Meet Sister Katherine Nelson

Educated by Sisters from an early age, Katherine dreamt of becoming a Sister herself one day.  By high school, the dream faded and she got caught up in studies, clothes and boys! But a still, small voice pierced her conscience. “Becoming a Sister was something I felt I HAD to do,” she remembers.  In 1950 she entered the novitiate.

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In later years, Sister enjoyed teaching English as a second language.

In the early years, Sr. Katherine taught English, French, religion, speech and drama classes in middle grades and high schools throughout California–from Sacred Heart Elementary in Salinas, to St. Joseph’s Elementary in San Jose to Bishop Conaty High School in Los Angeles. Alvira Chargin, a former student of Sr. Katherine’s shares, “I became a secure, self-confident woman thanks to Sr. Katherine and the Sisters of Notre Dame!” From 1966-1971 Sister served as the principal at St. Charles School, San Carlos, and particularly enjoyed working with a dedicated faculty and with the parents in the sacrament preparation of their children.

After completing a master’s degree in applied theology, her focus shifted for the next two decades to religious education. For six years during this time she served as a religious education consultant, then Director of Religious Education for the Diocese of Sacramento working in catechist and lay ministry formation. Though it’s been decades since that job, Sister’s recollections of it remain keen. “I loved that job. We had a great staff and wonderful, supportive Bishop, providing opportunities to visit parishioners all over northern California.”

In 1992 she became a certified E.S.L. teacher and began teaching some of the most hard-working students of her career. “They came from all over the globe and were so motivated to learn English.”  One day she ran into a former student in a grocery store. The woman, originally from Bosnia, came to Sr. Katherine’s class with no English skills. Today the woman has her own accounting business and credits Sister with laying the foundation of her success.

Recently retired, Sr. Katherine serves as a substitute E.S.L. teacher and is mentoring a woman who is exploring the possibility of becoming a Sister.