Sister Mary Lois Speaks, OSU: Aug. 18, 1944 to May 6, 2017

Sister Mary Lois Speaks, 72, an Ursuline Sister of Mount Saint Joseph, died May 6, 2017, in her 54th year as an Ursuline Sister. She was a native of Henderson, Ky.

Sister Mary Lois Speaks, OSU

Sister Mary Lois greeted everyone with a wide smile, and was always available with a listening heart. She loved nature and teaching, fought for social justice issues and helped organize the Ursuline Associates as their second director from 1991-96.

Sister Mary Lois was a teacher in Kentucky at St. Ignatius School, Louisville (1966), St. Alphonsus School, St. Joseph (1966-67) and Blessed Mother School, Owensboro (1967). She also taught at St. John School, Plattsmouth, Neb. (1968-70). She was principal at Sacred Heart School, Russellville, Ky., (1970-72) and St. Leonard School, Louisville (1976-79). She was parish coordinator at St. Pius X Parish, Owensboro, (1972-76) and at St. Columba Parish, Louisville (1979-82).

She served as the charismatic renewal coordinator for the Archdiocese of Louisville (1982-89), then in 1991 became director of the Ursuline Associates, beginning an advisory board and a newsletter, both of which continue today. In 1997 she moved to Marion County, Ky., where she served briefly at the Marion County Adjustment Center and then for 14 years at Marion County High School. She retired in 2011, but remained in Marion County offering spiritual direction to those in need until 2017. Sister Mary Lois also served a term as the Ursuline representative on the UNANIMA International board, a nongovernmental organization that works with the United Nations on issues affecting poor women and children, especially in human trafficking.

Survivors include a sister, Phyllis Speaks of Henderson; three brothers, Don Speaks and William Francis Speaks of Henderson and John Speaks of Owensboro; nieces and nephews and members of her religious community.

Visitation at Mattingly Funeral Home in Loretto, Ky., is 3-8 p.m. EDT on Monday, May 8. Visitation at Maple Mount begins at 4 p.m. CDT Tuesday, May 9, in the Motherhouse Chapel, with a wake service to follow at 6:30. The funeral Mass is at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, May 10. Glenn Funeral Home and Crematory is handling arrangements.

Gifts in honor of Sister Mary Lois can be made to the Ursuline Sisters, 8001 Cummings Road, Maple Mount, KY 42356.


  1. Rita Tanner

    Sr. Mary Lois was such a beautiful person, both inside and out. Always smiling and always had a listening ear. She and Phyllis Troutman were good friends of my brother, Don Thomas, deceased, and I’m sure they always had some good tales to tell. Perhaps there is a Wendy’s in heaven where you two can grab a cup of coffee. You will be missed.

  2. Marcella Caldwell Brady

    A wonderful and inspiring presence of our dear MSJ Ursulines in Marion County. She will be missed.

  3. Sue Timbrook O'Bryan

    Sr. Mary Lois was a beautiful person, Great personality,,, Rest In Peace Sr. Mary Lois. My sympathy goes our to your family.

  4. Brenda Gonzales, SCN

    I am so sorry to just read this. I enjoyed working with Sr. Mary Lois on different committees in Central KY. May she rest in peace.



  6. Linda Borton

    Sr. Mary Lois was my teacher and volleyball coach at St. John’s School. She was young and a new breath of fresh air for us. We had spelling test for some reason beyond my memory, she wanted us to know how to spell the longest word in the dictionary and know the meaning, and the word was antidisestablishmentarianism. She just smiled at us from our reaction to the new spelling word. She was a wonderful teacher by challenging us in our studies. Sr. Mary Lois was a coach for volleyball and she had little knowledge about the sport but learned the game fast and we won a few games. St. John’s School had Friday night skate parties and I remember Sr. Mary Lois skating around the gym next time I saw her she was on the gym floor and her hat came off. To my surprise she had hair, who new smiling. She just smiled and got right back up to skate. Those were great memories.
    The year she was leaving to go back to Kentucky some of the students had a going away party for her. The party turned into me breaking my arm and wrist, calling the rescue squad and going to the hospital. Sr. Mary Lois went to the hospital to be with me until my parents showed up. The next day she was leaving for her trip back to Kentucky and she stop to see me at Saint Joseph Hospital. Her keen eye of observation noticed my finger nails were turning blue and she got the nurse. My cast was too tight and my circulation was compromise until the nurse cut the cast above the elbow. That day Sr. Mary Lois was my angel.
    We kept in touch over the years and when I graduated from high school started to plan a trip to Kentucky. Kim and I went to visit her in Henderson Ky. in 1975 or 76. She wanted us to meet her family because she was so proud of them all. She introduces us to her parents, Raymond Speaks, Catherine Speaks, and her sisters, Rita, Phyllis and younger brother Billy. Behold all of them greeted us with smiles.
    In 1984, I made another trip to Kentucky to visit with Sr. Mary Lois. I stayed at Mount Saint Joseph such beautiful grounds. While, I was there met her Aunt, Sr. Mary Boniface Speaks at the gift shop and I bought a cup and still have it to this day. Sr. Mary Boniface Speaks was a lovely person inside and out. To our next adventure Henderson to see her siblings and mother. While we were there she introduces me to the rest of her family. The Speaks family is very caring and loving. I knew Sr. Mary Lois was caring and loving, now I knew why.
    We had many more years together but the last time I saw her was at her 50th Jubilee of Religious Life Celebration. My husband and I surprised Sister, Phyllis, and Bill when we showed up to her jubilee. She had the biggest smile on her face.
    My sympathy and prayers go out to her family and religious community.
    Rest in Peace, Sister Mary Lois

  7. Pat Donahue Wathen

    Our lives took us in different directions with different demands that prevented close contact; however, I see here we shared Angeline values and mission. In spite of time and distance, I have loved Mary Lois since our Mount classmate days. I treasure her gentle spirit and the memory of that inclusive smile. Thank you, Mary Lois, for your presence in my heart.

Comments are closed