Sister Mary Ellen Kilday
“Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” (John 20:21)
“‘Peace. … As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ This quote from the Gospel of John was a favorite of Sister Mary Ellen and supported her all the days of her life and especially during her 76 years as a Sister of Providence. She spent her life in spreading knowledge of God and his gifts to all those she taught or came into contact with. The deep friendships with these persons who were a part of her life are proof that in addition to academic subjects, Sister Mary Ellen shared the gifts of peace and faith in the God whom she loved and served so well,” said Sister Mary Ann Phelan in her commentary for Sister Mary Ellen Kilday, who died May 17.
Margaret Eileen Kilday was born Feb. 14, 1913, in Sterling, Ill., to John and Mary (Bogue) Kilday. One of eight children, she attended Holy Cross Grade School and Mercy High School, both in Chicago. She entered the Congregation Feb. 14, 1932, and professed first and perpetual vows Aug. 15, 1934, and 1940, respectively. Sister Mary Ellen earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, a master’s degree in zoology from the University of Notre Dame and another master’s degree in educational administration from Indiana State University.
For nearly 40 years, Sister Mary Ellen ministered in junior high or high school, commencing in 1934 at St. Catherine, Indianapolis. Her other Indiana pedagogical ministries included Assumption, Evansville; St. Patrick and Schulte High School, Terre Haute; Central Catholic High School, Fort Wayne; St. Agnes Academy, Indianapolis; St. John High School, Loogootee; and St. Rose High School, Vincennes. In Illinois, she ministered at St. Mary Carmelite, Joliet; Providence High School, Chicago; St. Joseph and Corpus Christi high schools, Galesburg; and Mother Theodore Guerin High School, River Grove. Sister Mary Ellen also taught or served in administration at Immaculata Seminary, Washington, D.C.; St. Rose High School, Chelsea, Mass.; and Cardinal Mooney High School, Sarasota, Fla.
In 1974, Sister Mary Ellen started a new ministry path by serving as an educational consultant with Diener & Associates Inc. in North Carolina. For four years during her time in North Carolina, she was also the president for the Foundation for Educational Development. For two years, she ministered as the interim superintendent for the Catholic school system, Diocese of Raleigh, N.C. She retired in 1994 and provided parish service at Sacred Heart Parish, Anniston, Ala. Sister Mary Ellen returned to the Woods in 1997.
“Sister Mary Ellen loved life and had a good sense of humor. She was always gracious and grateful for everything that was done for her; even a good morning to her in the hallway brought a ‘thank you.’ She was most grateful to the nurses and aides who enjoyed taking care of her. Sister Mary Ellen has been a true and faithful friend to many people, who loved her and were grateful for the gift of her in their lives,” said Sister Mary Ann.
“When we look at Sister Mary Ellen’s life, we can all learn how to be loving, faithful followers of Christ while hearing in our hearts, ‘As the Father has sent me, I also send you.’ Sister Mary Ellen has shown us that if we remember this we will be ready to meet him as she was on Saturday morning, May 17, when I am sure she heard the words: ‘Well done, good and faithful servant,’” shared Sister Mary Ann.
The Mass of Christian Burial for Sister Mary Ellen was celebrated May 23, with the Rev. Daniel Hopcus presiding. She was preceded in death by all her siblings, including her sister, Sister Margaret Eileen Kilday.
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