My Vocation Story – Sister Eva Boone

Sister Eva Boone’s earliest memories are of her farm home in Howardstown – a small community “nestled in a valley surrounded by the beautiful knobs of central Kentucky.”

The knobs – the wooded, cone-shaped hills so distinctive to Nelson and surrounding counties – provided a physical and spiritual setting for Sister Eva’s childhood. “I believe that my vocation has its roots in the God of nature and of the earth,” she says. Her memories include a natural attraction toward prayer: “Most evenings as the sun was setting along the Rolling Fork River, my Dad and I would visit the church for a little prayer time.”

Sister Eva Boone

Mary Estelle Boone was the fourth of the four daughters and four sons of Richard Leo (known as Leo, or “Mr. Leo”) and Eva Regina Spalding Boone. Surrounded by relatives, the Boone children enjoyed community ballgames and picnics, and “a yearly birthday party for each one of us – something that made us feel very special.”

Just across the road from their home were St. Ann Church and rectory, the sisters’ home and the two-room school where all the children were educated by Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph. “The sisters, along with my parents and large extended family, taught us to love learning – and life.”

She remembers regular trips across the road to deliver bread, milk and other farm produce to the sisters, who “joined in our prayer, dancing, sports, singing and treks through the woods and hills.” Sister Mary Rose (Charles Mary) Lindauer, her “most marvelous teacher” in grades 2, 3 and 4, became a special friend and guide. Mary Estelle joined the choir, directed by Sister Mary Rose. She took piano lessons and then “Sister Mary Rose led me to the organ.” After that, she regularly played for the choir.

For high school Mary Estelle attended St. Charles School in St. Mary, Ky. – a public school which in those days was almost totally staffed by Ursuline Sisters. After her junior year, she remembers, “I decided to join the Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph in their quest for God.” She entered the community as a postulant in September 1951.

After making temporary vows in August 1954, Sister Eva began a teaching ministry of 30 years. It was an energetic journey that took her from Owensboro to rural Nebraska, to Louisville and St. Louis, and to several other schools in Kentucky, Indiana and Missouri. Beginning as a primary teacher, she later began teaching junior high and several times served as principal. “I loved teaching,” she says. During this time, in 1954, she made perpetual vows as an Ursuline Sister.

Then, about 1980, Sister Eva experienced a call to a new ministry – a different kind of teaching. At LaSalle University in Philadelphia, she dedicated five summers to earning a master’s degree in pastoral ministry. She found the academic program enriching and inspiring, and she enjoyed the historical and cultural environment of the city, where she found “so much diversity – I was with people from all over the world!”

In 1984, Sister Eva began her ministry as director of religious education for St. Mary Parish in Hillview, in Bullitt County south of Louisville. After five years there, she went on to serve as pastoral associate in Burkesville and Albany in south central Kentucky, then in Fordsville in Ohio County south of Owensboro.

“Pastoral ministry with adults was tremendously challenging and rewarding,” Sister Eva says. “I was involved in the real daily lives of the people – I was invited into their sincere faith stories. This was still teaching, and much more.” She found herself working with other professionals, finding “opportunities for my own faith growth with those with whom I was working. Among these people I found lasting and deep relationships.” As a pastoral minister, she was engaged with persons of other faith traditions. She found this ecumenical aspect of her ministry especially rewarding.

Sr. EvaAfter 14 years in pastoral ministry, Sister Eva took time off for a well-earned three-month sabbatical at a retreat center in South Carolina. This experience served as a preparation for yet another ministry and another adventure – retirement and service at Mount Saint Joseph.

At the Mount, she rediscovered her love for needlework – she had loved knitting and crocheting since childhood. While serving as switchboard receptionist at Mount Saint Joseph Conference and Retreat Center, she met one of the group of spinners and weavers who regularly meet at the Center. This new friend was eager to share her talents with Sister Eva, an eager learner who soon added spinning and weaving to her talents.

But there was one craft that Sister Eva had not mastered: quilting. She remembers herself as a fascinated child standing by her mother’s side during quilting parties at home. “I’ve always wanted to quilt,” she told Sister Cordelia Spalding, one of the Mount’s master quilters and a Boone family friend. “She was so sweet,” Sister Eva remembers, “and she took me under her wing forever . . . almost until she died.” Now Sister Eva is a master quilter herself and a valuable member of the group of sisters and friends who create beautiful quilts for the Ursuline Quilt of the Month Club, a project that raises funds for the support of the retired sisters.

