Sister Sharon’s “Hopscotch Tour”

On Jan. 26, Sister Sharon Sullivan, congregational leader of the Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph, departed Maple Mount to visit sisters who minister far to the west and north of Kentucky. Her goal was to fulfill the wish of Saint Angela Merici, expressed in her Fifth Counsel: “Please go often, as you have time and opportunity, especially on feast days, and visit your dear daughters and sisters. …greet them; see how they are, comfort them; encourage them to stand firm in the life begun.”

Her bold schedule was to drive to Belleville, Ill., to have lunch with Sisters Dorothy Helbling, Nancy Liddy and Marilyn Mueth. From there she would travel two hours north to visit with Sister Mary Ellen Backes (and Associate Karen Siciliano) in Springfield, Ill., then the following day to Lindstrom, Minn., to see Sister Evelyn Latham, who re-entered the community later in life and lives with her daughter and her family.

Next was a stop in Maryville, Mo., where Sister Betsy Moyer ministers in health care, followed by a trip to Shawnee Mission, Kan., where four sisters minister – Sisters Martina Rockers, Dee Long, Jane Falke, and Angela Fitzpatrick. Next would be a quick trip to Paola, Kan., and a visit with Sisters Kathleen Condry and Helen Smith, and then on to Emporia, Kan., where Sister Pat Lynch ministers on a college campus.

Stops in Richmond and Lawrence, Kan., were next, to visit with Sisters Mildred Katzer and Marcella Schrant, before the scheduled departure on Feb. 1 for New Mexico. Sister Clara Reid and Sister Sheila Anne Smith minister in Albuquerque, Sister Sara Marie Gomez in Aztec. On Feb. 4, Sister Sharon planned to complete her ambitious journey and start heading back to Maple Mount.

However, to paraphrase John Steinbeck, “The best laid plans of mice and (women) oft go awry.” The snow storm that swept across much of the country delayed Sister Sharon’s departure time on Jan. 26, and ultimately scuttled any hope of making it to New Mexico. But true to Saint Angela’s vigilance as a pilgrim, and Sister Sharon’s background with the Girl Scouts, she ventured on.

The following is her collection of journal entries from her trip, and some photos along the way:

(Each star correlates to a stop Sister Sharon made on her tour. Refer to the map above for the exact location.)

From Wednesday, Jan. 26th through Friday, Feb. 4th, I traveled to visit our Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph in their far-flung missions. I wanted to share the experiences and feelings of that “Hopscotch Tour,” but how could I keep it from being too much? “Ah,” I thought, “tweets!” A tweet would limit me to 142 characters for each thought. So, even though I do not have a Twitter account, the following are my “hopscotch tweets;” please enjoy.

Sister Sharon points out her travel destinations on the map posted outside her office door.

Wed, Jan 26, anointing today, eager to go. Six inches of snow, need the morning melt to get away. Across Knob Lick Creek; our hawk escorted me.

Too late to stop for Belleville lunch; Springfield bound. Illinois prairie, white skies, armadas of geese. Snow all around, driving lanes clear.

Dusk comes, Springfield ahead.
Capitol dome, suffused with Ursuline history & spirit. Sr. Mary Ellen’s open door, welcome light and Karen S, too.

Talk, share, hugs, good meals. Questions and ideas, offered and heard, St. Angela’s spirit. “Visit your daughters” and delight in the sharing.

Sister Sharon visits with Sister Mary Ellen Backes at her home in Springfield, Ill. Sister Mary Ellen is the pastoral assistant at St. Joseph Parish.

Thur, Jan 27, Sr. Mary Ellen up early; Opening St. Joseph’s with welcoming smile. Mass in the morning, St. Angela celebrated with cheer.

Baked eggs for breakfast, Monsie joins us (gentle, gregarious pug) And Father (oh, no, I forgot his name) comes too. More talk and time to go.

Leave Springfield w/blessings. Question for SME: Any harness racing in Springfield? Saw beautiful trotter & sulky on snow-covered practice field.

Heading to the snow fields; ribbons & ribbons of geese. Trackless snow & frozen lakes. Ice fisherpersons and white of winter in the North Woods.

Reach Lindstrom, Minn., in the dark. Wrong entrance to winding road; but not lost. Neighbors shoveling snow guide me “home” with Southern hospitality

Sister Evelyn and family & Prince the dog. Give warm greetings all around. Introductions, stories, curiosity-driven grandchildren questions, fun.

Rylan, blanket-covered preschooler & grandma’s boy. Karli in kindergarten; Larissa, grade three. Dad Jer helps with snow fort & tunnel after work.

Fri, Jan 28, St. Angela lives in the house at Lindstrom. Addiction counseling & massage therapy. Mother & daughter Jackie living lives of service.

Heading south now, shrouded in white snow fog. Down through Minnesota – Wow! Are those trucks parked on the lakes? Across Iowa. Hello Missouri.