“Finish college first,” Kathleen McMullen’s parents told her, “before making any big life decisions.” And while becoming a Sister wasn’t at the top of her list at the College of Notre Dame, when she graduated Kay knew intuitively the path she wanted to take. “I saw all these happy, positive women who were doing significant things with their lives…that’s what I wanted.”
After receiving her bachelor’s degree in music, Sister Kay taught elementary grades in Notre Dame schools in Salinas, Chico, Carmel, Yuba City, Belmont and in Washington state. In 1979 her work shifted from teaching to working on social justice and women’s issues in both Washington, D.C., and San Francisco, including working for the Commission on Social Justice for the San Francisco Archdiocese.
But it was Sr. Kay’s AIDS work that proved to be a defining ministry for her. She volunteered with the Monterey County AIDS Project in the late 1980s and later was on the staff of John XXIII HIV/ AIDS Services. In addition to doing AIDS education and peer counseling, she frequently accompanied those who were dying. Whether she was cooking a meal, talking about spiritual things, or just sitting by a bedside, she says, “I learned not to allow my own beliefs get in the way of their journey.”
An avid gardener and poet (many of her poems can be found on this website), Sr. Kay also assists in Development office at the Province Center.