Home » Blog » “High spirits and mischief”: a story of sledding

“High spirits and mischief”: a story of sledding

maryalmaryan-2In the category of “things I find while looking for something else” is this delightful story about Sister Mary Alma Ryan. Sister Mary Alma was appointed superior of the Academy in 1897 and served on the council from 1902 to 1926. But this story from the third history volume, Sister Mary Roger Madden’s The Path Marked Out, gives another side of her story. The narrator of this particular memory is Sister Mary Theodosia Mug, who was Sister Mary Alma’s friend. I’ll turn it over to her:

Sister Mary Alma’s early years in the community were dotted with displays of high spirits and mischief. Domestic employments did not appeal strongly to her. No better sport did she have than to try to elude her turn at washing the supper dishes at the Academy and with another equally delinquent, [quite possibly Mary Theodosia herself] slip away from the “minims” a sled that “Pappy” Guthneck had fashioned, and go coasting down the ravine.

On one such occasion with the happy pair singing “In the moonlight we will wander,” Mother Anastasie, then directress of the school, suddenly appeared on the bank. She chided, “Sisters, what does this mean?” The answer flashed back, “Just working up energy for the dishwashing. Get on, Mother, we will-give you a ride home.” maryalmaryan-1Forcing her down on the sled, they started on a run. Laughable was the sight when the door opened to the sleighing party. Mother Anastasie was game. “Now for my enforced ride, I’ll help you wash the dishes,” she declared. Protest was unavailing.

The duty finished, she marshalled the culprits into the Sisters, recreation room. “Prisoners of war” she explained, “what we do with them?” One said, “Give them two turns at the dishes,” another, “Send them to bed,” but dear Sister Maurice said, “Make them take me for a ride!” Agreed. [Sister Maurice weighed about two hundred and fifty pounds.] Thus they paid their fine and were glad to go to bed when Sister Maurice cried “Enough!”

Sister Mary Alma would say, when reverting to the episode in later years, that an interview the next day with the Mistress of Novices, who kept an eye on the young professed, was of “Historic Importance.”

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Christina Blust

Christina worked as the digital media and website manager for Sisters of Providence for 9 years and now serves as the website's designer and consultant through her company, Blustery Day Design. She's a musician, reader, writer and generally curious person.

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  1. Bill Hughes on February 5, 2015 at 8:13 am

    A delightful story, indeed! All of that in full habit? What a picture.

    • Christina Blust on February 9, 2015 at 11:04 am

      I know! And Mother Anastasie was in her sixties, at least, by this time.

  2. Jena Thralls on February 5, 2015 at 11:34 am

    I so appreciate your blogs Christina!

  3. Tracey Horan on February 5, 2015 at 12:54 pm

    This is fantastic! Glad to know that our modern sledding escapades are just carrying on the SP legacy…minus the “interview” that followed their shenanigans. 🙂 Thanks for sharing, Christina!

  4. Ann Clem on February 8, 2015 at 10:03 pm

    Good to know how human the nuns were, even in the “day”. And these were the types that encouraged vocations, because they weren’t afraid to reveal that human side.

  5. Betty Malone on February 10, 2015 at 9:05 am

    Back in another, later day, I remember Sister Mary Dominica reminding the novices, “Sisters, we do not do bellyflops on the sleds!”

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