With the Guest House and Bethany – two locations at Maple Mount where those visiting the Sisters stay – both closed due to Covid-19, Sister Cecelia Joseph Olinger expected her ministry as coordinator of those two facilities to disappear for a while. It turned out she just had to adapt to a newer version of that ministry.
“I became the ‘go-between’ for some who wanted to know how certain Sisters were doing,” Sister Cecelia Joseph said. November was an especially difficult month, when six Sisters went to heaven.
“This was especially true in the case of a group of alumnae who had kept up with Sister Rosemary Keough,” she said. “It was also true for the Western Kentucky Associates who had Sister Fran Wilhelm as director and Sister Teresa Riley as a member of their group. I tried to keep them informed as to how these Sisters were doing, notified them of their deaths, and emailed obituaries to them. I also emailed information about livestreamed services, gathered worship aids and memorial cards to send them.”
Sister Cecelia Joseph – her friends call her “C.J.” – also serves part time in the Mount Post Office, a ministry that actually increased when Covid cases spiked during the winter.
“A few more local people came to get stamps or mail packages to avoid crowds in Owensboro,” she said. “With friends and relatives not being able to visit Sisters and people ordering online, we had a greater volume of packages.” Associate groups also orchestrated a card-writing campaign for the Sisters, which increased what the Post Office received, she said.
While the winter of Covid was difficult on the Sisters, Sister C.J. knows the Ursulines in Maple Mount have had it better than some other women religious.
“I’ve become increasingly aware of how blessed we are to have daily Mass and Eucharist,” she said. “Two Sister friends who live at their Motherhouses don’t have that blessing, even having to bury their Sisters without the benefit of Mass.”