Finding her place
One regret Sister Mary Lois has is not speaking up enough when she was younger.
“I tried to be who others wanted me to be, instead of who I am,” she said. “I had to relearn some things and forget some things.”
It was a process that took 17 years, until she was 42.
“I was at Gethsemane (Abbey in Nelson County, Ky.) on Ascension Thursday, it was an epiphany moment for me,” she said. “Just hearing a meadowlark and knowing I was free. The insight was as clear as the meadowlark’s voice,” Sister Mary Lois said. “Three of them passed my windshield on my way home, in honor of the trinity.”
One of her passions in recent years is as a board member for UNANIMA International, a nongovernmental group of women religious that helps shape policies that promote the welfare of women and children. The group is focusing on reducing human trafficking.
Sister Mary Lois sees a lot of Angela Merici’s teachings in UNANIMA.
“Angela knew young women needed to be protected and formed,” she said.
Sister Mary Lois traveled to New York in March for a UNANIMA board meeting to further discuss efforts to raise awareness of human trafficking. She will leave the board next year, but would like to rejoin in the future.
Aside from her work at the high school these days, Sister Mary Lois does some spiritual direction and active listening in an office adjacent to Phyllis Troutman’s car wash, Clean As A Whistle.
She plans to retire from the school in two years and would like to do some writing about Angela Merici, and also share with people lessons she’s learned.
“My passion is to speak of the Lord, because I have been so blessed, so spoiled,” she said. “I’d like to show what I’ve experienced, to awaken it in others.”
She’d prefer to stay in Marion County to reach out to those who are bereaving, and to stay close to her friend Phyllis.
Phyllis calls Sister Mary Lois “a jewel” for her kindness and ways.
“She can read you like a book,” Phyllis said. “She’ll tell you who you are.”
The two eat together often, play cards with the elderly or visit those who are sick, Phyllis said. She credits Sister Mary Lois with helping her break from her workaholic ways.
“I tell her I didn’t know there was a sky until she came along,” Phyllis said. “I enjoy life a lot more now. We love to be outside, we’ll just sit in the swing and chat.”
Sister Mary Lois said whatever setbacks she’s had, the joy has outweighed them all.
“When I look back at the crosses I’ve carried, I’m grateful,” she said. “I try to learn from it all.”
By Dan Heckel