Sister Lennora Carrico, OSU

Wake Reflection for Sister Lennora Carrico, OSU

“My grace is enough for you; my great strength is revealed in weakness”. Sister Lennora lived by this verse from 2nd Corinthians. She believed that God’s grace was enough for her. She trusted that God never faltered. God was there.

Born to Thomas Aubrey Carrico and Mary Edna Carrico Carrico was a baby girl, Mary Lucian on December 8, 1915 in Fancy Farm, KY. Mary Lou, as she was known was the oldest of seven children born to Aubrey and Mae, as their mother was called. Ruth, Lenna and Rudy are deceased and Anna, Dot and Bob still live. And to you, the family of Carricos and Willetts, nieces and nephews and extended family, the Ursuline Sisters thank you for the gift of Sister Lennora and we give you our prayers and sympathy.

Mary Lou remembered living close to St. Jerome Church and School in Fancy Farm. She attended St. Jerome grade and high school taught by the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, KY.

Growing up in the Carrico house meant each child had certain chores to do. It seems these chores rotated weekly so that all children learned to do all the chores. Doing the dishes proved to have caused the most disturbances and the biggest commotion in the household. When the children could receive communion, at their mother’s insistence the children were sent to church daily to receive communion at 6:15 a.m. They, then, returned home for a hot breakfast, left for school and attended daily Mass which was part of the school schedule. (This was definitely before Vatican II.) Living so close to school, the children went home for a hot lunch. Mary Lou often commented that she envied those children who could bring their lunch…those peanut butter sandwiches looked so good. And when it rained their mother would bring hot soup to them at school so that her children didn’t have to walk home in the rain.” Imagine how embarrassed we felt”, said Mary Lou.

Mary Lou described her father as a retiring person, but certainly a small town politician. When the governor would come, the children would be dressed to stand in line to shake his hand. The father would be so proud of them. Their father always told his children, “Whatever your mother says” is the only answer he would give them. It was a ritual that the children went through from mother to father and father to mother, hoping that they would get their father to say something differently.

After high school, it seemed to Mary Lou that her classmates made life decisions easily, but it didn’t go that way for her. She worked several jobs and really didn’t find peace. She then decided that she could come to college here at the Mount Saint Joseph Junior College. After all, her mother had come to school here. Her Aunt, Sister Lucian Carrico was Ursuline but dead. Another Aunt Sister Augusta Carrico was a Franciscan Sister. After completing her first year of college she went home knowing she wanted to return to be an Ursuline. She had found her peace. This she shared with her Mom, who smiled as if to say I thought you would enter. Mary Lou was in hopes that her Mom would share this news with her father. Nothing doing. Mary Lou would have to do that. One day, Mary Lou found her Dad sitting on the porch reading the newspaper. So, she gets broom and goes out to sweep the porch. She swept and she swept. She would come right up to his back, lose her courage and sweep again. Finally she blurted out that she wanted to enter the convent. Her father said, “If that’s what you want to do, but I’d rather you went to Nazareth so you could come home.” Surprising herself she said, “But, I don’t think Nazareth is where I belong.” He seemed satisfied with that answer.

In January, 1938 Mary Lou joined the Mount Saint Joseph Ursuline Novitiate as a postulant, joining classmates Sisters Mary Catherine Kuper, Ethel Sims, Marie Spalding and Rosita Willett.

In August, 1938 Mary Lou received the habit and was known as Sister Lennora. Two years later she made temporary vows and was sent on her very first mission to teach High School at St. Joseph School in Owensboro. Her teaching career took her to St. Bernard in Clementsville, St. Alphonsus High School, Mount St. Joseph Academy, St. Catherine, New Haven, Grayson County Catholic High in Leitchfield, Trinity High in Whitesville and the Education Department at Brescia College. Over those years she was both teacher and administrator. During those years she finished her first degree, went to Fontbonne in St. Louis for her Masters, did further studies at Western University in Bowling Green, Catholic University in Washington, DC, Vanderbilt in Nashville and Loyola in Chicago. She would do many other studies in preparation for new ministries.

