Sister Marie Michael Hayden : “Her commitment is unmatched.”

Sister lends a helping hand during one of many fundraisers for the new church – a barbecue chicken sale. Other parishioners participating in the sale are, l. to r., Johanna Beeler, Mary Roby and Martha Payne.

In her ministry to the poor, elderly and disabled, Sister Marie Michael visits regularly with her next door neighbors, Ernie, and his mother, Alcie. Alcie says that Ernie had been experiencing some very difficult times. He had fallen into a very depressed state, unable to communicate with others. But, she says, the regular visits from Sister Marie Michael have hanged his outlook on life and that they both anxiously look forward to them.

“Right now we’re all excited with the prospect of the new church,” says Sister Marie Michael as she looks ahead to the new year. “The land has been donated by a protestant Fordsville resident, Bob Dunaway. The parishioners have pledged their financial support and are participating in numerous, ongoing fundraisers for the new church.” Ground has already been broken and, weather permitting, construction could be completed by midsummer. The present church, which was built in 1976, has a capacity of only 75. The new church will double that capacity.

Sister with catechists (l. to r.) Johanna Beeler, Chuck Payne and Christine Kemper Dietel.

Father Eric Riley is pastor of St. John’s. When asked about his working with Sister Marie Michael, he says, “In our time together, I have come to have full confidence in her ability to share with me in the pastoral responsibility of teaching, governing, and sanctifying the people of God, to the full extend allowed by the Church. Her faith-filled and faithful witness to the Gospel is an inspiration to all who encounter her. Her knowledge of the Catholic faith and clarity in handing on the faith are admirable.”

He, too, sees her love for people. “Her passion for people in need is a testament to her deep and abiding faith in Christ Jesus. Her ability to quietly lead others by example is a rare quality today. The parish of Saint John the Baptist is blessed by the love, concern and good work of Sister Marie Michael, who continues to serve our parish with the exemplary dedication to the faith and the people of God as the Ursuline Sisters who have served us in the past.”

Youth Minister Christine Dietel adds how she has seen the effect Sister Marie Michael has made on the small community of Fordsville. “She volunteers serving meals weekly at our senior citizen center and is involved in the homemakers club, makes visits to our local nursing home, and welcomes new people to the community. She encourages adults and youth to take an active role in and out of the church, from planting flowers and singing at the nursing home to reading at mass. Mass attendance and participation have grown since the arrival of Sister Marie Michael. She is truly a servant of our Lord.”