Sister Susanne Bauer grew up as a tomboy on a Kansas farm, and her mother was afraid her future might not be bright.
“My mother had concerns about what would happen to me,” Sister Susanne said. “She thought the sisters could do anything,” so her parents enrolled her in Ursuline Academy, the high school run by the Ursuline Sisters of Paola, Kan.
Without her mother’s concern, Sister Susanne might not be an Ursuline Sister today.
Sister Susanne was born Anna Mae Bauer and grew up in Louisburg, Kan., about 40 miles south of Kansas City, Kan. Her mother, Marie Auberger, came to America from Linz, Austria, after World War I, and settled in the Kansas City area, where she worked for the Sisters of Loretto for $3 a week.
One day Sister Susanne’s father, George Bauer, who grew up in Louisburg, asked his dad if he knew any women who would make a good wife. Some women in Kansas City suggested the young woman who’d moved there from Austria.
“My dad wasn’t impressed; her English wasn’t very good, but my grandpa said she’d make him a good wife,” Sister Susanne said. “They went together for a year and got married.” The couple died 20 months apart in the early 1960s.
Sister Susanne worked with the Ursuline Sisters of Paola while she was in Ursuline Academy and got to know them. “The sisters saw that if they kept me busy, I stayed out of trouble,” Sister Susanne said. “I decided that’s what I wanted to be.”
She entered as a postulant in February 1951, during her senior year of high school, before entering as a novice that August. She was an Ursuline Sister of Paola until 2008, when that community merged with Mount Saint Joseph. She moved to Maple Mount in 2009.
One of her first ministries in Paola was serving as sacristan for her community. Now in her 71st year of religious life, she has come full circle — living on a farm at Maple Mount, and ministering as the substitute sacristan for the Ursuline Sisters.
In between her sacristan ministries she spent more than 40 years in education and eight years as assistant superior of the community. Much of her education career was at St. John School in Bartlesville, Okla., which the Ursulines began in 1912.
“I said I would go for a year,” she said, but instead she stayed for 18, becoming principal from 1976-1989.
Her last ministry in Kansas before moving to Kentucky was as an assistant preschool teacher. “That was a lot of fun. I like kids,” she said.