Consecrated Life

Calling on Mary: Presentation Sisters look to the Blessed Mother in good times and bad

By Jessica Trygstad


Sister Kay O’Neil (left) and Sister Michelle Meyers are Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Aberdeen, SD. They live in LeSueur.


A statue of Mary is seen in 2011 outside St. James Church in Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina. CNS/Paul Haring

The Catholic SpiritSisters Michelle Meyers and Kay O’Neil, Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, begin and end each day with prayers for Mary’s intercession.

They rely on the Blessed Mother throughout the day, too. “Our car runs on gas and Hail Marys,” Sister Kay said. The sisters, former professors at St. Mary’s University of Minnesota in Winona who live in LeSueur and still present on peace and justice issues, see Mary as a role model for women of any age.

As a young girl, Sister Kay’s devotion to Mary included deal-making. When on the brink of adolescent trouble she would say, “Mary, if you get me out of this one . . . .” But jokes aside, “From my childhood to my life as a Presentation Sister . . . Mary has always been there as mother of Jesus and one who helps me through a car crash, cancer, family alcoholism, and hope in my prayer and work for peace and justice,” said Sister Kay, who looked to her mother, “a strong woman,” to get to know Mary as a strong woman.

Sister Michelle has childhood memories of praying the rosary with her family and also credits her mother with teaching her about Mary.

“I certainly learned it

[devotion to Mary] from my mother. She really relied on Mary,” she said. “But our sisters, too, have a strong devotion to Mary.”
That devotion is part of what attracted Sister Michelle to the Presentation Sisters’ congregation.

One of Sister Michelle’s favorite titles is Mary, Queen of Peace because she said she strives YCL_logo“to be a peaceful person and live in a peaceful environment.” Sister Michelle is an active member of Pax Christi USA, a national organization working for peace and justice.

In her interactions with non-Catholics, Sister Kay said she realizes how blessed Catholics are to have Mary, whom the Church especially honors each May. “Protestants don’t have that strong woman in their tradition, so it’s been fun to share her with others,” she said.

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May 21, 2015 • The Catholic Spirit