Sister Luisa Bickett, OSU: “I’ve always felt drawn to the poor.”

Sisters in Ministry Update:

As of July 2011, Sister Luisa Bickett retired and currently ministers in the Powerhouse of Prayer at the Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph Motherhouse.

Sister Luisa Bickett has lived in this small, frame house in rural Ohio County for the last 19 years.

“Just before the Hispanics came (to Ohio County), I was trying to make plans to return to South America when those plans suddenly changed and I had to remain in Horse Branch. A few months later the Hispanics began coming to Ohio County, and I felt like I could be more help here. I had been wanting to return to Latin America, and Latin America came to me.”

Sister Luisa Bickett, an Ursuline Sister of Mount Saint Joseph who has been a fixture in rural Ohio County for 22 years, was looking back at how the Lord works in such beautiful ways, having the right people in the right place at the right time as has been the case with her journey from New Mexico and Kentucky classrooms to South America and finally to rural Ohio County, Kentucky.

Sister Luisa serves as an interpreter for Arisbeth Medina when she brings her son, Andres, to the Owensboro office of Dr. Michael F. Yeiser for a regular checkup.

Sister Luisa, who has resided in Ohio County for the last 22 years, was born in Ohio County (“just at the edge of the county, across from Daviess County”) to Henry and Ina Belle Bickett, the fourth oldest of 10 children, five boys and five girls. Henry Bickett, a farmer, moved his family across the county line into Daviess County when Luisa was five years old.

Sister Luisa was Ursuline-taught throughout grade school (Saint Raphael’s) and high school (Mount Saint Joseph Academy). She says she can’t remember when she didn’t have the calling to religious life, but she didn’t take it seriously until she made a retreat her senior year of high school. “I knew what I wanted to do,” Sister Luisa recalls, “but I didn’t talk to anyone about it until about a month before I entered the convent that fall. I told Sister Louis Bertrand about my decision, and she was very supportive.”

Sister Luisa’s interpretation skills are also helpful to Arisbeth during a visit to the Social Security office.

She returned to Mount Saint Joseph that fall as a postulant. This was followed by two years as a novice before she began her teaching career in 1950 at Saint Thomas School in Farmington, New Mexico. She taught all subjects to the middle grades for 11 years at Saint Thomas before returning to Kentucky to teach for one year at Jeffersontown. After one year at San Fidel in New Mexico, Sister Luisa returned to Farmington for two years before making plans for a major change in her ministry – her first venture to South America.

She wasn’t scheduled to leave for Chile, South America, until mid-December, so Sister Luisa taught from September to mid-December at Saint Elizabeth School in Curdsville.

In 1965 Pope John XXIII had appealed to all American religious communities to send 10 percent of their members to South America to combat the spread of Communism there. Sister Luisa and Sister Mary Gerard Thomas were among the first Ursuline sisters to venture into South America. (Note: Sister Mary Gerard is now a Sister of Charity, Sister Carolyn Thomas).