Charles Mary Burns, SCN

Posted by Kacie Emmerson

June 28, 2022

Charles Mary Burns, SCN, 86, (formerly Blanche Eleanor) was born in Louisville, Kentucky, on April 2, 1936. She died June 24, 2022, in Bardstown, Kentucky. She was a professed Sister of Charity of Nazareth for nearly 65 years.

She was one of ten children born to William Martin Burns and Mary Thelma Maratta Burns. The arrival of Sister Charles Mary and her fraternal twin brother (Paul, who passed in 1981) added two more at once to the family. Two of her sisters also joined the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. Her sister, Jean, who withdrew after 18 years, and her sister Mary, who joined in 1947 and was a Sister of Charity of Nazareth until she died in 2017.

Known for her big smile, personality, and perfect bourbon balls, Sister Charles Mary studied elementary education at Spalding College in Louisville, where she earned a master’s degree. From 1957 to 1967, she taught primary grades in Tennessee and Ohio, and in 1967, she became the principal at St. Joseph School in Ohio, where she served for five years. She spent many years at Spalding College as a headteacher of preschool and special types of education.

From 1981 to 1983, Sister Charles Mary was a clerk and switchboard operator at Metropolitan Lincoln/Mercury in Louisville. She had experience in this field as her late father owned Burns Motor Company. Growing up, she spent many summers there helping out.

Following a year-long sabbatical, Sister Charles Mary served her religious community in Community Services at Nazareth Home. She later served as director of transportation at the Motherhouse in Nazareth, Kentucky, a position she held for ten years.

From 1992 to 1996, Sister Charles Mary served at St. Jerome Parish at Fancy Farm, Kentucky, where she was a pastoral associate and coordinator of the senior citizen ministry.

Sister Charles Mary spent many years volunteering in health care and social services. She served at Hospice in Paducah, Kentucky; Owensboro, Kentucky; and Nelson Co., Kentucky. She also served as a volunteer at The Caring Place in Lebanon, Kentucky.

She is survived by her extended family and her religious community, the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth.

There was no viewing or wake upon Sister’s request. The Funeral Mass was Friday, July 1, at 10:30 a.m. in the Columba Room with burial to follow in the Nazareth Cemetery. 

Funeral Arrangements were handled by Houghlin Greenwell Funeral Home, 1475 New Shepherdsville Road, Bardstown, Kentucky 40004. Memorials may be offered to the Office of Mission Advancement, P.O. Box 9, Nazareth, Kentucky, 40048.



  1. Anne Gardino

    Sister Charles Mary was our first grade teacher in 1958! She was a young nun with a contagious smile but very stern manner as she had 50 1st graders in our class! She had a big laugh and a big heart! She left Holy Rosary School in Memphis and we reunited one day when she came into my classroom–I was now the teacher–and surprised me. It only took a moment to realize who had just walked into my room! She no longer wore the black habit but I swiftly knew that amazing smile! My husband and I met in that 1st grade class and have been married almost 50 years. We have fond memories of our very first experience in school with Sister Charles Mary.
    Rest in the peace of the Lord.

    • Sonya Lewis Stone

      She was my teacher in Spalding’s Preschool program. She was so nice and sweet. And she taught me so much. RIP.


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