In Remembrance of Sister Marian Powers
By Sister Amelia Stenger
November 29, 2017
In the Votive Prayer for the Dead that we say when a Sister dies, there is a quote that tells us so much about Sister Marian. It is by Roman Union Ursuline Superior, Mother Joseph Dallmer. It says, “I have come from God and go back to God. I take back only that which I have done for God’s glory.” Sister Marian has gone back to God with a life well spent for her community and her family. On November 27, 2017, at 7:10 p.m. God called her back with all the good things she had done for Sisters, students, parishioners, family and friends. She served the community and the church for 65 years.
Marian Alice Rose Powers was born on February 6, 1933 to Everett and Eva Mae Elder Powers. She was one of ten children in the Powers family. They were a family of five boys and five girls, Verrill, Kenneth, Raphael, Fr. Benjamin, Sister Marian, Randolph, Sr. Ann Roberta, Eulaine, Sister Rose Jean and Gussie. Sister Rose Jean, we offer you our sympathy and prayers as you say goodbye to your sister. We offer our sympathy and prayers to all of you who have come to celebrate the life of Sister Marian.
She was baptized at St. Rose in Cloverport, KY on April 1, 1933 and confirmed at St. Rose in Cloverport on October 9, 1941 by Bishop Francis R. Cotton. Sister Marian’s mother, Eva Mae, was a homemaker for her ten children and her father, Everett, was a carpenter. For many years, he traveled from the family home in Cloverport to Fort Knox to work on construction of the Army base. The children didn’t get to see their father much in those days. When he was home, Sister Marian said she would sit on his lap and he would help her with her homework.
The family moved when she was six to a house located on the banks of the Ohio River. They had a beautiful view of the river and the children often played on the river bank.
The boys in her family attended the public high school in Cloverport but Sister Marian’s parents wanted the girls to attend private school. Ann Roberta went to St. Vincent’s Academy in Waverly, KY, which was run by the Sisters of Charity, but Marian got a scholarship to attend Mount Saint Joseph Academy as did Rose Jean and Gussie.
Four of the Powers children followed a religious vocation. Sister Marian’s oldest sister, Ann Roberta entered the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth and served most of her life in India. Sister Rose Jean and Sister Marian entered the Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph and her brother, Father Ben, became a priest in the Diocese of Owensboro.
The Powers family suffered several tragedies which caused them much sorrow. The youngest boy, Randy, drowned at age 21, and Fr. Ben died at 41 in a car accident just three years after he was ordained a priest.
The Ursuline Sisters taught in Cloverport at St. Rose of Lima Catholic School. Sister Mary Cornelius Smith taught her in the sixth through eighth grades and was instrumental in getting her a scholarship to the Academy.
Sister Marian loved her years at the Academy. In telling her story, she said, “Being a boarder, we could sneak around and do things. We weren’t allowed to leave campus, but we wanted to go to the store in St. Joseph that had homemade ice cream. We asked Sister Marguerite if we could go to Joetown for ice cream. She said, ‘You know I can’t give you permission to do that. But if I don’t see you, nothing can be done about it.’ Then she turned her back and we took off.”
Sister Marian had to work to pay the rest of her tuition and one job she had was in the library with Sister Joseph Marie Williams. Sister Marian said, “She had to read all the new books to make sure there was nothing objectionable for us. She let me read the new books, and I’d tell her if they were OK or not.”
During her junior year, Sister Marian decided she wanted to join the Ursulines. She entered in the fall of 1951, a few months after graduating from the Academy. Of the 18 who took the habit the following year, she still has five members of her class—Sisters Ruth Gehres, Eva Boone, Helen Leo Ebelhar, Michael Ann Monaghan and Mary Diane Taylor. Sister Mary Patrick McDonaugh joined the group when the Belleville Ursulines joined our community.
“I never looked back, I knew this is what I wanted,” Sister Marian said.
Sister Marian received her bachelor’s degree in History from Brescia University in 1964. She received her Master’s degree from Xavier University in 1979. She also received a Professional Certificate for School Administration and Supervision, an Endorsement for Elementary School Principal for grades K-8 and a Standard Elementary Teaching Certificate for Grades 1-8. Sister received these degrees while she was teaching.
She began her teaching ministry in 1954 just a few miles from the Mount at St. Martin School, Rome, KY. She said she felt prepared, but she was scared to death. She taught fifth and sixth grades.
In 1957, she went to Sr. Francis Xavier School in Raywick, KY, a public school, for a year. The school and the Sister’s house burned prior to her arrival, so the Sisters taught in various buildings. Sister Marian taught in a school once used for African-American students during the segregation days. There was a pot-bellied stove and no running water.
She moved to St. Raphael School not far from the Mount, where she stayed until 1962. She taught about 20 students in grades 1 to 4, all in the same room. “We had copperhead snakes in the house,” she said. “We cleared everything off the bed and checked under it every night before we went to sleep.”
In 1962, Sister Marian transferred to St. Edward School in Jeffersontown, KY near Louisville where she taught eighth grade. One year she had 54 students and 35 of them were boys. She said they must have been good or she couldn’t have done it.
From 1965 to 1987, she held positions as teacher, principal or both at schools in Flaherty, KY, Vine Grove, KY, Leitchfield, KY, Louisville, KY, Mayfield, KY and Sorgho, Ky.
In 1987, Fr. Pete Hughes asked her to do pastoral ministry at St. Mary of the Woods in McQuady, KY and at her home parish of St. Rose of Lima in Cloverport. She said she loved the pastoral work. She handled CCD and RCIA at both parishes. She loved working with the adults, discussing religion and seeing the adults get excited about Jesus and the church.
Sister Marian lived alone in McQuady and the people there said they’d feel better if she had a dog in the house for protection, so they gave her a puppy. Since she was an inside dog, Sister Marian named her Inny. She was her companion for years.
In 1991, Fr. Tony Stevenson who was the pastor at St. Anthony Parish in nearby Axtel, KY asked her to become a pastoral minister at the parish of St. Anthony where she served for three years.
In 1994, Sister Mary Matthias, the superior at the time, asked her to become the local coordinator for the Motherhouse. She told Sister Mary Matthias she had a dog and she wouldn’t feel right about turning her over to a new owner. She had a meeting with the Sisters at the Motherhouse and told them of her desire to bring her dog along and so Inny became an Ursuline adoptee. While Inny was here she worked for her keep. She would go for walks with Sister Marian and attack moles as they crawled under the ground. One year, Inny killed 100 moles and Sister Marian put a little hat on her and she paraded around the dining room, so everyone could clap. After she died at the age of 14, the moles started to multiply again.
In 1999, Sister Marian returned to pastoral ministry at St. Rose of Lima parish in Cloverport and also worked at Holy Guardian Angels Parish in Irvington, which was 30 miles away. When she felt that she could no longer drive at night, she continued her work at Cloverport, taking Communion to the sick and visiting shut-ins.
In 2005, she returned to the Mount and began her ministry at the post office.
Sister Rose Jean said she was adventurous and she’d tackle anything. She was offered the opportunity to visit her sister in India and took it. She was willing to go to new places and serve as the community called her.
Sister Marian, we know that your family, your Ursuline sisters and Inny were there to meet you when you arrived. May you rest in peace in God’s Hands.