(Sister Marian went to heaven on Nov. 27, 2017.)
From the time she was 6 years old, Ursuline Sister Marian Powers and her family lived just a few blocks from St. Rose of Lima Church in Cloverport, Ky., overlooking the Ohio River.
“Mom said at least one member of the family had to be at Mass every day,” Sister Marian said. “You bring Jesus home to the rest of us,” was her mother’s request.
Four of the 10 Powers children followed a religious vocation. Sister Marian’s oldest sister is Sister Ann Roberta Powers, a Sister of Charity of Nazareth who has ministered as a teacher in India for 67 years. Ursuline Sister Rose Jean Powers is 10 years younger and continues to minister at the Brescia University Bookstore in Owensboro. Her late brother Clyde was a priest. It was her parents’ example that showed the importance of God in their life, she said.
“My parents never preached religion to us, they lived it,” she said. “They were kind to everybody. The railroad was not too far, and when beggars would come by, my mother would ask them to come in.”
The boys in her family attended the public high school in Cloverport, but Sister Marian’s parents wanted the girls to attend private school. Sister Ann Roberta went to St. Vincent’s Academy in Waverly, Ky., which was run by the Sisters of Charity, but Sister Marian got a scholarship to attend Mount Saint Joseph Academy.
“The Ursulines taught us in Cloverport at St. Rose of Lima,” Sister Marian said. Sister Mary Cornelius Smith taught her sixth through eighth grades, and was instrumental in getting her a scholarship to the Academy.
“The nuns all said they knew I would be a nun, but I didn’t know it,” Sister Marian said.
She loved her years at the Academy. “Being a boarder, the sisters were very empathetic that we were away from home,” she said.
“We weren’t allowed to leave campus, but we wanted to go to a store in St. Joseph that had homemade ice cream,” Sister Marian said. “We asked Sister Marguerite (Younker), ‘Can we go to Joetown for ice cream?’ and she said, ‘You know I can’t give you permission to do that. But if I don’t see you, nothing can be done about it.’ Then she turned her back and we took off,” Sister Marian said with her trademark smile.
Sister Marian had to work to pay her tuition, and one job she had was in the library with Sister Joseph Marie Williams.
“She had to read all the new books to make sure there was nothing objectionable for us,” Sister Marian said. “She let me read the new books, and I’d tell her if they were OK or not.”
As a freshman she worked in the girl’s infirmary, and one day Sister Mary Paul Montgomery asked her to sit down over a snack of buttermilk and cornbread to talk about her parents. When Sister Marian started to cry, Sister Mary Paul told her she had sensed she was homesick.
“After that, I was fine,” Sister Marian said.
During her junior year, Sister Marian decided she wanted to join the Ursulines, and she entered in the fall of 1951, a few months after graduating from the Academy. Of the 18 who took the habit the following year, she is one of six who remain from that novice class, the others being Sisters Ruth Gehres, Eva Boone, Helen Leo Ebelhar, Michael Ann Monaghan and Mary Diane Taylor.
From 1954 to 1987, Sister Marian’s ministries were all in education as either a teacher or principal at 11 different Kentucky schools. In 1987 she became a pastoral minister at St. Mary of the Woods Parish in McQuady, Ky., and at her former home parish of St. Rose of Lima. She held a similar position at St. Anthony in Axtel, Ky. (1991-94) and again at St. Rose of Lima (1999-2003.) From 1994-99, she was the local coordinator at the Motherhouse.
Since 2005, she has shared the postmaster duties at the Motherhouse in Maple Mount. She has never regretted her decision to become an Ursuline Sister.
“I never looked back, I knew this is what I wanted,” Sister Marian said.