Sister Marie Montgomery, OSU: Jan. 27, 1923-Aug. 18, 2023

Sister Marie Montgomery, 100, an Ursuline Sister of Mount Saint Joseph, died Friday, Aug. 18, 2023, at Mount Saint Joseph, in her 79th year of religious life. She was a native of Saint Lawrence, Ky.

Sister Marie was a teacher for 63 years in Kentucky, New Mexico, and Missouri. Her eyes would light up when she talked about her students. She never slowed down, which she believed led to her long life.

She attended Mount Saint Joseph Junior College, Maple Mount, 1942-50, and the College of St. Joseph, Albuquerque, N.M., 1959-60. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Brescia College, Owensboro, in 1963 and also took classes at Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, Ky., and other colleges.

In Kentucky, she taught at St. Thomas More School in Paducah (1948-55); St. Charles School in Lebanon in 1955; St. Paul School in Leitchfield in 1956; St. Alphonsus School in St. Joseph (1960-62), and St. Columba School in Louisville (1962-69).

In Missouri, she taught at Seven Holy Founders School in Afton (1946-48) and St. Teresa School in Glennonville (1996-97).

In New Mexico, she taught at Sacred Heart School in Farmington (1956-58, 1973-91, 1993-94); Sacred Heart Academy in Waterflow (1958-60); Immaculate Conception School in Cuba (1997-98); and St. Francis of Assisi School in Gallup (1998-2007). She also served as principal at St. Joseph School in San Fidel (1969-73) and returned to teach there from 1991-92.

Sister Marie served as a parish minister in churches in Houck, Ariz. (1992-93) and Farmington, N.M. (1994-96).

After retiring to the Motherhouse in 2007, she helped distribute mail to the Sisters and was an information receptionist.

Survivors include the members of her religious community, nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents, Hilary and Emma May Montgomery; and her siblings Catherine Pickrell, Vincent Montgomery, Sister Dorothea Montgomery (RSM), Therese Higdon, Virginia Manion and John Montgomery.

The funeral Mass will be at 10:30 a.m. Monday, Aug. 21, 2023, at Mount Saint Joseph, where visitation will begin Sunday at 4 p.m., with a wake service following at 6:30 p.m.

Glenn Funeral Home and Crematory, Owensboro, is in charge of arrangements.

Donations in memory of Sister Marie may be made to the Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph, 8001 Cummings Road, Maple Mount, KY 42356.

Wake Reflection for Sister Marie Montgomery

By Sister Sharon Sullivan
Congregational Leader

Aug. 20, 2023

Friday afternoon, August 18, 2023, Sister Marie Montgomery surrendered completely into the welcoming embrace of her loving God. It seemed only fitting, after her nearly eighty years as an Ursuline Sister of Mount Saint Joseph and spending more than sixty of those sharing faith and a love of learning with children, that the Gospel reading for the next day’s Mass was this from Saint Matthew (19:13-15): “Children were brought to Jesus that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked them, but Jesus said, ‘Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’”

Sister Marie was born more than one hundred years ago to the family of Hilary and Emma May Montgomery on a wintry Saturday, January 27, 1923; a date that is now the feast of Saint Angela Merici. As the temperature dipped below freezing into February, perhaps it was just too snowy to hitch up the wagon to bring the new addition to the Montgomery family to church. For it was almost two months later on Sunday, March 18, 1923, that the newborn daughter was brought to Saint Lawrence Church and baptized Mary Hilary Montgomery.

She joined her sisters – Catherine and Virginia – and her brother Vincent in the growing young family in Saint Lawrence, Kentucky. Soon these four would be joined with two more sisters – Therese and Agnes (who would become Sister Dorothea) – and another brother, John, completing the family. Knowing that the family is now reunited once again, we Ursuline sisters offer our condolences and prayers to Sister Marie’s family still remaining here – her sister-in-law, Barbara, and her many nieces and nephews.

Growing up in rural Daviess County in the 1920’s and 1930’s, schools were not just around the corner nor were they a convenient bus stop away. When she turned six, Mary Hilary began her education in a school way off in the hamlet of Skillmon, Kentucky, near tiny Dodd and Sunny Corner. For three years she attended there, then her fourth year was in the opposite direction at Thruston Elementary Public School.

It was not until her fifth or sixth year of school that Mary Hilary was able to enroll in a Catholic school and study with the Ursuline Sisters. She finished her elementary school years at Saint William’s, remembering especially her Mount Saint Joseph Ursuline teachers, Sister Fidelis and Sister Marie Therese. It was also there at Saint William’s that Mary Hilary was confirmed with the rest of her class on April 28, 1936.

When she was ready for high school, Mary Hilary was able to attend Saint Williams High School where she came under the influence and tutelage of Ursuline Sister, Sister Rose Emma, who was then principal of Saint Williams. When Mary Hilary graduated from high school four years later on May 31, 1942, she was a young adult in a country and world at war.

Possibly following the guidance of Sister Rose Emma, Mary Hilary enrolled at Mount Saint Joseph Junior College for Women to study business, but also went to work in the factories in Evansville, Indiana. Perhaps she there joined the ranks of the young women serving their country in a time of war and forging new paths as one of the “Rosie the Riveters.”

It was in Evansville that Mary Hilary received her letter in July 1943 from Mount Saint Joseph urging her to continue the journey she had already begun and to consider joining the class of postulants that September.