From 2006-10, Sister Eva served as coordinator of the Ursuline community’s Peace and Justice Committee. Today, Ursuline Associate Mary Danhauer leads this committee, and Sister Eva is still a dedicated member. She reflects that “since retirement it has become more clear to me that my Ursuline community strives to relieve the suffering of the most deprived, to help preserve the earth for humankind, to help women and men have equal rights – to wake up the world with justice.”

Sister Eva experiences her active retirement at the Mount as the completion of a circle that began with her childhood surrounded by the beauties of God – “God who is everywhere,” as she learned long ago from the Baltimore Catechism. “I am living here among the fruits of Mother Earth,” she says. “It’s where I came from, and I’m happy to be living amid the same kind of beauty here at the Mount.”

Comments

  1. Penny Burns

    Sr. Eva Marie has always been an inspiration to me…always has a smile! She is a wonderful person who is definitely an asset to the Community.

  2. Nancy Boone Wimsett

    I have fond memories of Howardstown and St.Ann School. Nice story and beautiful quilt you are working on in the picture. Happy retirement!

  3. Sally Murphy Buford

    When Sister was a teacher at St. Elizabeth in Curdsville one of her many duties was director of the choir. I vividly remember during choir practice she asked if I would consider singing alto. Being a pre-teen I did not want to do what I was asked to do so I readily told her “No”. Looking back I should have considered it an honor that she asked me. Your story was wonderful reading and I enjoyed all the background of your life. God bless you Sister!

  4. Bill Murphy

    I was taught by Sr. Eva Marie in first and second grades at St. Elizabeth in Curdsville, KY just a few miles down the road from the Ursuline motherhouse. The school was small, with four grades in one room. I can’t say that I remember anything specific that I learned that far back, but I was well prepared for the higher grades and I can’t remember a time when she expressed frustration with the kids. On second thought, I can remember something that I learned then. Being the smallest kid in the class, I sat in the front seat. In a room with four grades, most of the time she was working with the other three grades. When I would finish my assignment, I would look at the times table visual aid that she kept in the front of the room next to my row. By the time I finished first grade, I had memorized the times table up to 12 x 12. Perhaps that gave me the head start in math and science areas that eventually allowed me to become an engineering professor at Texas A&M and UK. Sister became principal of the school and taught the upper grades for a couple of years after that. I recall her challenging me to push myself, but a young kid likely doesn’t know how to push themselves at that age. However, I was surprised that she took that much of a personal interest in a young kid like me. As a lifelong educator, I have found at the post secondary level that students rarely express their appreciation for the extra effort put forth by a teacher. That is surely true in elementary schools as well, where the young kids don’t even realize what efforts are being made by the teacher. In retrospect, I am amazed at how Sister Eva Marie could handle teaching four grades at once while keeping a smile on her face at all times. It is impossible to say how my life may have turned out differently if I had had a teacher in first and second grades who didn’t take such a personal interest in my learning. However, Sister Eva Marie gave me a head start at the very beginning that helped me stay ahead all through my later education. So as someone who probably never thanked her while being her student, thank you so much, Sister, for everything you did for a little kid who probably turned out OK.

  5. june riley

    Patsy and June,sisters of

    Patsy and June, sisters of Sr.

    Patsy and June, sisters of Sr. Eva, read this script with much enthusiasum and joy. It brought back great memories and happiness of our days with her. Of course she was the idol of our father’s eye as well as our mother’s, and remained so until their death.
    She remains dear to all of us. —- Now there is more to this story but we won’t
    go into that…We dearly love her.

    eva,

  6. june riley

    Patsy and I read this script with great enthusiasm and joy. Sr Eva was the idol of our father’s eye. She was a sparkling cat in the house always trying to get out of doing the dishes by practicing piano, pretending to be dusting the floors upstairs by shuffling her feet on the floor while sitting in a chair to read a book, and what parent can scold a child for reading? But all the sibblings loved her and still do to this day.

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