In Remembrance of Sister Mary Pauletta McCarty, OSU
April 9, 2018
Sr. Pat Lynch, Assistant Congregational Leader
Helen Marie McCarty was born on July 17, 1921, the third of eight children born to Ignatius Paul McCarty and Nettie Rose Mahoney McCarty in Daviess County, Kentucky. In her memoirs, she wrote: “all eight of us were born in the same house, in the same room, in the same bed, delivered by the same doctor; what a record!”
Sr. Pauletta’s father was born in St. Joseph, KY in 1885; her mother was born in Howardstown, KY in 1896. Her parents were of Irish descent. Of the 5 boys and 3 girls born into the family, 3 boys and 1 girl have gone to heaven to join their parents. We offer our sympathy and prayers to her brothers, Joe and Frank, and to her sister, Rose Mary, as well as all the nephews, nieces, cousins, double cousins, and greats. We are grateful to all of you who have come this evening to share in this celebration of her life.
Helen Marie was baptized one week after she was born, on July 24, 1921 in St. Elizabeth Church in Curdsville, KY and 12 years later she was confirmed in the same church. She describes her home life as: “daily prayers, Sunday Mass and the sacraments were very much a part of our life.”
She attended elementary school at St. Elizabeth in Curdsville, KY. For secondary school, she went to Mercy Academy in Louisville, KY for 2 years. But she was homesick and when her sister and new husband came to Louisville for their honeymoon, she informed them that she was returning home with them. By that time, students at Catholic schools were allowed to ride the public-school buses, so she went to Mount St. Joseph Academy for her last 2 years of high school. She attended Brescia College, Western Kentucky University and a summer session at Nazareth College in Louisville. She wrote: “It took 25 years of summer sessions to complete requirements for a BA in History and Elementary Education. The MA from Western KY was achieved through Extension Classes in Owensboro and two summer sessions on Western Campus.”
Helen Marie entered religious life on February 1, 1941 with a sizeable group of young women, however she was the only surviving member of that class. She was received into the Novitiate on August 14, 1941, being given the name Sr. Mary Pauletta (which was apparently suggested by a grandmother, combining her father’s name, Paul, with her mother’s name Nettie.) She made her First Profession of Vows on August 15,1943 and was immediately sent to teach at St. Catherine’s School in New Haven. She professed her Final Vows on August 15, 1946.
Sr. Pauletta was proud of all of her family members, and felt she was in good company with those who were in the priesthood or religious life. She noted that she has: 3 priests who are first cousins, 2 priests who are first cousins once removed, 1 priest who is a great-nephew, 2 maternal aunts who were religious sisters and one paternal aunt who was a Poor Clare Sister. On her application to enter the Ursuline community, she wrote (as many applicants did at that time) that her motive in entering the convent was: “to serve God better and save my own soul and help save souls of others.”
Sr. Pauletta taught several different age groups from 1st to 8th grade. She said that her favorite class to teach was the 6th grade. She was a teacher and principal at different schools for 36 years and had 16 different assignments in Kentucky, Missouri and Nebraska. In one school she had 60 students in one “temporary” classroom—30 boys and 30 girls. She said she sat on a swivel chair because she couldn’t get through the aisles! In her folders, there are lists and lists of students that she taught. Each page has the year and the names of all the students in each school. She wrote: “It’s a happy thought to think about how many lives have touched mine.”
After retiring from teaching, she worked in parish ministry, visiting the sick in hospitals and nursing homes, and taking communion to those who were homebound; she also assisted in food pantries, and tutored children and adults in need. She was Assistant Local Superior and Director of Transportation at the Mount for 5 years. She described the transportation job as fairly simple because there were only 5 cars at the Mount in those days. She said she made doctor appointments and took the Sisters shopping. She provided pastoral and personal care (including reflexology) to the Sisters at the Mount and she was the Sacristan from 1992-1998. After retiring from those jobs, she kept the daily annals for 5 years from 2005-10. This position required her to pay attention to what was going on in daily life and write down the significant events of the day. She wrote: “That was kind of fun. I got to be nosy without feeling guilty!”
One of her fondest memories was going with the Friendship Force to England, Scotland and Wales in July 1980. She had the distinction of celebrating her birthday that year on two continents. She received cards from her students wishing her safe travels, as well as birthday cards, and among them, there was a special birthday card from her traveling companions: Sisters Mary Edgar, Rose Jean, Marie Michael and Emma Cecilia!
Among other discoveries I found, Sr. Pauletta was a card-carrying member of the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels, joining a host of other distinguished Kentucky Colonels. Another distinction which not many people have is that she had 6 pacemakers implanted over the course of years since 1973.
When she was 84 years old, she described her ministry as “taking the Senior Sisters to the nutrition site in Curdsville every week.” They played cards and made quilts with the Senior Citizens in the area because Sr. Pauletta thought it was important for the Sisters to mingle. Sr. Pauletta also took roses to the sisters in the Villa when they were in bloom.
One bit of wisdom that she kept in her file was this quote, probably from a retreat she made: “What comes with wisdom and age is acceptance of our imperfections. We see that we develop at every stage of life. Christ was the life of God dwelling in human flesh.”
Among her favorite devotions was the chaplet of Divine Mercy, which she often prayed. This year she got to pray it in heaven, as we just celebrated this feast yesterday.
In her annals for the year 2014, she described her ministry as “prayer and leisure. Just living as joyfully as I can at this time of life—I’ll be 93 this year. Let’s pray for each other.” She was active in the Powerhouse of Prayer until her dying breath. We are grateful to our Staff in the Villa for their kind care for her, and we are happy that some of her family came to be with her as she passed to eternal life.
On a form found in her file, she typed some information about her life. After she retired in 1992, she wrote “I thank God for the many years I was able to instruct children.” And her closing prayer was simple: “My Jesus, I am coming to You just as I am. My Jesus, make a saint of me. Take Lord, receive all I am; have mercy on me. Thanks for all You have done for me.”
In an interview with Dan Heckel in November of 2012, Sr. 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.”
And now, Sr. Pauletta, you know the fullness of that love. May you rest in peace.