Sister Monica Seaton, OSU: Sharing a life of laughter and joy

 Update:

Sister Monica Seaton completed her ministry at Daviess County High School in 2009. She served as a teacher in Memphis, Tenn., from 2012-16, and since August 2016, serves as director of vocation ministry for the Ursuline Sisters.


 

Sister Monica elicits a smile from one of the students in her 10th-grade biology class at Daviess County High School.

When Monica Seaton entered the postulancy with the Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph on July 16, 2000, she turned down a friend’s offer to help her move. “I’m only staying two weeks,” she said.

She figured that would be long enough to satisfy her urge to pursue religious life. But on June 28, almost nine years later, Sister Monica Seaton will make her final vows.

“I’m happy,” she said. “It’s what Jesus wants me to do.”

Sister Monica’s ministry may be teaching special education students at a public high school in Owensboro, Ky., but it’s clear after spending a few moments with her that her full-time job is being joyful.

“A big part of my life is laughter and humor,” Sister Monica said, and those who know her well certainly agree.

“She likes to be a joyful person,” said Sister Jacinta Powers. “It flows through her and flows out.”

Sister Michele Intravia seems to be her sister in shenanigans. “When we are together we have a great deal to share and laugh about,” Sister Michele said. “We love to laugh — it makes people wonder what we are up to.”

Amid all the laughter, Sister Monica is very serious about the work she does with young people, and about her vows.

“Monica is a very hard worker and she wants her students to feel a part of the everyday world and not feel different,” Sister Michele said.“She is a very compassionate person and she responds in a very gentle way.”

Sister Jacinta sums up Sister Monica’s faith in two sentences. “She is willing and courageous enough to hear the voice of God and follow,” she said. “It takes courage do to that.”

“Courage” isn’t a word that Sister Monica would have used in describing herself before she became a sister.

“Ask anyone who knew me 10 years ago, I was scared of my shadow,” Sister Monica said. “I can see a huge growth process from where I started. I know more about me now.”

Sister Ann McGrew, who as director of the temporary professed has walked with Sister Monica during her journey the past five years, said she sees the growth as well.

Sister Monica laughs as Sister Jacinta Powers (far left) talks to the 7th and 8th grade faith formation class at St. Stephen Cathedral about her ministry in Jamaica.

“She’s gained a lot of confidence,” Sister Ann said. “She used to panic at the beginning when she was asked to do something out of her comfort zone. Now, she’s still nervous, but she moves right on in.”

Rolling on the river

Sister Monica grew up in downtown Owensboro, a block from the Ohio River, so as a child, hanging out with neighborhood kids and racing to watch the boats come by was a form of entertainment.

The daughter of Yvonne and Joseph Seaton, she has belonged to only one parish in her life, just like her mother – St. Stephen Cathedral. Her grandparents lived near the church and were very involved, and her mother has never considered going elsewhere.

The youngest of six children, Sister Monica sees her siblings often in Owensboro, especially her three sisters. She’s the youngest by seven years, perhaps early training for being the youngest member of her religious community.