2013 Jubilarian – Mary Ellen (Bernard Marie) Loren

Jble LorenSister Mary Ellen Loren had never seen an IHM prior to college night in high school. She says, “I didn’t even like nuns, and I dropped out of religious ed.”

She wanted a college with strong journalism and Latin programs, but couldn’t find one at college night. As she was leaving, she spotted  Marygrove’s sign. There was no one in the room but the representative. After talking to her, Marygrove became Sister Mary Ellen’s college of choice. Her parents were amazed – a Catholic college with nuns!

Prior to Marygrove, she lived in Italy for a year with her family, finishing high school by correspondence. She felt a sense of urgency to get back and attend Marygrove. Her parents went to live in Turkey and Sister Mary Ellen returned and started college.

There was something she couldn’t articulate that the IHM Sisters had – and she wanted. She joined the community after one year at Marygrove. When she entered, “I didn’t know whether I would stay 60 seconds or 60 years but I knew I had to try. Even the nuns at Marygrove gave me only six weeks, because I was in so much trouble. I mean I had fun.”

Although she specifically requested not to teach first grade, Sister Mary Ellen’s first mission was teaching first grade at St. Joseph, Monroe.  She came to love it and was good at it. She taught second grade at Holy Redeemer and in Hollywood, Fla., where she also taught junior high. She found herself back at Holy Redeemer as the director of religious education for the parish, and then she taught English at Marygrove. Over the summers, she completed her master’s degree in education with a specialty in religious ed.

My whole idea of God has changed from being the judge to being a presence, always a companion, always with me.
- Mary Ellen Loren, IHM

In addition to teaching at Marygrove, Sister Mary Ellen worked there as a writing assistant. She read and edited papers for students in all programs and did her own research in order to do the papers justice. “I loved it because it was such a challenge. The students had to write for people to understand it. Simplicity was the key.”

Her greatest joys in the IHM community are her sense of unity and belonging and the inspiration she receives from others. When things got tough, she relied on the camaraderie.

She never considered herself to be too “religiony” when she arrived. Being part of the community has deepened her faith and deepened her sense of God’s presence.  “God is there for me. He won’t take anything away. He’ll see me through.”

Currently, Sister Mary Ellen writes the Rememberings for sisters and offers a ministry of support to staff at the Motherhouse. As she recalls the “something” the nuns at Marygrove had, she says, “There was a sense of peace and there was joy. They were an inspiration to me. I’m still getting it. We are never finished.”