Stephany Nelson is at home in the classroom

The emotional upheaval in Stephany’s life continued in 2010 when her dad died on Aug. 14 in Florida. “That was my hardest trial, it really rocked my world,” she said.

During Sunday Mass on Feb. 26, 2012, Lange was sitting next to Stephany and noticed she was crying.

“I was just overwhelmed with emotion,” Stephany said. “Why is God choosing me? I was afraid to tell Jan.”

“I knew she had lost her father recently,” Lange said. “After Mass, I asked if she was OK. She said, ‘I need to tell you something. I feel like I’m being called to religious life.’ I was shocked,” Lange said. “She didn’t know what to do. I am good friends with (Ursuline) Sister Suzanne Sims, she was the first person I thought of to call.”

Stephany shows some of the prizes available for those who met their reading goals.

From that call, Sister Suzanne gave Stephany the number for Sister Martha Keller, who was then the director of vocation ministry for the Ursulines Sisters, and her journey began.

That journey became known at St. Joseph during her third year of teaching, Stephany said. “They don’t treat me differently, but they know I have a strength in religion,” she said.

Lange said she’s learned a lot from Stephany through this experience.

“It’s exciting, this doesn’t happen very often,” Lange said. “I think she talks about her journey with the students. We tell the students on Saint Angela Merici’s feast day it is also Ms. Nelson’s feast day.”

Lange has been principal since 2001, but began as a teacher at St. Joseph in 1987. There has not been a sister at the school during her tenure. The Sisters of Charity were the main teachers at St. Joseph, but the last sister to teach there was Ursuline Sister Mary Timothy Bland, who left in 1986.

Stephany smiles as she encourages one of her students as he recited his spelling words.

“It’s inspiring for the students to see her,” said Karen Stringer, a kindergarten teacher. “She’s a good role model and example for the students. We just see priests and seminarians. We were happy for her. You could see she was happy and excited for the future.”

Samantha O’Leary, the other first grade teacher, echoed those thoughts.

“She’s ‘our nun.’ It helps give the kids inspiration that a woman can have a vocation,” O’Leary said.

Anna Alexander has been a teacher at the school for 13 years, the last two teaching second grade, when the students learn about the sacraments.

“Stephany explains it to the students,” Alexander said. “When we talk about sisters, they always bring up Ms. Nelson.

“I remember when she came to my house and told me she was going to be a sister,” Alexander said. “I said, ‘You’ll be perfect for it.’ The way she sings at Mass, you can see her love for God. She’ll be excellent at whatever she chooses to do.”


In the classroom

The kindergarten, first grade and second grade teachers combine in a professional learning community to share ideas and support each other.

“Stephany is very compassionate, she has a lot of care for her students,” O’Leary said. “Last year was my first year teaching and she was very helpful.”

Stringer, the kindergarten teacher, said Stephany’s faith is her strongest attribute.

First-graders gather around Stephany to receive their reading sheets back and to pick a prize.

“She has high standards for her students, as I do, so passing them on works well.” Alexander is a former first grade teacher, so she knows how well Stephany is preparing her future students.

“She does a great job, you can tell the kids are ready for second grade,” Alexander said. “They are ready and eager to learn.”


  1. C.J. Olinger

    Such an inspiring story! Thank you, Stephany, for sharing and for saying YES to God so many times. Our community is blessed to have you!

  2. Blaine Nelson

    Stephany I couldn’t be more proud if anything than to call you my sister. You have always followed your heart, and look where it has taken you. The fact that so many people will be touched by your love and kindness is a wonderful thing. Love you, Blaine

  3. Cheryl Huber

    Stephany, your story and witness of being called to religious life as a Ursuline Sister is a gift for you from God. You are so deserving and will offer your gifts and talents to others. I will keep you in pray during your studies and continue time of teaching.

  4. Anna Marie Greenwell

    What an awesome life experience you have had, that has lead you to the catholic church. God truly works in an amazing way in all our lives.
    May God Bless you in your Lords work..may he Bless and Keep you in His care!!!

  5. Barbara Crews

    Stephany I really enjoyed reading your story. I feel so blessed Blair had you as a teacher. She truly loves you. I will continue to pray for you as you continue your journey. Have a wonderful summer. Barbara

  6. Ruth

    Stephany . . . thanks so much for sharing your story. It’s good to get to know you better. I love everything you say and do as a first-grade teacher. My first-grade teacher inspired me to want to be just like her . . . and I did teach first grade . . . for three years, and I loved it. You are obviously inspiring your first-graders too! It’s always good to be with you at the Mount. There’s always a room waiting for you in PVH. Blessings on you and your wonderful ministry. Ruth Gehres, OSU

  7. Janie Brasher

    Stephany you are an amazing woman. I feel so privileged to have had you teach our granddaughter Emily Brasher in RCIC about the teachings of the Catholic Church. May God continue to bless your journey in the life of an Ursline Sister.
    In Christ

  8. Marietta Wethington,OSU

    Your story is wonderful. Thanks for sharing. I, too, taught first grade for many years. One of my favorite ministries. Isn’t it delightful to see the sparkle in their eyes when they learn something new and when they discover the joy of reading.
    Thank you for sharing your life with us. I hope you enjoy being an Ursuline Sister as much as I do.
    God bless you as you continue your journey. My prayers are with you.

  9. S.Rosemary Keough

    Enjoyed your story, Stephany! God is surely guiding you. I’m so glad you are a part of US! Love, SRK

  10. Brother Gabriel Monarch, O.H.

    Stephany…I so remember my being in the first grade at Sts. Joseph and Paul Parish in Owensboro….1949…those wonderful Ursulines Sisters brings back my eight years in grade school…memories I could write a book…my first cousin is Sister Jacinta Powers, OSU…just wanted to let you know that I will contact our Vatican Community and have a Mass said for your intentions and will have a seven day candle lit for you in St. Peter’s in one of the side chapels…Stephanie you will get your Masters and your entrance into the Novitiate will be a reality soon…God love and bless you…Brother Gabriel Monarch, O.H.

Comments are closed