After graduating from Brescia in 1974 she began her teaching career at St. Paul’s in Leitchfield where she taught first grade as well as second grade religion. Three years later she was called home to work and was asked if she would be interested in going into nursing school.
“Some of the sisters were saying I was a natural with the sick,” she recalls. She began school that fall and got her LPN. She then went on and got her Masters in teaching with concentration in early childhood education. She had the credentials for a career that would take her back and forth from teaching young children to caring for the elderly.
After spending six years as a nurse in the motherhouse at Maple Mount, Sister Betsy was assigned to San Fidel, New Mexico, where she ministered as principal and first grade teacher for six years.
After four years as second grade and kindergarten teacher at Saint Francis Cathedral School in Santa Fe, she left the classroom and served as principal at St. Mary’s School in Pierce City, Missouri, for three years before returning to Maple Mount for one year as a nurse.
She returned to education as principal and helped set up a new school at Holy Angels in the Owensboro Catholic School System. She then taught at Bishop Soenneker for two years until that school closed and for one year at Catherine Spalding. During that period she found time to go back to school and earn her Rank I in school administration.
While at Bishop Soenneker, Sister Betsy began facing a major challenge in her life – breast cancer. After undergoing surgery, radiation and chemotherapy treatment, she taught at Catherine Spalding for one year before going on a one-year sabbatical. While on the sabbatical she decided to return to nursing….for now.
She returned to the motherhouse in 2003 as a nurse for two months and was quickly moved up to Director of Nursing. In October of 2004 she was named Healthcare Administrator.
“I am who I am because of the lifestyle I have led, opportunities that I have received,” says Sister Betsy. “I’ve had a rich education, not just an education in schools, but an education socially.”
Today she supervises a staff of 33 at Saint Joseph Villa. They tend to the needs of the 35 residents of the Villa and to the other sisters on campus, as needed.
“She’s a very good leader,” says nurse assistant Nesie Powell when asked about the healthcare administrator. “She’s very efficient and organized and gets her job done. She’s very thorough.” She continues, “When she says she’s going to do something, she does it. And she’s really nice to all of us. If someone is sick she’s always concerned with what’s going on in our lives.”
Sister Betsy’s availability impresses nurse Mary Wigginton. “She always makes herself available,” says Wigginton. “If you need something after hours, she’s always receptive to those phone calls. She’s always receptive and she always ends those phone calls by saying I know you know what you’re doing, I trust your judgment. That’s very empowering. On the lighter side Wigginton proclaims, “And she bakes the best brownies, which she shares with all of us.”
Unit Coordinator Rachel Travis will complete 10 years at Mount Saint Joseph in May. She enjoys working with Sister Betsy and she says the sisters really love her. “Sister makes sure everything is okay.” she says. “She makes sure the sisters are well and everything is taken care of. She does her job very well.
“She is really fun to work with, even though she is very particular with the way she wants things done. She does things in a very professional way.
“And the sisters really love her. If they need something, she gets it for them. She takes care of them well.”
While caring for the sisters in Saint Joseph Villa, Sister Betsy may find herself thinking back to Nebraska City and her caring for her blind grandmother when she was only 12 years old.
She has spent most of her life caring for the elderly or taking care of or teaching young children.
Because of her love for children, particularly small children, does she miss contact with them in the classroom?
She admits, “There are days, times, moments when I really miss being part of a school, the parents, the teachers, the children. There’s a richness there. There’s an opportunity to make a difference. There’s an opportunity to be a spiritual example. There’s an opportunity maybe to save a child. I have a love for both. I have always enjoyed taking care of children, but I have also always been involved with older people.
Today it’s an involvement with older people at the Villa. Does she find self-satisfaction with her ministry today?
Sister Betsy says, “My ministry satisfaction comes when I see the sister-residents happy and content with their care, the staff working as a team and for the good of all, and within the facility, one can recognize the distinct aura of compassion and hospitality with each visit; truly a sign that this is holy ground. Then, I am satisfied that God anoints the journey I take to serve those in my care.”
What’s next? Says Sister Betsy, “I do look forward to a day when I can move closer to home and do something either for older people or with children again.”