Sister Mary Diane Taylor, 88, an Ursuline Sister of Mount Saint Joseph, died June 28, 2021, in Maple Mount, Ky., in her 69th year of religious life. She grew up in a large family in the small town of Fredericktown, Ky., one of 11 children born to the late William and Eliza Diane Taylor. She was baptized and confirmed at Holy Trinity Church. Having been taught by Ursuline Sisters throughout her childhood, she joined their religious community right after graduation. Her love for art and education made her a beloved and respected teacher for more than 60 years.
Sister Mary Diane earned a bachelor’s degree in art from Brescia College (now University) in Owensboro, Ky., in 1964 and a master’s degree in art from the University of Notre Dame in 1967.
Sister Mary Diane taught at Blessed Mother School, Owensboro (1954-57); St. Thomas More School, Paducah, Ky., (1957-58); Seven Holy Founders School, Affton, Mo., (1958-63) and St. Bernard High School, Clementsville, Ky., (1963-64). She started the art department at Owensboro Catholic High School (1964-67), and she taught art at Mount Saint Joseph Academy, Maple Mount (1967-71). From 1967 until her retirement in 2018, she was an art professor at Brescia College/University and chaired its Division of Fine Arts. She also served as Brescia’s area coordinator of art (1967-1986). In 2016, the Administration building at Brescia was renamed in her honor, Bartholomy-Taylor Hall.
Her art has been featured in exhibits at Brescia, and one of her many creations is a stained-glass window in the Eucharistic chapel at Precious Blood Parish in Owensboro.
Survivors include the members of her religious community; siblings Catherine Clements of Springfield, Ky., Judy Thompson of Loretto, Ky., Eleanor Rapier and Thomas B. Taylor, both of Bardstown, Ky.; nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents and her siblings Francis Richard Taylor, William Chester Taylor Jr., Joseph Edward Taylor, Margaret Mary Boone, Martha Violet Smith and Mary Caroline Taylor.
Visitation begins at 4 p.m. Thursday at the Mount Saint Joseph Motherhouse Chapel, with a vigil service at 6:30 p.m. The funeral Mass will be at 10:30 a.m. Friday at Mount Saint Joseph. The public may attend, but masks are required unless proof of vaccination is provided. Both services will be live streamed. Glenn Funeral Home and Crematory, Owensboro, is handling arrangements.
Donations in memory of Sister Mary Diane may be made to the Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph, 8001 Cummings Road, Maple Mount, KY 42356.
Remembrance of Sister Mary Diane Taylor
July 1, 2021
Sister Amelia Stenger, OSU, Congregational Leader
Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “Love of beauty is taste. The creation of beauty is art.” Sister Mary Diane created much beauty all during her life. On Monday, June 28 in the middle of the afternoon, Mary Diane was welcomed to heaven by God, the Artist who created her. She was welcomed by her family members and all the Ursulines who have gone before her. She now shares her beauty with the saints.
George Ann Taylor, the seventh of eleven children, was born to Diana Thompson Taylor and William Chester Taylor on October 19, 1932, at Fredericktown, Kentucky. Her dad had a favorite aunt named Georgia, and so he named her George Ann. She said that her feelings about her baptismal name vacillated between resentment that she had a “male” name and pride that she was the only one of the eleven children named by her dad.
She had four brothers and six sisters. These include Francis, Mary Catherine, William, Eleanor, Joseph, Margaret, Martha, Thomas, Mary Caroline, and Judith. We offer Catherine, Eleanor, Thomas, and Judy our sympathy and prayers along with all her nieces and nephews. We welcome her friends, associates and former students from Brescia University who have come to pray with us. She served many years at Brescia and touched many people’s lives there.
George Ann was baptized on October 27, 1932, at Holy Trinity Church, Fredericktown, KY. She was confirmed on May 7, 1942, at Holy Trinity Church in Fredericktown, KY by Archbishop John A. Floersh.
Although she attended public school from first to twelfth grade, the only difference that she was aware of for most of those years was the fact that she had religion classes in the afternoon after the regular school day. She was taught by Mount Saint Joseph Ursulines who taught in the public schools at that time. Her life revolved around the family, church, and school. She said that one of her favorite memories of home, when she was growing up, was harmonizing with her sisters during the evening hours with her dad accompanying them on his violin.
Her life as an artist began early. When she was in the first grade, Sister Imelda had her draw something for the school paper, Valley Echoes. She chose to do a family portrait, including their dog, Old Ned. Sister was very impressed.
Becoming an Ursuline Sister of Mount Saint Joseph came as no surprise to her family since she had been taught by the Ursuline Sisters all during her life in school. She said, “I don’t remember any moment when my calling to a religious life came. It always seemed to be what I wanted to do. I never waivered on it, but I didn’t decide on the Ursulines until my senior year in high school.”
The women who directed the choir in the church and their husbands would always take a school bus to the Mount to get the teachers to bring them back to “The Burg” which is what Fredericktown was called, for the start of the new school year. They would let anybody in the choir travel along for the experience and George Ann went several times. She said, “As a teenager, I had known for years that I would enter a convent somewhere. The Carmelites appealed to me, but my knowledge of their lives was, at best, superficial. During my years at Fredericktown High School, I had many opportunities to observe my teachers at prayer, work, and play. I was impressed by their fidelity, simplicity, and professionalism…I observed these Ursuline Sisters as they gathered in a cold church for prayer with only a coal stove for warmth. I noticed how kind they were to us their students… I experienced firsthand their high level of professionalism in their teaching….By the example of their lives, these beautiful women invited me, compelled me to join them.”
