Ursuline Sister Marcella Schrant wanted to become a secretary when she was a senior in high school. It only took 62 years to get her wish.
In those intervening years she became an Ursuline Sister of Paola, Kan., and following a merger in 2008, an Ursuline Sister of Mount Saint Joseph.
Sister Marcella grew up in Walker, Kan., a small Russian and German farming community in western Kansas best known for its airbase used during World War II. She was the fifth of seven children born to Henry and Katie Schrant, who were farmers.
“We moved to Richmond in 1939, when I was in the 8th grade. I went to a one-room schoolhouse for a year,” Sister Marcella said. “We played ball on Sundays, we watched the adults play cards. I had to milk the cows before school.”
It was in Richmond, a small town about 35 miles southwest of Paola, that Sister Marcella first met the Ursuline Sisters.
“The Ursulines came over on Saturday mornings to the church in Richmond to teach religion to the public school students,” she said. “I was 12. They also came two weeks in the summer.”
It was a vocation that led Sister Marcella to the Ursulines, but not a religious vocation. “When I was a senior in high school, my friend and I decided to be secretaries,” Sister Marcella said. “She had two aunts who were Ursulines, they recruited students to Ursuline College. They had a two-year college to teach secretarial skills.”
It didn’t take long for Sister Marcella to recognize her true vocation.
“I was there one semester and I decided to enter the community. I guess it was the Lord’s doing,” she said. It was January 1945.
“Five of us entered, I was the only one who stayed,” she said. “They called me ‘the Rock.’ I don’t think I’d have had the nerve to go by myself.”
From 1990-94 she served a term as superior of the Ursulines of Paola, then spent 10 years as a receptionist at the St. Lawrence Catholic Campus Center in Lawrence, on the campus of the University of Kansas. She worked in parish ministry for three years, and then in 2007 she finally got to put her secretarial skills to use when she served as office assistant at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Lawrence. She served there until late 2014, when she moved to Maple Mount. She is now volunteering in the Mission Advancement office, as well as elsewhere at the Motherhouse.
“What a great life!” Sister Marcella said with her usual zeal. “It hardly seems possible that on Oct. 21 I will celebrate my 70th anniversary as an Ursuline Sister. God has blessed me with good health. I have had so many opportunities to do different ministries. Each year gets better.”