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Sister Kay Manley

Current ministry: Teacher, Guerin College Preparatory High School

Years in the Congregation: 51 years

If I were not a Sister of Providence: I’d be an airline stewardess.

Sisters of Providence were known in my home at a very early age. My parents knew the Duffy, Doherty, McNulty and Patrick families all of whom had daughters who were Sisters of Providence, (SPs). Some of the SPs in those families wrote to me or had other prospective SPs write to me about the possibility of attending high school at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. After a vocation presentation in the eighth grade, my friend and I decided to tell Sister Marie Kevin Tighe, our eighth grade teacher, that we wanted to go to high school at St. Mary-of-the-Woods. The next day and every day after telling Sister Marie Kevin our plan, we avoided her for the remainder of our eighth grade year and continued with our plans to enroll in Scecina High School in Indianapolis. The bus on which I rode from Scecina let me out at the stop in front of St. Philip Neri Church. I stopped in the Church frequently asking God to take away the nudge that was pulling me to try the high school at the Woods. When this nudge would not go away, I approached Sister Marie Kevin and she had an application for me within days. I attended the high school, postulancy, and novitiate and was a junior sister who continued at the Woods to complete college courses.

In August of 1961 teachers were needed in Terre Haute and I was assigned to teach Grade 2 at St. Margaret Mary School. How could I do this when I did not know that much about teaching? The answer came in the person of Sister Virginia Mary Arthur, who taught me skills I still use today in my teaching. For five years I taught students in primary grades in Indiana and Illinois.

In May of 1967, I was assigned to Van Nuys, California. How could I go that far away? The answer came in the comfort of Sisters of Providence on the train as the distance from Indiana grew greater. I taught primary students using the skills I had learned. This was the time when SPs did not travel to the Woods every summer. The Provincial Superior found a summer job for me at Providence Speech and Hearing Center teaching readiness skills to children who were delayed in language development. How was I to do this when I knew very little about children being delayed in language skills? After teaching during the summer and one year, I attended school to study language development. For seven years I learned and taught these children and gave support to their parents. School districts were opening programs for these children and the enrollment declined making way for me to return to Catholic education at St. Anthony of Padua School in Gardena teaching primary students.

There is a beautiful saying among Providence Women “All I know of tomorrow is that Providence will rise before the sun.”
– Sister Kay

In two years the job of principal of the school opened and I took on this challenge, again not being prepared for what I was about to do. Again I asked “how” and the answer came from the Provident God who had been guiding me in all of my ministries. It seemed as though I was seldom prepared or prepared well enough for the ministry I did. Sisters of Providence were always, and still are, there for me to help me succeed and God was always there before the sun rose. There is a beautiful saying among Providence Women “All I know of tomorrow is that Providence will rise before the sun.” My Provident God rose before me for the ten years I was principal of St. Anthony of Padua.

After 10 years of being principal, I had used my “bag of tricks,” and needed to move on to something different. I attended the University of Notre Dame where I majored in football and basketball games, minored in water aerobics and audited courses in Theology. I was home again in Indiana after 21 years in California. This was the end of the 1980s. Not too many people knew me or my background. How was I going to find a ministry? The answer came in a telephone call asking me to interview to be the Administrator of Owens Hall where our Sisters in retirement lived. How would I be able to minister to Sisters in the autumn and winter of their lives? The telephone call and the guidance for this ministry came in the person who today I call friend, Sister Ann Sullivan. While I may have been of some help to the sisters, they, by far, taught me so many lessons in life and to lean with all my weight on the Providence of God.

It was at this time that I became reacquainted with my family. It was joyous to spend holidays with them, attend weddings and summer picnics.

While being administrator, I studied in the Master’s Degree Program in Pastoral Theology at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. When the four-year term ended so did my studies. There was an opening at Mother Theodore Guerin High School in River Grove teaching Theology to ninth grade girls. High school? How was I going to be able to do this? By this time I had instilled in myself that my Provident God would be with me and help me every step of the way.

Some of these changes in my life seemed rather dramatic at the time, but changes in my personal life also presented challenges.

How does one cope with the loss of four family members in two years? My Manley family was there for me as we are a family who laughs together and cries together. Sisters of Providence supported me in prayer and presence. Never would I have survived without my Manley family and my Sister of Providence Family. It was Sister Alice Potts who taught me that the only way to deal with grief was to go through it not around it. Through it I went with the support of my families.

Mother Theodore Guerin High School had a name change and an enrollment change. How bold was I to teach boys? Many of my Sister friends reminded me that the boys were just one year away from eighth grade. Saint Mother Theodore’s words were of interest to me. “Love the children first and then teach them,” she said. Guerin Prep has graduated its second year of boys and girls and I am still there teaching Scripture to young women and men.

I came to the Sisters of Providence with the urgings of other SPs and the support of my family. I stay with the Sisters of Providence because they and I are one family. The SPs have supported me from the first “How” I asked to this day – 51 years later. “All things are Possible” when God and SPs accompany one on the journey.

Out of God’s infinite glory, God has given me the power through the Spirit for my hidden self to grow strong…. (Based on Ephesians 3:16).


food: mom’s chili

book: Gift from the Sea

vacation spot: near the ocean

recreation: playing cards

sport: watching football

song: I believe

pizza topping: sausage and onion

holiday: Thanksgiving

author: Joyce Rupp, OSM

dessert: vanilla ice cream

time of day: morning

season: spring – new life

actress: Barbra Streisand

heroine: my mother

saint: Saint Mother Theodore Guerin

outdoor activity: walking

style of music: reflective

least favorite food: shrimp

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Sisters of Providence

The Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana, are a congregation of Roman Catholic women religious (sisters) who minister throughout the United States and Taiwan. Saint Mother Theodore Guerin founded the Sisters of Providence in 1840. The congregation has a mission of being God's Providence in the world by committing to performing works of love, mercy and justice in service among God's people.

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