After graduating from Fredericktown High School, George Ann began her postulancy at Mount Saint Joseph on September 7, 1951. She entered the community with fifteen other young women. Many have gone to heaven before her. Sister Eva Marie Boone, Sister Mary Ruth Gehres and Sister Michael Ann Monaghan are her remaining classmates and were at her bedside when she died. We offer you our thoughts and prayers as you say goodbye to your friend and classmate.
One year after beginning her postulancy at Mount Saint Joseph, George Ann began her novitiate year and received the name Sister Mary Diane. In the second year of her novitiate, she began taking college courses at the Mount, taught by teachers from Brescia College. Her “all-Ursuline education” continued as the faculty at Brescia at the time was exclusively Ursuline Sisters. She continued going to school during the summers and eventually got a Bachelor of Arts degree in Art from Brescia College, now University, in 1963, a Master’s degree in Art from the University of Notre Dame in 1967 and did further study in Art at Murry State University in 1969.
Sister Mary Diane’s teaching career began in 1954 at Blessed Mother grade school in Owensboro where she taught all subjects to second graders. She said her smallest class was 54 students and her biggest was 78. The group of 78 was the cutest group of kids she said she ever taught. She went on to say that she taught some of those 78 youths a few years later at Owensboro Catholic High School and some in later years in her art class at Brescia University.
After three years at Blessed Mother, she moved to Paducah. She was sent to Saint Thomas More because they were expecting a big group of third graders there. She said the principal took compassion on her and came up with an extra teacher and split the big third grade class in half. She didn’t say how many she had but as classes went it was probably between 40 and 50 students.
Sister Mary Diane taught at Paducah for one year before moving on to Seven Holy Founders School in Afton, Missouri to again teach third grade. Near the end of her first year there, she replaced a sixth-grade teacher who died. The next year she moved up to teaching seventh grade and taught large seventh grade classes for the next four years. One of her most outstanding memories of teaching took place at Seven Holy Founders. When asked to name one outstanding event from her early teaching days, she said it would have been of two students, Mary Faith and Tom who were in the third grade at the time. These two students were monotones, and one morning she succeeded in teaching both of them to raise and lower their voices by imitating a siren. From that day on they could sing with the rest of the class. The look of surprise and happiness on their faces were such a thrill for her. She said that that one small incident demonstrated for her the value of Ursuline educational ministry and ingenuity.
Her next move was to the high school level for the first time in her teaching career. She taught all classes to freshmen and sophomores at Saint Bernard High School in Clementsville in Casey County, Kentucky. It was a small school, but she enjoyed it.
She returned to Owensboro in 1964 to start an art department at Owensboro Catholic High School and three years later she did the same at Mount Saint Joseph Academy. While she was at the Academy, she also started teaching art at Brescia which started her forty-year association with the University.
Sister Mary Diane left the Academy three years later to become chair of Brescia’s fine arts department and the school’s area coordinator of art. She held both positions until 1986. At that time, she became the Chair of the Fine Arts division.
Art department professor David Stratton said, “Sister Mary Diane brings lots of thing to the university and campus environment. Her design and color expertise have been utilized by the university administration and facilities many times over her forty years at Brescia. She is diligent and detail oriented. Her finesse with a project, either in her personal artwork or in managing people, is to adhere to the goal with particular regard to details and how they make the whole better.” Sister Mary Diane spent almost four decades at Brescia, seeing it change from Brescia College to Brescia University. She said one of the biggest changes was when Father Larry Hostetter became president. Until that time, an Ursuline Sister had always been president.
Sister Mary Diane said she had many fond memories of Brescia. She said that she treasured memories of faculty and students that she worked with over her years there. They were relationships that lasted a lifetime for her.
Over the years, she taught art history, printmaking, design, calligraphy, and stained glass. Her preferred medium was cloth. She sewed everything from clothes to banners for churches. Those of us who were here in the 1970’s, remember the Mary Diane habit she designed when we were changing our habits to a more modern style. She looked great in it but most of the rest of us didn’t fare as well.
She loved many artists, but Claude Monet was her favorite artist. He was her very favorite, but she said the most incredible work of art she ever saw was Michelangelo’s DAVID, which she admired on a tour of Venice, Rome, and Florence, Italy.
During her tenure at Brescia, she served on several Diocesan committees including the Diocesan Building Committee and the Diocesan Art and Architecture Committee. While serving on the latter, she acted as an art consultant for many churches in the diocese. She also enjoyed creating banners for various liturgical celebrations over the past decades. You will see her touch in many of our rooms here at the Motherhouse. Her photos in the hallways of the Villa are always inspirational. She also had pieces displayed in the Owensboro Museum of Art.
In an article in the Western Kentucky Catholic, she commented about her years of teaching. She said, “Throughout my years of teaching, I have worked with so many wonderful people—students, faculty, staff, parents—and I am deeply grateful for the gifts of friendship formed through this ministry. I have been so blessed by the people who have touched my life.”
And Mary Diane, we have been touched by your life. You shared your gifts graciously and you gave of yourself each time you produced a beautiful piece of art. We will forever be grateful for the beauty you have brought to us. May you rest in peace in the hands of the most wonderful artist of all, our gracious God.