South American Missions

In the 1960s, religious communities in North America began to send sisters to South America missions. The Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph responded to the call of Pope John XXIII to serve Latin America. Their first South American missions were San Ignacio School, Santiago, Chile, and St. Thomas School, Caracas, Venezuela. The following is an article taken from the Messenger-Inquirer on December 23, 1965.

From left are Sister Mary Nivita and SIster Susan Mary, who will go to Venezuela; Mother Joseph Marian is in center; then Sisters Louis Marie and Mary Xavier, who will teach in Chile. At the time of this photo, another member, Sister Mary Gerard, flew to Lima, Peru, on December 10, after completing training at Ponce, Puerto Rico. She soon began teaching in Chile.

Teaching Sisters Accept South American Challenge
Messenger Inquirer, December 23, 1965

The challenge has been answered and members of the Ursuline Community at Mount St. Joseph Convent left Sunday to undertake mission work in Santiago, Chile.

Sister Louise Marie [Luisa Bickett] and Sister Mary Gerard [Thomas] will begin their teaching at San Ignatius School in March, the beginning of the school year in Chile. They will attend summer school classes at Catholic University of Santiago. Later in 1966, they will be joined by Sister Mary Xavier [Trujillo]. Two other religious teachers, Sister Mary Nivita [Riley] and Sister Susan Mary [Mudd], will begin mission teaching at St. Thomas More in Caracas, Venezuela, early next year.

Blessing of the mission cross was one highlight of the departure ceremonies conducted Sunday evening at the Convent Chapel at Maple Mount.

The Most Rev. Henry J. Soenneker, Bishop of the Diocese of Owensboro, said Benediction at 7 p.m. at the convent. This was among his first appearances since returning from Rome last in the week.

Sisters Louis Marie Bickett and Gerard Thomas arriving in Santiago, Chile.

Members of the Order of St. Ursula at the Motherhouse in Daviess County are among the first community of teaching sisters to heed the request of the late Pope John XXIII. He asked each American community to send 10 per cent of the 1960 community to Latin America by 1970. Last spring, Mother Joseph Marian [Logsdon] laid the groundwork for her community’s fulfillment of the Holy Father’s desire before his death.

The superior at Maple Mount spent six weeks in Latin America during March and April observing elementary education needs in several countries, including Chile and Venezuela. This memorable trip also carried with it apprehension for the safety of Mother Joseph Marian who was journeying during the time of the severe earthquake that shook Chile in late March.

Upon her return in mid-April, Mother Joseph Marian began the evaluation of notes and observations. Teaching sites were established and then began the task of selecting instructors from those interested and qualified members of the community.

Two of the nuns, Sister Mary Gerard and Sister Mary Nivita, were sent to Puerto Rico for special traning. Both taught previously in Louisville parochial schools. Sister Susan Mary and Sister Mary Xavier now hold teaching assignments in Louisville which they will leave to enter mission work.

Sister Louis Marie [Luisa] Bickett at Colegeo San Ignacio, Santiago, Chile, circa 1970.

Children at St. Elizabeth’s, Curdsville, bade farewell to Sister Louis Marie last week, since she is among the first to journey south.

Donning the grey habits of religious teachers stationed in southern climates, the Ursuline prepared for their new duty by attending the service planning for them yesterday.

Theme for the 1965 Loyalty Day observance at Mount Saint Joseph was South America. Entertainment and a raffle were highlights of the event organized by the Juniorate Sisters. Proceeds for the program totaled almost $2,600, which will be used to aid the Ursuline Missions.


The Ursuline Sisters left St. Thomas More in 1968 and left the San Ignacio School in 1974.