Sister Pauletta’s most memorable year was when she taught at St. Bartholomew in the Louisville suburb of Buechel. She had 60 students, and taught in a temporary classroom. “I had 30 boys and 30 girls,” she said. “I had to have a swivel chair, I couldn’t get between the aisles.”
One of her students she’s most proud of is Sister Ann McGrew, who she taught in the eighth grade at St. Paul School in Leitchfield, Ky. “It made me feel pretty good that one of my students joined the convent,” Sister Pauletta said.
“Sister Pauletta was very interested in the individual student,” said Sister Ann, who is now director of the Mount Saint Joseph Conference and Retreat Center. “She went out of her way to make sure we understood the subject matter. She taught the student more than the subject.”
One of Sister Ann’s fondest memories reflects Sister Pauletta’s kindness. “When I finished the eighth grade, we had a ceremony on Sunday,” Sister Ann said. “My father died on Tuesday. Sister Pauletta wrote me a card expressing her sympathy and assuring me of her prayers. That meant so much to my family. She was such a caring person.”
Sister Pauletta left teaching in 1976 to become assistant local superior and director of transportation at the Motherhouse. “I made doctor appointments for the sisters, and I took them on their shopping trips,” she said. Being transportation director was a little simpler than it is now. “We only had five cars,” she said.
In 1981, she began in parish ministry, first at Precious Blood Parish in Owensboro. She visited shut-ins and people in nursing homes, taking them Communion. “I liked that very much,” she said. In 1986 she spent the next three years at the parish center in Greenville, Ky., with the late Sister Jean Claire Ballard. ”We did everything but preach,” Sister Pauletta said.
Sister George Mary said those years were enriching for Sister Pauletta. “She has a great charism for the sick, comforting them and praying with them.”
Sister Pauletta tutored high school students in Hardinsburg, Ky., from 1989-92, but decided it was time to end her teaching career. From 1992-98, she served as the sacristan at the Motherhouse.
“I feel very much at home in the sacristy,” she said. “I had to light candles recently and some of the sisters said, ‘It sure does look natural to see you in the sacristy.’”
Sister Pauletta retired in 1998, but from 2005-2010, she was the daily annalist for the community, writing down the significant events of the day for the archives, something that has been done for more than 100 years at the Mount. “That was kind of fun,” she said. “I got to be nosy without feeling guilty.”
In her spare time, she enjoys doing word search games. Recently she has been volunteering at nearby West Louisville Elementary School, bagging healthy snacks for some students to take home on the weekend so they will have a nutritious meal.
Sister Pauletta said she feels blessed to be an Ursuline Sister. “It was the best thing for me,” she said. “I feel grateful to the Lord. You knit me together in my mother’s womb, you know all my faults and failures, yet you still love me.”
By Dan Heckel