Sister Claudia Hayden, OSU: “She gives quality care to those she touches.”


Sister Claudia is pictured with nephews Joseph, 13, left, and Derrick, 7, and niece Melissa, 16. Joseph is a seventh grader at Burns Middle School, Derrick, a second grader at West Louisville Grade School and Melissa, a sophomore at Owensboro Catholic High School.

When Sister Claudia Hayden began her novitiate as an Ursuline Sister of Mount Saint Joseph just under 40 years ago, she had visions of a ministry of teaching young children. In her early years as an Ursuline Sister she also expressed a desire to become a nurse and assist those in need of nursing care.

Her first visions materialized briefly, as she taught fourth grade students for five years in Stanley, Kentucky, and Florissant, Missouri. She also earned her nursing degree and has been in some type of nursing ministry, fulltime or part time, for the last 24 years. Sister Claudia no longer holds a teaching position and her nursing ministry is only part time.

Back when she began her novitiate she never envisioned a third ministry – family ministry – that would prove to be her longest, fulltime ministry, one filled with love and caring for a niece and two nephews.

Thirteen years ago, family circumstances developed which required Sister Claudia to come to the aid of her elderly mother, who had been caring for an active, three-year-old granddaughter.

Sister Claudia assists Melissa with her homework at the computer.

Sister Claudia began caring for her three-year-old niece as her work schedule permitted. When a special needs, newborn nephew entered into the picture, she moved into an apartment in Owensboro and continued to assist her mother as often as possible while continuing to work fulltime in her nursing ministry.

When a house on the grounds at the Mount became available, Sister Claudia was able to assume full care of the two children.

After several years, a second nephew – at one-and-a-half years of age – joined his siblings (to their delight) and Sister Claudia – faced with the task of raising three young children – went to a part time status in her nursing ministry and to a fulltime status in her family ministry.

Sister Claudia recalls that a vocation prayer helped her cope with the major challenge she had undertaken. She says, “A vocation prayer I read many years ago concluded with the words, For you, Lord, I will. With you I can! Often when I feel stretched, I first try to determine how I’ll manage the situation, relying on my own resources. When I finally realize my own inadequacy, that prayer returns to mind and God always works things out!

Sister Claudia enjoys a quiet moment with her nephews Joseph, left, and Derrick.

“When the Paul Volk Hall nurse position became available, it was certainly an answer to the dilemma of how to be active in Community while my ministry at home increasingly called for more of my time and energy.

“With this new ministry at the Mount I found the opportunity to be with the sisters five days a week, sharing my nursing skills with them, but being most blessed by their presence in my daily life. Beginning the workday at Mass with all the sisters at the motherhouse most days, then sharing a noon meal with them before finishing the day at the P.V.H. health care office affords the opportunity for community involvement that was so limited previously. The greatest gift of this renewed contact is their reflection of God’s presence to me every day.

“The entire community has helped our family in innumerable ways and I am forever grateful!”