Sister Mary Jude Cecil, OSU: “…is genuinely loved by the students.”

Sisters in Ministry Update:

Sister Mary Jude Cecil retired to the Motherhouse in 2013.

Sophomore Paul Thomasson says Sister Mary Jude changed his study habits and helped him bring his grades up considerably.

Seigneur, écoute ma prière, je lève mon ame vers Toi….

The joyful voices of Sister Mary Jude’s sophomore French students at Saint Mary High School in Paducah flow from room 208 each morning as they sing Seigneur, Écoute Ma Prière (Lord, Listen To My Prayer) in response to their daily petitions.

It isn’t just singing that makes Sister Mary Jude’s French classes special. “She is probably one of the greatest teachers that I have ever had,” says sophomore Kirsten Sturm. “She adds so much to the classroom than just using our books. We sing, we pray, have fun and have wonderful French parties.”

Sister Mary Jude’s French classes have been a fixture in the Saint Mary curriculum since she returned for her second tenure at the school and reinstalled the program in the fall of 1985. She originally taught French at St. Mary from 1970 to 1974. During that time she also served one year as the school’s assistant principal. She presently teaches four levels of French and advanced placement courses for college credit.

Sophomore French class members (l. to r.) Brittney Washam, Sarah Teitloff, Kirsten Sturm, and Aaron Spoden listen as Sister Mary Jude makes a point.

Becoming a teacher was no surprise for Sister Mary Jude, one of nine children born to Daviess County farmer Tony Cecil and his wife, Lucy P. Hayden Cecil, a 1924 graduate of the Mount Saint Joseph Academy. Tony was also a Ford farm machinery salesman.

“I knew in about the sixth or seventh grade that I wanted to be a teacher,” Sister Mary Jude recalls, “I knew I wanted to teach after tutoring some of my brothers and sisters and being taught and inspired by Ursuline sisters. I knew I wanted to teach because I loved to see that light that comes on in the eyes of somebody that you’ve taught something they didn’t know. And because of the sisters’ joy, simplicity and generosity, I wanted to be like them. They were my role models.”

Born in Owensboro — the middle child among the Cecils’ nine children — and raised on the farm near Utica, Sister Mary Cecil attended grades 1-6 at Saint William Grade School at Knottsville and grades 7 and 8 at Saint Joseph Grade School in Owensboro. She attended Saint Joseph High School for two years before transferring to Mount Saint Joseph Academy for her final two years of high school.

Sister Mary Jude discusses a French problem with sophomores Holly Graham (l.) and Kayla Franklin.

Sister Mary Cecil became a postulant in 1950, made temporary vows in 1952, then began her teaching career in September of 1952 at Saint Catherine Grade School at New Haven, teaching fourth, fifth and sixth graders. After three years at New Haven, she moved on to Rosary Chapel School in Paducah for two years teaching fifth through eighth grades, then to Saint Mary School in Nebraska City, Nebraska, as grade school principal and eighth-grade teacher for two years.

She returned to Rosary Chapel for an eight-year tenure as principal, fifth- eighth grade teacher, and cafeteria manager.

After earning her bachelor of arts degree in French from Brescia College in 1967, she began teaching French for the first time at Mount Saint Joseph Academy, where she stayed for three years before beginning her first venture at Saint Mary High School in 1970.