July 2011: SISTER MARETTA KURK
St. Francis of Assisi’s prayer “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace…where there is hatred, let me sew love; where there is injury, pardon” has been her inspiration. Through it, she has found joy and satisfaction.
Love of creation
Our Sister Maretta Kurk was born in Quincy, IL, on June 15, 1932, and named Norma Jean. She recalled how her parents, Clarence and Edith (Schaich), instilled in their four children a good work ethic, the importance of prayer, and the reminder to be charitable. She was raised on a farm and responsibilities included milking the cows, tending to the house, and being ready to be called upon for whatever was needed to be done. There were also light-hearted moments including barn dances with family and neighbors in the summer. Overall, her Franciscan roots have always been a part of her life, and life on the farm brought her closer to creation.
The majority of her primary education was in a one-room school house while her high school education was at Notre Dame High School, Quincy. During her senior year retreat, Father Leander’s message about prayer left an impression. “I hadn’t given much thought about religious life, but God was beginning to lead me,” she said. “I graduated from high school at the age of 17 and worked at a local drug store when I was 18.” “I then decided to visit to the Motherhouse, which was wonderful, and I found the Adoration Chapel to be so beautiful and peaceful. That was in May of 1951, and a few months later, I entered religious life. I thought to myself, ‘there’s nothing wrong with trying this.’”
Life of service
Her religious life has taken her to the Sister’s mission in Carthage, MO, and Monroe, LA, along with service here at the Motherhouse. Her life has been enriched by experiences and encounters with those she served and served with. “God is always leading us,” Sister Maretta said. “It’s in those quiet moments that God speaks. Be aware of this gift, and you’ll find peace.”
The Hospital Sisters of St. Francis founded St. Joseph’s Home for the Aged and Infirmed (Monroe, LA) in 1944 and transferred ownership in 1974. They also staffed Our Lady of the Ozarks Home Nursing Center from 1945-1977 and founded St. Anthony’s Kindergarten in 1949 and ceased providing services there in 1977 (both institutions were in Carthage, MO).