Sister Marian Powers, OSU: Bringing Jesus home to the rest of us

Sister Rebecca White hands Sister Marian a package to mail in the community post office.

Update: Sister Marian Powers retired in 2016 and now serves in the powerhouse of prayer.

Sister Marian Powers taught at 10 schools over 33 years, and served in five more ministries since her teaching days ended. One might think that among so many transitions, there would be some bumps and bruises along the way.

Not so, she says. Every change has been met with a smile and a determination to do her ministry well. “I’ve always been that way,” she said.

“I’ve always admired Marian, she’s a person who could work in any circumstance and make it work,” said her sister, Ursuline Sister Rose Jean Powers. “She was never put off by anything that was asked of her, she just worked on it until it was where it needed to be.”

Sister Eva Boone was in the same novice class as Sister Marian, and recalls what a steady presence she had during her years as local coordinator for the Motherhouse.

“She was not the center of attention, but she was aware of what people needed,” Sister Eva said. “She’s very dependable.”

These days, Sister Marian works three days a week in the Motherhouse community post office, splitting the week with the former postmaster, Sister Frances Joseph Porter.

“I love it,” she said. “I love meeting the people and working with numbers. And Sister Frances Joseph is really wonderful to work with.”

Whatever role Sister Marian has been asked to fill, she’s ultimately had only one purpose since she became an Ursuline Sister 57 years ago.

“I hoped I would bring people closer to God,” she said. “Whatever I’m doing, I hope people are going to see Jesus. If I don’t bring people closer to Jesus, then my life has been wasted.”

Sister Marian always has a ready smile, so she knows her life isn’t wasted. “Every once in awhile, I get an inkling that someone is catching on,” she said.

Sister Marian’s family, in this photo taken in 1982. In front kneeling, from left, her sisters Gussie and Sister Rose Jean; standing, from left, is Sister Marian, her brother Kenneth, her father Everett, her mother Eva Mae, her brother Verrill, her sister Eulaine, her brother Raphael, and her sister, Sister Ann Roberta.

She still wears the veil, because it causes people to have a reaction, some with anger, some with joy, she said. One day in a store, a girl came up to her and said, “Are you a real nun?” When Sister Marian said she was, the girl told her not to move, then ran off. She came back a moment later with an older girl, pointed to Sister Marian and said, “There she is. I told you, she’s a real nun.”

The big Powers family

Sister Marian’s mother, Eva Mae, was a homemaker for her 10 children, and her father, Everett, was a carpenter, mostly for construction jobs. For many years he traveled from the family home in the Ohio River town of Cloverport, Ky., to Ft. Knox, to work on construction of the Army base. The children didn’t get to see their father much in those days, she said.

“I remember the first thing we did when he came home was vie for his lunchbox to see what he didn’t eat for lunch,” Sister Marian said. “I loved peanut butter and jelly sandwiches when the jelly was soaked in the bread.”

After dinner, her father would sit her on his lap and help her with her homework, Sister Marian said. There were five boys and five girls, with Sister Marian the middle girl and the fifth child. Because all her sisters were either several years older or younger, she never had girls to play with, so she played with her brothers, she said.

“My mother taught me things she didn’t have time to teach my sisters,” she said. “When I was 10, she taught me to crochet rag rugs, Boy, I felt important,” she said.

Still today, Sister Marian crochets in her free time, making baby blankets and coaster doilies. She also enjoys cross-stitching and cooking.