COLUMBIA—When Sister Maria Lovett first took vows with the Ursuline Sisters of Louisville on July 1, 1951, a new car cost $1,800 and a gallon of gas was 27 cents.
Prices have changed dramatically since then, but the sister’s devotion to her calling has not.
More than 200 family members, friends and former students attended a Mass and reception in honor of Sister Maria’s 60th jubilee at St. Joseph Church on June 5.
She has taught first and second grade at St. Joseph School for 40 years, and is one of the most recognizable and best-loved figures there. Legendary for her kickball pitching skills, she still participates in games on the playground.
Msgr. Richard D. Harris, vicar general for the diocese and pastor of St. Joseph, concelebrated the Mass with Sister Maria’s friend, Father Don Maroon from Ohio, and Father John Zimmerman, pastor of St. Anne Church in Florence and one of her former students.
In his homily, Msgr. Harris noted that Sister Maria is now teaching the grandchildren of some of her students and said she serves as a witness to the power of God.
Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone made a surprise visit and said he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to celebrate 60 years of dedicated service not only to the church but Catholic education.
“Over the years, I’m sure you saw in even the most difficult of students the presence of Jesus, and the need to make that presence strong and alive and well,” he said. “It’s obvious that people also allowed your goodness to touch them.”
“I’ve never regretted a moment, and not many people are fortunate enough to live life without regrets,” Sister Maria said during the reception. “What a wonderful way to serve God by being able to teach his children. I’m filled with joy today … I can see God all around me.”
She encouraged those who attended to remember her three favorite words, which she teaches to first graders as a good way to live life: “Love, sing, smile.”
“Working with her is like working with an institution, because she is so much a part of what St. Joseph School is,” said Rose Tindall, school principal. “She knows so much and is always energetic.”
Sister Maria was born in Columbia and lived much of her life there. She is one of eight children of the late Hopson and Elizabeth Lovett. She attended St. Peter School and Ursuline High School and entered the convent at age 18.
Members of the Lovett family gather once a month for a meal, and Sister Maria’s nieces and nephews say she is a regular. They consider her a matriarch and family leader.
“It’s amazing the lives she’s touched and the lives she’s won for Christ,” said nephew Charlie Sox of West Columbia.
(Photo/Christina Lee Knauss) Ursuline Sisters Julienne Guy, Maria Lovett and Andrea Callahan celebrate Sister Maria’s 60 anniversary at St. Joseph Church in Columbia on June 5.