2014 Jubilarian – Audrey (Vinciana) Bushell

Bushell, AudreySister Audrey Bushell got to know the IHM Sisters while she attended St. Rose Elementary and High Schools in Detroit.

She told her brother, Pat, the day before he was to leave for the Air Force that she planned to join the IHM community. “The news had not been out as yet,” she says. Her brother told her he’d pay her a quarter a week if she stayed.

When Sister Audrey celebrated her Golden Jubilee in 1994, “I was presented with the check for $4,269.37 – 51 years at 25 cents a week with six percent [interest] compounded annually.” Pat told her the check was from the “Jimmy and Tammy Bakker Savings and Loan Association of South Carolina; given the Bakkers’ bankruptcy, the check could not be cashed.”

Luckily, Sister Audrey had other rewards.

She began her lifelong ministry of teaching not long after her reception as an IHM, a ministry that spanned 49 years. She spent most of those years teaching in Michigan, although she also served in Chicago, first teaching seventh and eighth grade at St. Felicitas and then teaching seventh and eighth grades – while also serving as principal – at St. Rene.

After 10 years in Chicago, Sister Audrey returned to teach junior high school in Monroe, Detroit and Wyandotte. She made the switch to high school in 1970 when she began ministering at St. Mary of Redford, teaching religion, art and clothing. This was followed by 15 years at Brother Rice High School in Bloomfield Hills, teaching art and ministering in the language lab.

One of her students from Rice described Sister Audrey as, “an excellent role model … a person of lasting impact on all who came into contact with her.” He went on to say, “She taught me to care for people … to act positively all the time because a negative attitude toward another person could bring that person down so that neither of us would be living up to our potential.”

It’s no wonder then that Sister Audrey was honored as “Teacher of the Year” by the Catholic Association of Secondary Administrators or that she received the Edmund Ignatius Rice Medallion, an honor bestowed on distinguished educators by the Christian Brothers of the Western American Province.

When Sister Audrey retired at the end of the 1992-93 school year, Brother Rice News Notes reported that “Sister’s talents and experience have contributed immeasurably to the art program … Our students will probably best remember her with the humorous sign that has hung in the art room for so many years: ‘Clean up your mess, I’m not your mother!’”

Following her “retirement” Sister Audrey worked in the IHM Archives, first as a staff member and then as a volunteer. She quotes the prophet, Jeremiah in her Book of Life page, “The Loving One says, ‘When you call me, I will listen to you. Yes, when you seek me with all your heart you will find me with you.’”