The Story of Sister Marietta
Sister Marietta Urban came to the Senior Companion Program (SCP) five years ago eager to slow down from her previous employment and to serve the homebound elderly. Allow me to share some of the background of a woman who has lived a full life and made a difference to countless people.
As a young child, Sister Marietta was eager to learn but this was a time in history when women did not normally pursue education. She received the opportunity to continue her education at the age of thirteen when her aunt and uncle paid for her to go to Catholic School. It was there she found her calling and became a nun.
On my last visit with Sister Marietta she reminisced about Africa where she taught. She got caught up in a war between the Catholics and the Muslims. She survived six months in an African jungle before escaping to find refuge at an American embassy.
Later in her life, she helped start Harvest House here in Wichita, a parish-based enrichment program for retired Catholics to nurture their growth and commitment to the Church. She worked with that program for over twenty years but finally decided it was time to move on.
This weekend she will celebrate her sixty-fifth jubilee as a nun. Unfortunately, this week she will also be moving home to the motherhouse in Great Bend. Sister Marietta battled cancer last year. Two months ago she announced that she was cancer-free. This week she found out the cancer is back in a very aggressive form in her abdomen. This time it is untreat-able. Sister Marietta is in route to the infirmary in Great Bend as I write.
Yesterday the Senior Companion staff and I were able to say our goodbyes. I met with both of her clients yesterday as well. Their lives were touched by Sister Marietta through the Senior Companion Program. Madeline was in good spirits when I visited. She spoke of their two and a half years. During the summer they went on picnics, walks to the ice cream store, and outings to the park. Madeline no longer drives, so Sister Marietta has taken her on sightseeing trips of the Cathedrals in and around Wichita. They also enjoyed each other’s company in Madeline’s home. With a cup of coffee, they would share stories, reminisce, play cards and even watch home videos of Madeline’s grandchildren. Madeline is saddened by Sister Marietta’s news, saddened by the loss of a friend.SCP strives to make meaningful matches between volunteers and homebound seniors. Our volunteers give their clients positive encounters and something to look forward to each week. We are thankful for the time Sister Marietta was with our program.
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