Following her retirement as Brescia president, Sister Ruth spent an eight-month sabbatical at Saint Meinrad in Spencer County, Indiana. Then she was hired by the Saint Meinrad College, teaching English, doing liturgy and some spiritual direction. “That was a wonderful time,” Sister Ruth fondly recalls. “I really loved Saint Meinrad. I loved the Benedictines. I loved the liturgy. It was a great two years.” During this time, she was living in Ferdinand and traveling regularly to Evansville to care for her father, who died in 1997.
When the college closed after two years, Sister Ruth was looking for a job. She saw an ad in the weekly Ferdinand News. The Benedictine Sisters, just up the hill, were looking for an associate in communications. She got the job and spent two years in communications work for the Ferdinand Benedictines.
“On my way to a third year at Ferdinand, learned that the new mission advancement office at Mount Saint Joseph was to have a communications component. “I knew that was what I’d been waiting for, what I really wanted to do. I needed to do it for my community. In September of 2000 I was named director of communications for the new mission advancement department.”
In 2002, in order to concentrate on the creation of the new Ursulines Alive magazine of which she was the editor, Sister Ruth was named associate director of communications. She leaves that position at the end of July to begin preparations for her new ministry.
Sister Michele praises Sister Ruth’s teaching, administrative and writing skills and predicts good, fun things will happen in Chile. “I’ve known Ruth since we were both fledging college teachers at Brescia (though I was less ‘fledged’ than she was in 1971),” she says. “I know from those days that she is an excellent teacher, with special strengths in teaching adults and students who need special help. Besides ‘shining’ as a faculty member, she also had a great deal of administrative experience as chair of the humanities division, as director of the college alumni association and as president of the college. And, of course, any reader of Ursulines Alive has benefited from her exceptional writing and verbal organizational skills.”
Sister Michele looked ahead and predicted, “But it’s probably her linguistic ability that will really make her a star in her new work in Chile. She has studied several languages — French, Spanish, Italian, and German — and approaches the study of any language with real joy and great enthusiasm. Ruth is great fun, has a delightful whimsical sense of humor, loves people and new places, so I expect that she will love Chile and will be loved in turn. And I know she’ll have fun!”
Sister Suzanne Sims, Sister Ruth’s supervisor the last seven years as director of mission advancement ministry, says, “Sister Ruth’s study of languages (especially English!), her knowledge and experience of the software applications, and her extensive background in the Ursuline tradition and way of life, all have contributed to her excellence in our ministry together these last seven years. She is one of those Sisters in our community who has a clear and quick knowledge of the past, a keen understanding of the present members and partnerships of the Ursuline Sisters, and a vision for the mission of the community in the future. She will be living into that future as she immerses herself into the Spanish language and the culture of Chillán, Chile, this next year.”
Sister Suzanne calls Sister Ruth one of those persons who simply “cannot be replaced.” She says, “When we discuss who might take Sister Ruth’s role after she goes south, we know that she cannot be replaced. Her unique gifts and talents shared so generously these years will certainly be missed. She has promised to be our ‘electronic eyes’ if we need something proofread quickly! We wish her many blessings on her new ministry at Casa Ursulina.”
Longtime friend Ruth Bittel says she will also miss Sister Ruth, but plans to keep in touch regularly. “As she moves to Chile I will miss her so,” she says. “But we will keep in touch by email. Oh what a treasure trove of talent they are getting with Sister Ruth and Sister Mimi combined!”
What are Sister Ruth’s thoughts as she prepares to live among the poor in an area where families struggle daily with poverty and the problems that poverty brings?
“Being an Ursuline has given me a wonderful life,” she says. “When I look back on my life and see how God has loved me through the people in my life I’ve already met, my education and my vocation as an Ursuline Sister, I am amazed at what a full life I’ve lived. I have been gifted with good health, good genes. I don’t think that when you get to be 65 or 70 or more, you stop learning, stop having exciting experiences or stop serving. Retirement to me sounds very boring. My mind is alive. I want to live fully until I die.”