And so, Mary Hilary answered the call to dedicate herself to a deeper love and duty, becoming a postulant of the Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph on Tuesday, September 7, 1943. When asked what her motivation was to seek religious life, Mary Hilary responded: “I feel that it is my calling, and I want to fulfill my duty.”

Within a year, on Monday, August 14, 1944, Mary Hilary became a novice, taking the name Sister Marie, and joining the two others in her class, Sister Charles Joseph Eberhard and Sister Joseph Mary Millar. Taking vows two years later on Thursday, August 15, 1946, Sister Marie went post haste (while still taking classes at Mount Saint Joseph Junior College) to her first teaching mission in the fourth and fifth grade at Seven Holy Founders School in Afton, Missouri. Thus began a commitment and love that would flourish for more than sixty years.

For the next ten years, Sister Marie taught fourth and fifth grades at Seven Holy Founders and at Saint Thomas More in Paducah and Saint Charles in Lebanon, Kentucky: with one semester among seventh and eighth grade boys at Saint Paul in Leitchfield. She would later claim that this was her favorite semester of teaching, even though “most of the boys were taller than I was, I did not have one discipline problem. They were lovely students.” A group of them once told her they had learned more from her than any other teacher.

In 1956, Sister Marie went to Farmington, New Mexico, teaching at Sacred Heart School and later at Sacred Heart Academy in Waterflow, staying in New Mexico this first time for four years. She also managed to keep studying for her degree at the College of Saint Joseph in Albuquerque.

The 1960’s saw her back in Kentucky at Saint Alphonsus School, across the street in Saint Joseph, and at Saint Columba’s in Louisville. But in 1969, Sister Marie travelled back to New Mexico where she would remain for the next thirty-eight (38) years, with one brief foray in 1996 to Saint Teresa School in Glennonville, Missouri.

Sister Marie Montgomery would share her love of learning and teaching and storytelling among the fourth and fifth grades in Saint Joseph School in San Fidel, Sacred Heart in Farmington, and Saint Francis of Assisi School in Gallup, New Mexico. She took a break to do parish ministry at Sacred Heart Parish in Farmington and parish ministry/missionary work at Saint John the Evangelist in Houck, Arizona, where she taught religious education with Navajo children at the Tekakwitha Mission and to children in the BIA schools.

As Sister Marie was first contemplating stepping away from the classroom, the Director of Education for the Diocese of Gallup entreated her to remain in the classroom, writing to her “I am aware of your health concerns and advancing age, but I am also aware of your dedication to Catholic education and your fine teaching manner. Frankly I feel that should you continue your plans (to step away), that would be a waste of your talents and that the school program would suffer greatly.” It seems that many felt that Sister Marie Montgomery was indeed fulfilling her duty and doing it quite well.

While teaching at Saint Francis of Assisi in Gallup, Sister Marie reflected on the thoughts of Saint Angela and the words of Jesus in the Gospel of John (15:16), “You did not choose me, no I chose you; and I commission you to go out to bear fruit, fruit that will last.” Sister Marie commented: “I feel that as a teacher, I am fulfilling God’s call to go out and bear fruit. The singular gift of which Angela spoke – being chosen – must be a total commitment. One must be constant and persevering in this total commitment. Each child, each person is a daily reminder of that ‘singular gift’ of which Angela spoke. I hope to persevere and make continual progress to the very end when God will call me home.”

Sister Marie enjoyed the hospitality and adventure of New Mexico and the Southwest, but while she might have been a fearless competitor at cards and both joyful and disciplined in the classroom, there just might have been limits to her fearlessness.

A tale was shared at her 50th Jubilee Celebration about a trip that she and Sister Charles Marie made to Pagosa Springs, Colorado. Word had it that while she and Sister Charles Marie were driving in the mountains above Pagosa Springs, the car overheated. They needed water and there was a creek nearby; but it turned out that Sister Marie was deathly afraid of bears and would not get out of the car. So brave Sister Charles Marie hiked down to the creek and filled her shoes with water to bring back for the radiator. Sister Marie Montgomery – both a fearless and a fearful adventurer.

So it was a good thing that there were no bears at Mount Saint Joseph when Sister Marie came home in 2007. For she continued her exercises and card playing, walking briskly gathering and delivering the mail, and practicing her hospitality as an information receptionist for several years.

It was also during these years, at skits during our Community Days, that we also discovered that Sister Marie Montgomery had that rare ability to stand before us with her poker face, apparently quite serious, then surprise us all and bring the house down when she – at full volume – bleated like a sheep. Mehh. Who knew she had such talents.

Some six or seven years ago, Sister Marie Montgomery retired from those duties to share her last years with the sisters and staff in the Villa. And for all those who have laughed, and prayed, and worked with Sister Marie over those years, we offer our thanks for your loving care and extend our sympathy and prayers.

And now, Sister Marie Montgomery, you have indeed persevered, I’m sure that now, when asked how you are doing, you will no longer respond, “Fit as a fiddle with a broken string,” but joyfully acclaim from Song of Songs (2:10): “My lover speaks and says to me, ‘Arise, my friend, my beautiful one and come!’”

And so, duty done, you are home at last.




  1. Janet K Kuper

    Thank you for the time you spent at Saint Teresa in Glennonville. I remember the meals we had together and the gentle way you taught. God give you peace and joy!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *