Sister Sylvester Shea, 1916-2000

Born May 25, 1916, Carlisle, Kentucky
Entered St. Walburg Monastery, Covington, Kentucky, December 23, 1933
Received habit, August 13, 1934
First Profession August 14, 1935
Died July 5, 2000

Sr. Sylvester was born in Carlisle, Kentucky on May 25, 1916 to Robert and Laura Woodall Shea and given the name Myrtle. She was the second oldest of six children in the Shea family. There was an infant who died at birth. On December 23, 1933 Myrtle became a postulant at St. Walburg Monastery and received the habit and her new name, Slyvester, on August 13, 1934. She made first profession on August 14, 1935 and perpetual profession on August 14, 1938.

From 1926 until 1972 Sr. Sylvester (right in the picture) taught in the following schools staffed by Benedictine Sisters: Holy Cross, Latonia; St. Therese, Southgate; St. Anthony, Forest Hills; Sts. Peter and Paul, Twelve Mile, KY; St. Paul, Florence; St. Patrick, LaJunta, CO; All Saints, Walton; Sts. Peter and Paul, Danville, KY and St. Joseph, Crescent Springs. From 1972 to 1976 ill health prevented her from returning to the classroom, but in 1977 she found a new way to exercise her teaching skills. After the Vietnam War large numbers of immigrants from that country came to Covington under the aegis of Msgr. Thomas Finn and Catholic Social Services. Sr. Sylvester took special courses to help her teach the adult members of the Vietnamese community to speak, write and read in English. No Vietnamese celebration was ever complete without her. Sr. Sylvester liked to drive and often took herself to the homes of her pupils or to Catholic Social Services. In later years many of these friends relocated to other parts of the country, but Sr. Sylvester always maintained contact.

For years illness was no stranger to Sr. Sylvester. Many times she appeared close to death but she always seemed to come through on sheer determination and enthusiasm for life and people. No account would be complete without mention of her deafness. She wanted to KNOW–whether with hearing aid or notepad. It was hard for her–and for those attempting to communicate. She was a voracious reader; often she would be asleep in her chair, a book open on her lap. A familiar site in the courtyard was Sr. Sylvester in her red hat (above right) with Sr. Felicitas (above left) both sitting with books in their laps. Sr. Sylvester died on Wednesday, July 5, 2000.