ursulines while finishing her senior year of high school at Sacred Heart Academy in Louisville in 1953. Sister Helen earned her undergraduate degree at Ursuline College and her master’s from Duquesne University.

Sister Helen taught for 20 years at several grade schools in Louisville and at Sacred Heart Academy, where she was dean of students. She served on the Ursuline Sisters’ Leadership Team from 1976 to 1984 and again from 1996 to 2002. 

She served as director of formation for new members from 1984 to 1996. Working in formation led to her current ministry of spiritual direction. She earned certification in spiritual direction from Loyola University Chicago and studied psychosynthesis at the Kentucky Center for Psychosynthesis.

Sister Martha Jacob

Sister Martha (Trinitas) Jacob is celebrating 60 years as an Ursuline Sister. 

She is a native of Louisville and graduated from Sacred Heart Academy in 1953. She earned a bachelor’s in journalism from Saint-Mary-of-the-Woods College in Indiana and became a teacher. Prior to religious life, she taught at St. Raphael School and Loretto High School before teaching in the journalism department of Saint-Mary-of-the-Woods from 1959 to 1960.

She then worked as public relations director for Ursuline College and taught English and journalism there. She entered the Ursuline Sisters in 1962 and served as a teacher to some of the other postulants.

After earning a doctorate in communication from Michigan State University, she served on the faculties of Spalding University, Jefferson Community and Technical College, Indiana University Southeast and Bellarmine College in the 1970s.

In 1981, she became director of communications for the Ursulines. She served on the Ursuline Sisters’ Leadership Team from 2008 to 2014 and was chair of the Ursuline Campus Art Fair for eight years. She currently serves as congregational historian.

Sister Rita Joseph Jarrell

Sister Rita Joseph Jarrell, a native of Louisville, is celebrating 60 years of religious life. 

She joined the Ursuline Sisters in 1962 after graduating from Sacred Heart Academy. She earned a bachelor’s from Ursuline College, a master’s in secondary education from Western Kentucky University and a master’s in theology from Duquesne University. 

She taught at Angela Merici and Bishop David high schools and served as a principal and assistant principal at schools in Pittsburgh.

She returned to Louisville in 1983, where she became vocation coordinator and then assistant principal of Holy Cross High School from 1984 to 1986. 

In 1999, she began a new ministry in pastoral work and received her chaplaincy certification, working with the Brown Cancer Center and Hospice. 

She currently volunteers with Seven Counties Services and breast cancer survivors through Reach to Recovery. She is also an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion for the residents of the assisted living apartments at Masonic Homes.

Congratulations may be sent to the Ursuline Sisters of Louisville, 3115 Lexington Road, Louisville, Ky., 40206.

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