IN THE NEWS: Sister Evelyn Hurley Interviewed

Posted by Kacie Emmerson

March 27, 2024

By Katelyn Norris | The Kentucky Standard

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For the last 90 years, Sister Evelyn Hurley has dedicated her life to serving and caring for others. On March 7, Hurley celebrated her 109th birthday. 

Getting to be 109 is quite the accomplishment; Hurley seems to think so. She said she has been blessed by God to live a life as long as she has. She said there are no aches or pains and can’t remember a time when she was sick in her life at all. “I don’t know if ever in my life (I) had a headache,” she said. 

However, Hurley’s journey into the SCN community doesn’t begin as many would imagine. In 1932, Hurley surprised her whole family by announcing she would be taking vows to become a Sister of Charity.

“Even my family did not know it until about two weeks before I left,” she said. “It was a big surprise to many people.”

Hurley grew up in South Boston in Massachusetts, being taught by Sisters of Charity of Nazareth from fifth grade to high school at Nazareth School. She said she grew to admire many of her teachers, saying they made great examples. In some way, she said, they inspired her down the path she took for the rest of her life.

Hurley completed her time in formations at the Motherhouse in Nelson County. In 1933, she received her habit and the following year she would go on to teach at LaSalette Academy in Covington, Ky.

Education was Hurley’s ministry and while at LaSalette Academy, she taught first and second grade, something that would continue for the next 60 years of her education career. Six years later, Hurley would go on to teach at St. Agnes School in Louisville and in 1947 she was located in Clarksdale, Mississippi, teaching at St. Elizabeth School. However, in 1950 — almost 20 years after she left — Hurley found herself back in South Boston teaching at Nazareth School. She was happy to be home.

“I’ll tell you one thing I miss down here is the ocean,” she said. “There was something about that ocean that I loved. You could walk along the water edge and completely forget your problems, and of course, I think growing up I lived very close to the water.”

For the next 60 years, Hurley would spend her time in South Boston teaching at Nazareth School and St. Brigid School. At age 80, she said she knew it was time to retire after a long career in education and molding the minds of many children.

“I love teaching,” she said, now 30 years after her retirement. “I love teaching the primary grades. To me, every day was like a new day. I never ever got tired of it. But it was only when I got to be 80 that I thought, well, I should just kind of withdraw on my own without being told that I should ease out.” After her retirement, she has still a very active part of the community, volunteering at Marian Manor Nursing Home and St. Brigid Convent.

In 2014, Hurley found herself back where her journey with the SCN community began, the Motherhouse. For the last decade, she said she has drawn back on all of her excursions, but still continues to be as dutiful as ever, helping out whenever she can.

In April, Hurley will be celebrated for 90 years as a Sister of Charity alongside others in the Rainbow Jubilee Celebration. Beyond her accomplishments in education and her dedication to SCN, Hurley is known for her incredible kindness and memory. For her birthday, she received a large box filled to the brim with birthday cards, some from former students, and many of whom she could recall where she taught them and where they were seated in class. She has read every single card. She said she had read the final card just the other day, nearly two weeks after her milestone birthday.

She keeps in correspondence with old friends from South Boston, sending letters to each other, although she remarked this is sometimes unreliable due lost and delayed mail. She said she is very close with her nieces and nephews, who also came to Kentucky for her birthday, calling them frequently on the phone.

Reflecting back on 109 years is difficult for Hurley, but she stays very humble about her widely accomplished life. Between her years in education to volunteer work to her personal trips to Ireland, she has many moments in her life.

When asked what she was proud of, she said she could not recall a moment and that she had a lot to choose from.

“Well, if God permits me to keep on going, I will be very, very happy,” she said. “And so far, He has been exceptionally good to me.”

2 Comments

  1. S. Rita Davis, SCN

    Evie is always a joy to be with!

    Reply
  2. Basanti Lakra

    I enjoyed thoroughly reading Sr. Hurley’s interview. Congratulations to you Sister on your 109th birthday! I am greatly inspired by your life and the connections you have kept up. God indeed is glorified by your life all the good deeds you have done, and you continue to do through your presence. We have a lot to learn from you. Bless us and pray for us.

    Reply

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