Update: After 50 years as an art professor at Brescia, Sister Mary Diane retired in 2018. She is now an art resource in Owensboro.
Becoming an Ursuline Sister came as no surprise to Sister Mary Diane Taylor and her family. Since she started first grade in the Fredericktown public school system in Washington County, Kentucky, she had been taught by the Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph. She was taught by Ursulines through eight years of grade school and four years of high school at Fredericktown before beginning her postulancy at Mount Saint Joseph following her graduation from high school.
“I don’t remember any moment when my calling to a religious life came,” says Sister Mary Diane. “It always seemed to be what I wanted to do. I never wavered on it. But I didn’t decide on the Ursulines until my senior year in high school.”
Why the Ursulines? “Because I was more familiar with them than anyone else and I had been to the Mount before,“ she explained. “The women who directed the choir in our church and their husbands would always take a school bus to the Mount to get the teachers to bring them back to The Burg – as Fredericktown is called – for the start of the new school year. They would let anybody in the choir travel along for the experience and I did just that.”
After graduating from Fredericktown High School, familiar with the Ursulines and familiar with Mount Saint Joseph, Sister Mary Diane began her postulancy that fall at the Mount.
Sister Mary Diane was born in Fredericktown, one of 11 children born to William Chester and Diana Thompson Taylor. One of the Taylor children died in childhood, the other ten survive today. Sister Mary Diane is the fifth youngest of the seven girls and three boys in the Taylor Family. For most of his life, William Chester Taylor was a bookkeeper at Hayden Mill and Grain in Springfield.
One year after beginning her postulancy at Mount Saint Joseph, Sister Mary Diane began her novitiate training and in the second year of her novitiate, began taking college courses at the Mount, taught by teachers from Brescia College. Her “all-Ursuline education” continued as the faculty at Brescia at that time was exclusively Ursuline sisters.
Sister Mary Diane’s teaching career began in 1954 at Blessed Mother Grade School in Owensboro where she taught all subjects to second graders. “My smallest class was 54 students,” she recalls, “and my biggest was 78. That group of 78 was the cutest group of kids I’ve ever taught. I still keep in touch with some of them.” 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, Sister Mary Diane moved on to Paducah. “Because I had handled 78 at Blessed Mother, they sent me to Saint Thomas More at Paducah because they were expecting a big group of third graders there,” she recalls. “However, the principal there took compassion on me, came up with an extra teacher and was able to split the big third grade class in half.”
Sister Mary Diane taught at Paducah for one year before moving on to Seven Holy Founders School in Saint Louis to again teach third graders. Near the end of her first year there, she replaced a sixth grade teacher who had died and taught sixth grade the remainder of that school year. The next year she moved up to teaching seventh grade and taught large seventh grade classes for the next four years.
The next year Sister Mary Diane moved up 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 Clemensville in Casey County, Kentucky. “It was a very small school,” Sister Mary Diane says, “but I really enjoyed it. It was a great experience.”
She returned to Owensboro in 1964 to start an art department at Catholic High School.