MONCKS CORNER—While many 22-year-olds are worrying about graduating from college and what the next step in their life should be, Mary Kathleen Ruddy is trying to figure out the best way to help others.
“I know I’m called to serve,” she said, “but how is the question.”
Ruddy recently graduated from Charleston Southern University with a degree in biology and has been accepted into the Peace Corps. She leaves on Feb. 9 for Uganda.
Ruddy grew up in Moncks Corner, the only daughter of Drew and Patricia Ruddy. She has one brother. She is active in her parish, Immaculate Conception Church in Goose Creek, where she is an extraordinary minister of holy Communion, has helped with vacation Bible school and is a young adult group leader. Ruddy attributes some of her drive to her mother, a former religious sister.
“I have gotten a lot from the church so I want to give back,” Ruddy said in an e-mail to The Miscellany.
Though eager for her daughter to follow her dream, Ruddy says her mother has some concerns.
“She has run the whole gamut of emotions,” Ruddy said. “She knows that she has prepared me to succeed, but the other side is I’ll be all alone in the foreign country.”
Ruddy once considered a religious vocation, but decided her calling was in the Peace Corps.
“It is good to see a lay person who is living their faith, it can be more effective to see a lay person living their faith,” she said.
In Uganda, she will be assigned to a community where she will be a secondary science teacher, help train teachers, provide HIV/AIDS education and work on community development.
Lois Masouris, Ph.D., the adult programs coordinator at Immaculate Conception, thinks the young woman will be a blessing to the Peace Corps.
“She will be an uplift to all the people she comes in contact with,” Masouris said in a telephone interview. “She is in union with the Lord. He is a big part of her life and I think she sees this as an opportunity to bring Christ to everyone she meets.”
Masouris said Ruddy draws people in with her personality and her faith.
“Her total trust in the Lord is what makes a difference in her life and the lives of everyone who comes in contact with her,” she said.
Other parishioners have seen Ruddy live her faith in different ways.
“Mary Kathleen is wonderful with the children. She has a gentle nature that is rare in women her age. I have two daughters who both adore her. She never raises her voice, but the children listen anyway,” Karen Durand said in an e-mail.
Durand is the vacation Bible school coordinator and sees Ruddy as someone who is always smiling and bringing smiles to others.
“She is at Mass every Sunday and carries herself gracefully,” Durand said. “Mary Kathleen has a quiet faith. She doesn’t flaunt her beliefs, but her love of God is just a part of who she is. I know she feels called to serve and is a role model to all.”
Ruddy doesn’t just affect the lives of adults. Durand asked her daughters, ages 9 and 11, about their opinion of Ruddy. They said she was sweet, inspiring, and that she always finds time to show her Christianity and serve God.
“I can honestly say that Mary Kathleen isn’t meant for anything else,” Durand said. “God has given her many gifts and I think she just feels compelled to use them in the best way that she can.”