Stephany Nelson is at home in the classroom

Stephany had 17 students this past year. “I teach all subjects other than physical education, art, computer lab and library,” she said. “I enjoy teaching reading. They can do anything if they can read.”

One of Stephany’s top spellers displays her skills in front of the first-grade class at St. Joseph School on May 21.

“I love the religion series we use,” Stephany said. “It talks mostly about Jesus’ love for us, God’s love for us. It tells them their parents discipline them because they love them. It’s doing a good job, they know they are loved.”

Her students clearly have great affection for her.

“She’s a good singer,” Avery Kimbler said. “My favorite class is religion. We get to learn about Jesus and sometimes we get to sing songs.”

“She teaches us about Jesus, that he was the son of God,” Blair Alexander said.

Upon retrieving her students from physical education class, one of the girls excitedly tells her, “Ms. Nelson, I fell down face first and I didn’t cry.”

Being with the Ursulines has affected Stephany as a teacher, she said.

“Saint Angela said, ‘You will achieve more with kindness and gentleness than with harshness and sharp rebukes.’ I can’t say I was the most gentle teacher when I started,” Stephany said. “I learned that from reading Saint Angela, talking to sisters and my spiritual director. It’s been very good for me.”


Relying on faith

Stephany inside the Marian Shrine Adoration Chapel on the grounds of St. Joseph Church. Stephany attends daily Mass in the chapel during the school year.

During the school year, Stephany attempts to attend daily Mass at the Marian Shrine Adoration Chapel at St. Joseph School, a tiny but inspiring gathering space. She is the only Ursuline Sister serving in Bowling Green.

“I wish someone could be here with me,” she said. She enjoys being at Maple Mount, but the 90-minute drive from Bowling Green is unrealistic every weekend. Three sisters who live by themselves — Sister Larraine Lauter in Louisville, Sister Alicia Coomes in Morganfield, Ky., and Sister Martha in Fancy Farm, Ky. — are gathering with Stephany to do morning prayer together at 6 a.m. using Zoom video conferencing.

As the only woman in formation with the Ursuline Sisters, Stephany realizes she becomes the focus of vocation ministry for many people, but she said she doesn’t mind.

“I think people need to understand what religious life is. It’s not what it used to be,” she said. “For people to see, you need someone going through it. Most communities are in transition. It needs to be realistic. I wish that there were others (entering the community), but I understand.”

Stephany is hoping for a little less drama in the coming year. Her mother is doing better and their relationship has improved with time. As Stephany readies herself for her seventh year at St. Joseph and more instruction on the Ursuline life, she said she feels good about her decision to join.

“I have peace about that. As far as how this will all work out, only God knows.”


  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.

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