Sister Lennora never shied away from challenges. In 1974 she and Sister Margaret Ann Aull started a new ministry in Peonia and the surrounding areas of Grayson County, working with the elderly. She with the assistance of the Methodist minister secured a building known as the Senior Center. Sister Lennora eventually became the Coordinator for the Aging in Grayson County. This was a federal program and the paper work simply got to be too much for her. She took a break…volunteering at the hospital here in Owensboro, worked with the hospice program. She trained some of them in the trauma associated with death. This last week when hospice worked with her, I couldn’t help but be reminded they had gone full circle. I want to thank the pastoral care and the health care staff for your love and concern and help. You are the best would be Sister Lennora’s words for you. It is also the Ursuline Sisters words to you.

Sister Lennora, during a summer time taught religion to the men at the Eddyville prison. The men told the priest, “We really liked her, she cared.” That statement was something Sister Lennora always remembered. She often said, we need to be Hallmark people. We care enough to give our best.

The ministry with the elderly, the sick and homebound took her back to Grayson County once again…this time to St. Joseph. Her ministry there was well received and she was loved. Also she taught in the RCIA program in those years.

Sister Lennora loved people. She was most happy when helping them. She felt that her greatest gift was being able to identify with people. She called herself an aggressive individual who could usually get things done. And we who live here can testify to that. When she spoke, we moved.

In 1988, Sister came home to the motherhouse, not to retire but to be active in Personal and Pastoral Care. From 1989-2003 she reported motherhouse activities as the Motherhouse annalist. Her details have been invaluable in verifying many tidbits of information.

Sister Lennora was a community woman. She loved being an Ursuline Sister.

Until the very end she tried to be present for community meetings and prayer. She wanted all the information of community. Sister loved her family. When she could travel she loved visiting in Cincinnati, Fancy Farm, Benton and later Calvert City. Nieces and nephews and your accomplishments were important to her. Sister’s prayer life was felt by all of us. In 1982, Sister made an Angela retreat that some of us had designed. What an experience she had! Then she made the Angela retreat that Sister Martha Buser offered. She read and studied St. Angela….loved our founder. Although she never visited Italy, never visited the places of St. Angela, she enjoyed others sharing their visits with her. She would have loved to have gone, but she said, “I need to be about my work, I don’t have the time for visiting faraway places.” Sister was a great listener. She listened to many, employees, priests, sisters. She would say “well, I don’t know why they stopped by to talk”. We all know she was still very capable of giving advice.

When asked what were the significant events of your life, she said: I am the only MSJ Ursuline to have taught in an all boys school, in an all girls school, and in co-ed schools. I taught religion to the men of the Eddyville Penitentiary. And with a smile she would say and I encouraged the love of national sports among the sisters. We all know that the KY basketball team were her boys! We knew what Jeff her nephew, was doing in the Sports world.

What made Sister Lennora at age 96 continue to be young at heart? Sister knew that life is not simply what happens to us, but life is what we ourselves make happen. And she made things happen. She knew that we become what we do, we become new inside when we urge ourselves to do new things, and look at all the new ground that she traveled in her ministry years. Sister lived her life modeled on some quotes she often threw out appropriately. None of them trite. Do your best each day. Don’t worry God knows your heart. I hope to die as I have lived doing his will. The best is yet to be. God’s grace is enough for me. People helping people are the best kind of people.

What a person! What a life! I conclude with a prayer that Sister composed.

“Dear Lord, my life has been one long instance of how good you have been to me. I beg you to always keep me close to you and help me see you in all I meet and serve. I want to be your mother Mary’s devoted daughter.”

Sister Lennora, thank you for being Ursuline, for being my teacher, for being my friend. I consider it my blessing to have been with you when you breathed your last breath and God called you to your eternal home.

Sister Mary Matthias Ward


  1. Carol Hill

    My,O’My Sister Lennora. My friend,prayer pardoner, family friend etc. You have been such an inspiration in my life for so many years. You have taught me so much about life, Love and God, and how to listen,and be helpful where needed.
    So happen you have met Jesus.
    Peace, Carol

  2. Ellen Erwin

    Sister Lennora was such wonderful person and a very important member of our family. She will be greatly missed. She was such a positive role model and someone that I think we should all try to model our lives after.

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