Home » Features » Sister Marie McCarthy


Sister Marie McCarthy

Current ministry:General Officer

Years in the Congregation: 50

Contact Sister Marie at: 812-535-2863 mmccarth@spsmw.org

Q. What do you like best about Saint Mary-of-the- Woods? A. The beauty.

Q. When I am not involved in work or my ministry, you are most likely to see me… A. Reading, sleeping.

Q. On weekends, I love to… A. Hang out, putz around the house, maybe get out for a long walk.

Q. I am passionate about… A. Life

Q. What the world needs now… A. Is love, sweet love. You know it’s true.

Q. Why did you choose to become a Sister of Providence?

A. I think it chose me. I was in grade school. When I was in second grade, we went to a new school and Sisters of Providence taught there. I just liked the sisters. I thought they were wonderful women and it just seemed like it was something I wanted to do.

Q. What made the big impression for you?

A. I don’t know. I was one of those kids who loved school and there they were and that’s who was teaching me. Learning was so exciting and they were good teachers. I’d say they were kind, but actually my second-grade teacher wasn’t. She was nasty. But my third-grade teacher was. Sometimes we would knit after school. I liked being around them. We always helped out after school.

Q. You said your vocation chose you. How did you know that?

A. I can say that now. At the time, it seemed like a natural fit. I was going to be either a nurse or a ballet dancer or a Sister of Providence. It was an era when female children would not have been thinking doctor. Being a ballet dancer, I loved the little tutus, the costumes and things. It seemed glamorous. I also have liked music from the time I was very little. With the nurse, it was the helping profession, doing something for others, taking care of people when they were sick. It was an impulse to help others. About becoming a Sister of Providence, I think if I had been at a different grade school, I might have ended up in a different community. It’s probably how Providence acts or works. A really great story my father tells is this: When we came home from school the first day, my sister and I, she’s a year and a half older, Dad asked us what kind of sisters were at the new school and we very proudly announced that we had the “Sisters of Protestants.”

Q. Why would a woman today accept life in a religious community as an attractive option?

A. First, there really is such a thing as vocation. There is a call. It is attractive because it provides an opportunity to come into a fullness of self, to develop your own gifts, skills, talents, in union with others with a sense of purpose and mission. It’s an opportunity to blossom, to become the best one can be. It’s a great life, it really is.

Q. You have so much enthusiasm and energy after 50 years in community.

A. I really do have a lot of enthusiasm and energy for this life and work. You know, when I was working in a counseling center, there was one young woman with whom I was working, and I remember sitting there thinking, “She still wants to save the world.” And I thought, “You do it, honey!” And you know what, I do too. There’s still something alive in me that knows we really do make a difference by how we live our lives. And, we really do make this world better for those who follow us. There is something worth doing with one’s life and I can do it here.

Q. What role does prayer have in your life right now?

A. It’s at the center. It’s absolutely central and essential. My prayer has shifted, changed over the years. Now, every morning I take formal time to sit and be quiet, just to be present with God, present with whatever is, trying to open myself, but I also have a sense for the way it permeates the whole day. There is an old, old sappy poem that has a line in it about taking minute vacations. I haven’t done this for a while, but I have a kaleidoscope or two in my office. I’ll take a minute or two to look through the kaleidoscope, to shift gears to ground myself, to remember what I’m doing, why I’m doing it, who I am, what I am about. Sometimes, if it’s real hectic, the flashing red light on the phone is a reminder to remember who I am and why I do what I do.

Q. How important is community lifestyle for you?

A. Community is my closest, deepest relationship. Those connections are absolutely critical for me. My sisters have made me who I am, just as I have helped make them who they are. There were a couple of brief periods where I was living alone. It’s not good for me to live by myself. I begin to think the world is the way I want it. I don’t have to adjust for others. I can get into my own little world way too much. It is very good for me to have the ebb and flow, the ups and down and the joys. I like sharing my life with other people. I like fixing a meal for folks. I enjoy doing the grocery shopping. I enjoy just hanging out. I enjoy all of that, but I really need my own time too. If I fudge on that, my quiet time in the morning, or if I need a little space and don’t take it, it’s really not pretty. I just get into a bad space and it comes out all over the place.

[Mother Theodore] was the real women’s libber. She was at the core of why you stand where you stand, you don’t do it just to do it. It was because it was right. It was never about her.
– Sister Marie

Q. What impact does Saint Mother Theodore Guerin have on your life?

A. She started it all. It’s her fault that we are here. The way she lived her life, the authenticity of it, the clarity about God’s place in life, the whole sense of Providence, and her real reliance on Providence; what an example to follow! She had an open spirit, a real capacity to love everyone as they were. She was the real women’s libber. She was at the core of why you stand where you stand, you don’t do it just to do it. It was because it was right. It was never about her.

Q. What is the most important thing in your life right now?

A. Living with integrity. Being where I am, doing what I am doing with a kind of fullness and authenticity; not running ahead, not running behind.


Food: Pasta

Flower/plant: Black-eyed Susan

Book: Almost all

Movie: To Kill a Mockingbird

Vacation spot: Any place by water

Recreation: Walking, reading

Hobby: Playing the piano, cooking

Sport: Ping pong

Music/song: I love most classical music

Animal: Dog

Pizza topping: Stuffed spinach pizza

Holiday: Thanksgiving

Author: Barbara Kingsolver

Scripture passage: Glory be to God who is able to accomplish infinitely more than we can ask or even imagine.

Share this:


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.

Stay connected

Our enewsletters and publications will keep you up to date with the best content from the Sisters of Providence.

Plan for your future!

Leave the things you value to the people and purposes you value most.

Updated Estate Planning Info. here

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.