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Sister Marceline looks back on the richness of 84 years as a woman religious

Sister Marceline Mattingly in her classroom as she teaches anatomy at Immaculata College in Washington, DC, sometime in the early 1960s.

(Sister Marceline Mattingly, at 101 years old, is the oldest living Sister of Providence. She celebrates 84 years as a Sister of Providence on February 10. Here she shares a bit of what living as a Catholic woman religious has meant for her.)

Religious life has been the greatest gift God has given me.

There were many opportunities of what I wanted to do when I was in first grade. On Sunday after Mass, instead of running up and down, my mom told me to listen to what Sister was talking about and come home to tell her. I found out that Sister was teaching about God. That inspired me to become a sister to teach children about God.

Providence has never failed me. Religious life is inspiring because I lived with sisters who themselves are inspiring. Religious life is fulfilling because all the things I thought I would do in life have happened.

I’ve been given many opportunities to advance in my spiritual life, from attending workshops, annual retreats, reading spiritual books, participating in faith and life sharing groups.

A great life

I was able to teach children about God no matter what subject I was teaching. Life sciences were my area of expertise and that gave me the opportunities to teach the wonder of God’s creation. The mysteries of the body always fascinated my high school students. They loved anatomy and physiology. The subject of evolution as part of God’s creation was especially interesting to them and I hope it led them to a greater knowledge of God’s love.

Sister Marceline Mattingly is still going strong at 101 years old. Last week she visited and spoke with students at Our Lady of Greenwood Catholic School in Greenwood, Indiana, on their 101st day of school.

I am mostly pre-Vatican II but I was excited to enter the modern world. I didn’t sit back. I was open to the evolving religious life and because of openness I was able to do many new things.

I taught young seminarians in Washington, D.C. I organized science seminars for talented senior students, acquiring speakers for them that enriched not only the students but myself personally.

Living as a woman religious allowed my gifts and talents to be recognized. I was a member of the National Institute of Health, a contributor to a published new textbook using chemistry approaches. I was awarded as outstanding biology teacher for Washington D.C., when only one teacher was given the award in every state.

My lived experiences of religious life varied over the years. I feel there has been mutual contribution: I gave to the community and the community gave to me. And for this I thank God.

Where else could I have experienced all of this?

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Sister Marceline Mattingly

Sister Marceline Mattingly is currently the oldest living Sister of Providence. She turned 100 in 2015. She entered the Sisters of Providence in 1933. She began her ministry with mostly 7th and 8th graders in schools in Indiana and Illinois. She then moved on to teaching high school and then college life sciences and religion in Indiana and Washington, DC. She has served as a pastoral associate and an instructor in the Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College Learning Resource Center. Currently Sister Marceline volunteers at Providence Health Care at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.

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8 Comments

  1. Lori Strawn on February 1, 2017 at 10:46 am

    S. Marceline is my idol and hero. I love hearing her stories!

  2. S.Rita Clare on February 1, 2017 at 2:17 pm

    Marceline, you have inspired many including me by your enthusiasm for LIFE and especially your many years as a Sister of Providence! You have given me and received much–Thanks be to God!

  3. Janet Tosick on February 1, 2017 at 7:56 pm

    Sister Marceline, you are so inspiring! Thank you for writing how much you love being a Sister of
    Providence. I’m sure many students remember you with fondness.

    We are blessed to have you join us in our all Academy Mass every November in Indianapolis at
    St. Mary’s Church. We hope to see you next year, Sister Marceline!

    what a wonderful treat the children had last week to celebrate their 101st day of school with you.
    God bless you!!

    love, Janet Tosick

  4. Janet Tosick on February 1, 2017 at 7:57 pm

    Sister Marceline, you are so inspiring! Thank you for writing how much you love being a Sister of
    Providence. I’m sure many students remember you with fondness.

    We are blessed to have you join us in our all Academy Mass every November in Indianapolis at
    St. Mary’s Church. We hope to see you next year, Sister Marceline!

    what a wonderful treat the children had last week to celebrate their 101st day of school with you.
    God bless you!!

    love, Janet Tosick

  5. Paula Modaff, S.P. on February 3, 2017 at 5:10 pm

    Simply seeing you and exchanging a greeting with you gives me energy, dear Marceline. Thank you for that and for you.

  6. Theresa Tighe on February 4, 2017 at 12:34 pm

    Reading your blog and seeing your picture with the students gave me inspiration and faith in God’s providence.

  7. Lisa Rice on February 6, 2017 at 2:29 pm

    Sister Marceline,

    Thank you so very much for sharing your God-given time, treasure and talents with the young women of Washington, DC. We are richer for the experiences you created for us at Immaculata.

    Bless you,

    Lisa Rice
    IPS ’79

  8. Christina Arpin Pollet on February 6, 2017 at 9:41 pm

    When asked, I always say that Sister Marceline is the one teacher who changed my life. I was in her class, swinging my legs and day dreaming; she stopped her lecture and whispered to me, ” channel that energy to your brain”. At that point I began to focus and my grades showed it. I now have a Masters in Nurse Anesthesia. I have been practicing anesthesia for almost 30 years, all because of Sister Marceline, thank you.

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