Our Sister Mary Powers, baptized Margaret Mary, was born in St. Louis, Missouri, January 11th, 1932, the fifth child of Roy and Marguerite Powers. She graduated from high school having completed three years of Latin, an interesting fact since her religious vocation was clearly a call to the Lay Sisters, a status she chose to remain in until death. At age seventeen Sr. Mary was so certain that she wanted to serve Jesus in the most ordinary, obscure and laborious way possible that she wrote on the application form, “I am very anxious to become a Lay postulant soon.” And so it happened. She entered Mt. St. Mary’s Abbey, Wrentham, Massachusetts October 13, 1950, one year after its foundation.
Sr. Mary Immaculate, as she was named, loved the simplicity and prayerful atmosphere she found in her new family. She was quiet and reserved but very happy, receiving the brown habit of the Lay Sisters June 1, 1951. This was followed by Temporary Profession December 8, 1952, Final Profession December 8, 1955 and, when permission was given for the nuns of our Order to make Solemn Profession, she was in the large group that took that final step on the feast of the Sacred Heart, June 28, 1957.
There was plenty of hard work at Mt. St. Mary’s Abbey and Sr. Mary loved it, most especially caring for the cows. Brother Dominic, our Lay Brother from Spencer, taught her many important things about the barn operation and eventually she was put in charge, a very great responsibility which she carried well until we had to sell the herd in the late 1990s. To work with Sr. Mary in the barn was a particularly formative experience. She radiated purity of heart, quiet joy and deep prayerfulness. This, combined with her intelligent and respectful care for the animals and her total unselfishness, was so consistent that one could simply look at her and be reminded of what it meant to be a monk. We never called her by her full name, Mary Immaculate, but that name speaks so deeply of her inner and outer beauty.
After the herd was sold, an extremely painful decision for her, Sr. Mary spent several happy years in our founding house of Glencairn in Ireland where she helped with their cows. In 2007 she returned to us where we have had the joy of caring for her in her final years. She died as she lived, in complete simplicity and gentleness.