After eight years in Louisville, she taught for a year in Glennonville, Mo., then five years in Hawesville, Ky. In 1972, she returned to Louisville to teach fourth grade at St. Denis for the next 12 years.
Her principal at St. Denis the first six years was Sister Mary Matthias Ward. “She made you feel that she trusted you to do what you were supposed to do,” Sister Ruth said. “She was very fair with all the teachers.”
Sister Mary Matthias is now the local community life coordinator at the Motherhouse, and said Sister Ruth was a wonderful support to her as principal. “She would do anything for anybody,” Sister Mary Matthias said.
Sister Mary Matthias meets with Sister Ruth individually 32 weeks of the year for prayer. “She’s very interested in deepening her relationship with the Lord,” Sister Mary Matthias said. “She’ll do the switchboard anytime I ask her. She still has a lot of energy to be of service to others.”
During the summers, the sisters who taught school came home to the Mount and got three weeks of relaxation and retreat, and the other three weeks they worked at the Motherhouse, Sister Ruth said. Her summer job was in pastoral care in the infirmary, and because she did a good job there, she was asked to come to the Mount for that ministry full time in 1984.
“I felt like this was what the community wanted me to do,” Sister Ruth said. Her tasks were similar to what nurse’s aides do now, giving the sisters baths and helping to dress and feed them. “I liked doing it, being able to take care of our sisters. You have to have a little calling to do it, it’s not easy.”
Sister Ruth has lived in Saint Joseph Villa since 2005, and her experience working in pastoral care gives her a unique perspective on today’s staff. “I appreciate the work they do for us,” she said.
After seven years in the infirmary, she returned to teaching at St. Joseph School in San Fidel, N.M. “I had heard so much about New Mexico, I’m glad I got to see what I did,” she said. After two years, she knew it was time to leave there, and she came back to the Mount to be coordinator of the Guest House for three years.
“I enjoyed it, I met a lot of people that way,” she said. “We still had the music camp in the summer and many of them stayed in the Guest House.”
In 1996, she began the ministry she calls her “love and joy,” parish minister at St. Joseph Parish in Leitchfield, Ky. “I visited the sick in the hospital, nursing homes and homebound, and did some sacristan work,” she said. “One of the best things I got to do was take the sacrament of Holy Eucharist to the sick. It was such a great privilege to do.”
The people of the parish were so friendly, Sister Ruth still thinks of them often. “I just love those people,” she said. “I had cancer surgery while I was there. I had to have 35 radiation treatments, and people took turns bringing me to Owensboro (an hour away) for treatment, and then we’d go out to eat. They were wonderful.”
By 2005, Sister Ruth was having such trouble with her balance that she knew it was time to come home to the Mount. Since her return, she takes her turn on the switchboard and up until recently, helped at the nurse’s station in Saint Joseph Villa.
She enjoys the time to pray at the Mount, and she takes advantage of the many activities for the sisters, including exercise time. She spends her free time working on embroidery, cross stitch and straight stitch, and other craft projects.
By Dan Heckel