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Sister Mary Ann McCauley

Current ministry: In transition

Years in the Congregation: 59

Contact Sister Mary Ann at: mmccaule@spsmw.org

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

Q. When I am not officially at work, or involved in ministry, you’re most likely to see me… A. Taking a nap.

Q. On weekends, I love to… A. Do needlework.

Q. I am passionate about… A. Caring for animals; recycling too

Q. What the world needs now… A. Love sweet love; nurturing, recycling

Q. Name one thing you miss about being a kid. A. I think I should have had a little more play time when I was a kid. I had to grow up early.

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

A. Being a Terre Haute native, the Sisters of Providence were the closest to me. I was taught by the Sisters of Providence in grade school and high school. I did think about other communities. I was interested in Glenmary. I don’t know why, exactly. Home missions, I guess. Of course, the Carmelite Monastery (Terre Haute) opened when I was in high school. We went down there for the opening. I was in awe of how Spartan their lives were. I’m sure I thought about it for a while, but it wouldn’t stick with me very long. The Sisters of Providence always were extremely good to me while I was growing up, so, it just seemed like a natural fit.

Q. From what you have said, it sounds like you knew that you wanted to become a sister.

A. Well, yes. I knew I wanted to help people. The sisters that I knew were happy and welcoming. I wanted to be part of that. They did a lot of good without blowing their own horns. I was comfortable with that. They were incredibly patient. I spent a lot of time hanging around the school. When I was in the upper grades, I would go help the first-grade teacher correct papers and things like that. They just welcomed me, and treated me so well. It was probably around eighth grade when I started thinking seriously about becoming a sister. My parents were divorced. The sisters never made me feel like a second-class citizen. In those days, to have your parents divorced was pretty unusual. I’m sure I was sensitive about it, but nobody ever made a big deal about it.

Q. You made the comment that during your early years in the Congregation you wanted to be a Sister of Providence more than a nurse. Can you talk a little more about that?

A. I guess it was a security thing. I felt this is where I should be. It was more or less expected then that you would be a teacher. So I was an obedient little, young sister and I did as I was told. I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy teaching or enjoy the kids, because I did. I taught in big schools in Chicago. I had excellent school role models. Everybody helped. I learned a lot. I think I was an OK teacher. I wouldn’t consider myself a great teacher. I met a lot of wonderful families. My best teaching experience was in Wilson, North Carolina. I was down there seven years with Sister Rose Marita. We were integrating our school. There was a black school and a white school. There were the black Oblate Sisters of Providence and the white Sisters of Providence teaching in the same city. We were sure they were going to burn a cross in our yard when we integrated the school. We had some tough times down there. That was my most rewarding teaching experience. I went down there in 1964, so we were there when Dr. Martin Luther King was shot. We went to the Baptist church for a memorial service. When we left the church, we were going to have a silent march to the city hall. We didn’t think anything about it, but they said all the women and children walk on the inside. I thought, “Hmmmm.” When we walked out there was a Jeep parked right across the street with a mounted machine gun. The National Guard was on the rooftops of stores and buildings along the three or four blocks down the street. It got my attention. I went to summer school one year at the University of Georgia. A priest was teasing me. He said, “Now, Mary Ann, don’t let the Klan get you while you are down there. The bishop has been praying for years for a martyr, and it would be a crime to waste your blood on the soil of Georgia.”

What attracted me was their joy. You could tell they liked each other.
– Sister Mary Ann

Q. Why would a woman be attracted to living life as a religious, being part of a community like the Sisters of Providence?

A. What attracted me was their joy. You could tell they liked each other. I think the same thing today. When you see a group of Sisters of Providence together, you can tell they are happy to be together, that they are engaged in what they are doing, that they want to make things better for people. We are welcoming in many different circumstances, people at the food pantry, people at the health clinic. No matter where they are, I think we, as a group, are very welcoming, even in our neighborhood. People who live around us know that we are there and they can call upon us if they need something. We will pitch in if there is a need. Those are the kinds of things that I think would be attractive to anyone. You feel as if you can make a difference to make the world a better place, such as working with the environment. I’ve always been very happy to say that we have the White Violet Center for Eco-Justice, but I’ve never done anything there. But last year I was in a spinning workshop. The people who came, I was just amazed. They were there from many different places in the United States. They were people who, in their own lives, were committed to making the world a better place. The sharing that went on! We were there to learn how to spin and weave, but there was so much more that went on.

Q. If you were to sit down and write this story, what would your focus be?

A. It would be that my life would encourage other people to understand the beauty of community life and having a chance to help the world. I have always been impressed that it doesn’t take big, big things to change the world. Sometimes a very small thing, or simple thing, can be deep and meaningful to people if they have the time and space to experience it.

Favorites


Website: Animal rescue site.

Food: Italian or Mexican. I like spicy food.

Flower/plant: Christmas cactus.

Movie: Sherlock Holmes.

TV show: NCIS. They have a good team.

Vacation spot: The beach. I love the ocean waves.

Recreation: Sudoku, walking.

Hobby: Crocheting, knitting, cooking, recycling.

Music/song: Classical; Chopin.

Animal: Dogs. I have a dog named Guerin and a cat named Providence.

Pizza topping: Sausage, red onion, green pepper.

Holiday: Easter. I love Spring, the newness of life, resurrection.

Author: Joyce Rupp, spiritual.

Dessert: Lemon meringue pie.

Time of day: Morning, for its peace and quiet.

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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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