Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Sister Mary Ruth - A Vick Catholic Nun

I wrote the article below for the January 2009 Vick Family Newsletter.

Prior to reading about Sister Mary Ruth I had no idea that any of the Vicks in my father’s family were anything but Methodists. My father’s brother, Robert Edward Vick, Sr., of Greenville, KY, gave me a copy of an unpublished document titled "Mercer Family That Affects the Vick Family," written by George Del Vick. In the document George Del Vick said Mary Ruth was a Catholic nun who had lived at Mount Saint Joseph in Maple Mount, KY. Around the summer of 1994 I went to the convent and Sister Emma Cecilia Busam, Order of St. Ursula (O.S.U.), gave me copies of the following documents (that I have transcribed here) proving that we did, in fact, have a Catholic nun in our family.

SISTER MARY RUTH VICK 08-27-1882 - 08-05-1951
Parents: Sebastian and Nancy Whangar Vick
Born: Greenville, Kentucky
Baptized: Blanche October 15, 1904
Entered: April 27, 1914
Received habit: December 30, 1914 No. 109
Final Vows: July 16, 1923

About Sister Mary Ruth we have very little information in the Archives, and very little can be learned from those who remember her, except for the fact that she was a cripple. It is believed that she was not close to her relatives, or that she was a sort of orphan when she came here. She did not enter until she was 31, so much is unknown to us who would like to know why she was a "different" person from the ordinary run of us. There was a lady in Owensboro who was interested in her; she may have been a friend or a relative. Sister Patrice had shown an interest in Sister Mary Ruth, and after Sister's death this lady sent gifts to the Mount and to Sister Patrice to show her appreciation. For example, she paid for the floor tiling on Lourdes II; she sent a film projector for the sick so that they could see novies (sic); she sent a sizeable electric fan and a recliner to Sister Patrice, and she used that recliner to the last of her days, in 1983.

During her 37 years as an Ursuline Sister Mary Ruth was on a mission other than Mt. St. Joseph at St. Joseph, Owensboro, for 16 months; all the remainder of her years were spent at the Mount. She helped take care of the sick on the third floor of St. Angela's building where the tuberculosis patients were cared for. She cooked for them, and made many trips up and down those flights of steps. Later she was in charge of the 'little girls.' She did not spare the hair brush; nor did she spoil the child. She spent a lot of her time piecing quilts on the machine. She lived on the top floor of the Novitiate building (now St. Ursula) on the south side. She had a basket on a rope that she would lower with a note in it for whatever she wanted; she would then 'haul' the basket up.

Sister Amanda Rose wrote this essay “The Beads Whisper From the Sick Room” when she was a postulant in 1950 and had been assigned the job of working in the infirmary with Sister Mary Ruth and others. It seems the essay was especially about Sister Mary Ruth's beads.

I'm a pair of beads and I have a little story to tell you. I'm not just an ordinary rosary. For one thing, I have blessings galore bestowed upon me.

I know, for my owner always mentions that to everyone she meets and then what makes me different from other beads, and what I love most of all is the very comfortable and permanent home I have in a pair of soft wrinkled old hands. They are hands that belong to a Shepherdess of “sheep.” That's nothere (sic) name for a Spouse of Christ. But now she has retired from the field where she personally watched over the flock of Christ's “sheep,” and with me to help her, she's still watching and guarding over them from a distance. I must say she certainly keeps me busy. Perhaps you've guessed we live behind convent walls in a small room equipped with a bed, table or two, and chair. On the wall are several holy pictures and her prized possession, a crucifix. Sometimes she gazes on it quite a long time and almost forgets to keep me jingling.

Now my mistress rises rather early and her first joy is assisting at Mass if she is able; if not, well, the King always manages to come and see her.

After all these years they're pretty good friends by now. After Mass, she settles down and looks forward to the coming day, which is a full one. We two have quite a time together. Don't ask me how, but she can dust, mend and even write letters without making me leave my comfortable home. Yes, I repeat I'm not an ordinary pair of beads. Now in the afternoon we usually go visiting the other shepherdesses, who have tiny rooms just like my mistress. Many of them just come and stay a little while; and after the excellent and loving care of two shepherdess doctors, (who could heal the devil if they ever got hold of him) they go back to the field to continue their watch over the King's “sheep.” Oh, what fun and joy these shepherdesses have when they get together and talk about their years spent in the open field. What things they have seen and they could talk forever about their wonderful experiences. In fact, I guess the day is just about over now. But there will be another day just like this one and another and another until finally one day, my shepherdess will slip off to be forever with the King over Whose flock she watched so faithfully, and will I jingle with joy that day!

Sister Mary Ruth slipped off forever on August 5, 1951. Rev. Gilbert Henniger was chaplain at the time, and he probably said the Mass for her funeral. Sister's grave is in Row 2 No. 13"

Another sheet says the following:

SISTER MARY RUTH VICK August 27, 1882 - August 5, 1951 Sister Mary Ruth was born in Greenville, Ky., the daughter of Sebastian Vick and Nancy Whanger-Vick. She was baptized October 15, 1904, and given the name Blanche. She entered the novitiate April 27, 1914, and received the habit December 30, 1914. She pronounced vows July 16, 1917, 1918, 1920 and 1923.

Her two missions: St. Joseph, Owensboro, Ky. 16 months; Mt. St. Joseph 1921 until her death August 5, 1951. At the Mount she was in charge of the little girls in grade school. (See Sister Amanda Rose Mahoney's poetie (sic) writing on “The Beads of Whisper From the Sick Room” that gives you a small glance into the life of Sister Mary Ruth, and her devotion to the Rosary.

There is also the following information on below the above:

Name Sister Mary Ruth Vick
Entered Novitiate Year 1914 Mar 26, Age 31
Received Habit Dec 30, 1914
Profession July 16 1917
Left Novitiate for First Mission 1919 - 1921
First Mission Place St Josephs School Owensboro, Time Sixteen Months Final Vows July 16 1923
Place Time
Mt St. Joseph Motherhouse 1921 1943 -51

The following appeared in The Owensboro Messenger on August 7, 1951, in the obituary section under the title “Sister Mary Ruth Vick”:

Sister Mary Ruth Vick, 68, Maple Mount, died at 12:30 a.m. Sunday after an illness of several months. She was born in Muhlenberg County on Aug. 7, 1882, and is survived by several nieces and nephews.

Funeral services will be held at 9:30 a. m. today at the Chapel at Maple Mount, conducted by the Msgr. Gilbert Henninger. Burial will be in Maple Mount cemetery.

Do you have an unusual Vicks in your family tree? If so, please tell me their story.

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