Sister Marie St. Barbara was born Kathleen Joan Connolly and baptized at St. Joseph Church in Somerville. She was one of nine children. Theirs was a happy home and when “Kay” began to sense her call to religious life, she asked her mother—who told her to ask her father—and they concluded that they were not good enough, not worthy, as parents, to have a child in religion. Well, Sr. Marie St. Barbara, the number seven child in the family, and Julie, the number nine child, both became Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur! When “Kay” was 16, her mother died. The ‘double sisters’—family and community—grew very close and now, eight years since Sister Julie ‘went home to God’, Sister Marie St. Barbara is the sole remaining sibling.
2021 marked Sister Marie St. Barbara’s 75th Jubilee, and she reported that through these many years her family remained close. When she was first professed, Sister Marie St. Barbara remembers riding from Waltham to Cambridge each morning to teach at Blessed Sacrament School. There, she became principal, and then at St. Paul’s in Hingham, she served as principal for 27 years—altogether, 35 years in administration.
Sister Marie St. Barbara recalls so many favorite memories, yet one rises to the top of her list. When her sister, Sister Julie, was dying, “Kay” was by her side and so many SNDdeNs came in to pray and say farewell. “They stood around her bed, some kissed her, some whispered in her ear, they patted her hand. They liked her very much and came to say good-bye.” When Sister Marie St. Barbara asked what was happening, the Sister nearby said, “Sister, she’s close to God right now and being with her means we are close to God.” That memory is retold with fondness and reverence.
When asked what she might say about the pandemic situation during her Jubilee year and how she managed during the phase of isolation, Sister Marie St. Barbara offered a practical and wise word. “We managed fine. We’re very well cared for and no one is sick.” So grateful for her life in Notre Dame and mindful of her large and supportive family, Sister celebrated her 75 years in religious life.
Sister Marie St. Barbara's Ministries
1949-54 Blessed Sacrament, Lawrence, Mass.
1954-57 St. Thomas, Peabody, Mass.
1957-58 St. Patrick School, Lowell, Mass.
1958-60 St. Michael, Hudson, Mass.
1960-62 St. Margaret, Beverly Farms, Mass.
1962-67 St. Gregory’s, Dorchester, Mass.
1967-75 St. Mary’s, Lynn, Mass (Principal)
1975-2002 St. Paul School, Hingham, Mass. (Principal)