By Willona Sloan
Alumnae Feature by Cathedral High School
Celebrating National Catholic Sisters Week 2019
For Sr. Nancy Kellar, SC ’58, whose three older sisters had attended Cathedral, the high school was the obvious choice. She loved Cathedral, and her history classes were her favorite. Sr. Nancy went on to study history in college, and she earned a master’s degree in European history.
In 1960, she entered the Sisters of Charity, taking the name Sr. Miriam Elizabeth. She began her teaching ministry by teaching 7th grade in St. Anthony’s in the Bronx. After four years there, she was delighted to receive an exciting new assignment: Cathedral High School.
Nine years after she graduated, she returned to Cathedral as a teacher, where she taught history classes for freshmen and sophomore students. “I always tried to make the classes interesting—not just give them dates and facts that were dry and dull, but tell them some of the wonderful stories,” says Sr. Nancy.
She had enjoyed being on the cheerleading squad as a student, and she became the moderator for the cheerleaders on her return. She even taught the girls how to twirl the baton.
Sr. Nancy had been teaching at Cathedral for four years, when she went on a spiritual retreat, where she heard the speakers talking about the Holy Spirit empowering them and giving them gifts for service.
“At that point, the Holy Spirit was a kind of a vague notion out somewhere, but that weekend I prayed for a new Pentecost, a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit. It changed my life,” says Sr. Nancy.
She felt called to evangelize, to work full time preaching and teaching about Jesus. Sr. Nancy tells the story: “That was confirmed one night, when I had a parents meeting, and I started talking to the parents about teaching the New Testament in my homeroom religion classes. There was a deep quiet. I felt a new anointing, the people ‘were cut to the heart,’ as at the first Pentecost. Something in me said, ‘I need to be talking to the parents. I need to be talking to adults about the Gospel.’”
With the blessing of the Mother General of the Sisters of Charity at that time, she left Cathedral in 1971 to begin doing retreat work at the same House of Prayer she recently had attended. In 1975, she helped found St. Elizabeth Seton House of Prayer in Scarsdale, N.Y., where she continues to live and minister.
In addition to leading retreats at the House of Prayer, she has traveled to 48 states, giving retreats and speaking at conferences. She also has served on National and International Councils for the Charismatic Renewal.
“I have been to 63 countries around the world, doing what I love,” says Sr. Nancy. Her book, There’s Always More, has been printed a number of times and translated into different languages.
Along the way, she has learned some incredible lessons. “I have learned that the Lord uses the poor and the broken vessels as an instrument,” says Sr. Nancy.
“So often, when I was called to do a retreat, I would be suffering from a migraine headache, feeling, ‘I’m not up to this,’” says Sr. Nancy. “When I responded to the call, I experienced what we always believed, ‘God anoints us for what he appoints us to’. I experienced the strength to do it, and the anointing of the Holy Spirit as I spoke. I knew that it wasn’t me.”
Wherever her journey has taken her, Sr. Nancy has stayed connected to Cathedral. Most recently, when she attended her 60th reunion at Cathedral, she won the 50/50 raffle of $600. “I had an inkling (again, the Holy Spirit), that I was going to win it, and that I was supposed to give it back to the alumni association for the school,” says Sr. Nancy. She says she was happy to contribute because she feels it is important to make the Cathedral experience available to young women for many years to come.
She recently ran into one of her former Cathedral students, and the conversation touched her heart. “[She said], ‘Sr. Nancy, I remember you loved us.’ It meant so much to me that, that’s what they picked up—that I loved them. I still do,” she says.
On behalf of of the Our Lady of Good Counsel Class of 1954 and all the classes before and after we congratulate Nancy Kellar and take great pride in the fact that we shared those eight years with her.
Sister Nancy is a shining example of the result of the quality of education ministered by the Sisters of Charity since they opened our former school in 1905 and served the children of the parish until the Order was weeded out in the late 1970s.
We last saw Nancy at a dinner-dance in 2011 where other OLGC girls who had entered the Sister of Charity and other orders were excluded. Another 1954 classmate picked her up on his way from Connecticut and later drove her home. Nancy Kellar charmed all in attendance.
As school after school after school is closed in the city, thousands of children are being denied the opportunity to follow in Nancy’s footsteps and attempt to equal her achievements.
She continues her ministry today and we are so glad to know her.
ad multo annos, Sister Nancy
Philip Wilson, OLGC Class of 1954
Thanks to Cathedral HS for this great story. Sr. Nancy is a great woman who has lived the mission of Charity and spread the word of God’s love to many thousands of people – literally, all across the world. Nancy, we are proud of you and grateful for the gifts you so generously share!
Hi Sister Nancy,
I graduated from OLGC in 1954 and Phil Wilson passed this along as he does with all 1954 graduates.
You have had a wonderful career and to this day I always think about how fortunate I was to be taught by the Sisters of Charity.
Three years after graduation we moved to Boston and I still live here. If it wasn’t for Phil I would haveost contact with just about everyone but I do think we met a few years ago in Astoria at the event Phil helped organize. Did Tommy Gilmartin pick you up that day because I was one of the passengers?
I hope the Sisters of Charity don’t fade away like so many Orders have in the past.
I wish you the best in your work which is needed today just as much as it was needed more than 60 years ago.
Correcting a mild misstatement in Bobby O’Connell’s post:
Phil Wilson did not help organize the 22011 dinner-dance. He provided mailing addresses for the Class of 1954 and others and arranged with Tom Gilmartin for the transportation of Nancy Kellar.
Had Phil Wilson been an organizer of the event, we would not have refused to invite the additional living members of the Sisters of Charity who had graduated from OLGC and we would have not refused to invite the living members of the Sisters of Charity who had taught at OLGC.
His focus would have been all-inclusive.
Philip Wilson, Class of 1954
It was wonderful to read the great article about you, Who knew where we were all going to wind up. You certainly did a lot with your life. Congratulations Pat McMackin Schwartz
Nancy, always proud of my name sake and the article was alive with good news
Happy to read about Nancy who had spread the good news
Worldwide. Abundant Blessings & thank YOU for YOUR WItness
Sister Nancy(Miriam Elizabeth at the time) inspired me in 7th grade at St Anthony. Best wishes for continued success ~~Hanora Carney Sarro