Meet Sister Kevin Irwin


S. Kevin Irwin

Foreign Language League Identification card as counselor for MMC group on our way to Spain.

Before I became a Sister…

My family and I lived on a farm about 5 miles from Rockham, SD and St. Mary’s Church & School in Zell, SD, which is about 10 miles away. The Benedictine Sisters were in charge of the school. I saw the Sisters every Sunday at Mass and they looked pretty stern to me. When I was in the 4th grade in our country school (about a mile from our home) we got a new pastor who told the parish that he expected all the children to go to St. Mary’s School. That would mean we would have to be “boarders” and that would mean we would stay at the school from Monday morning until Friday at 4 or 8:30 p.m. after mom finished choir practice! An interesting thing is that my mother, who came from Agar, SD had gone there to school and had the same teacher, S. Lidwina, as I had. I loved going there to school and soon realized that not all the Sisters were stern and strict. We had Mass every morning in the convent chapel and we sang for every funeral in the parish church. We had two study halls each day and in addition to our regular classes, we had catechism questions and bible history stories.

How I became a Sister…

During my time in Zell, SD there was a pastor, Fr. Durkin who was very vocation minded and gave a homily about vocations at least once a month. He would come over to school and say “I think you should have the name Sister… (some strange foreign saint).” I had my first thoughts of being a nun because of him. At the same time the Sisters would tell me I should pray for a religious vocation. I would say a Hail Mary once in a while so that if they asked me if I was praying I could say “yes”. When we were confirmed I remember the Bishop asked how many of us were going to become Sisters. My mom said I looked around at all the girls who raised their hands and I would raise mine a bit and pull it down again!

S. Kevin Irwin

Beginning Experience Team conducting a weekend for divorced, separated and widowed individuals, designed to allow people to work through the emotions of losing a spouse.

By the time I graduated from St. Mary’s the Rockham High School had closed. Notre Dame in Mitchell was the nearest Catholic High School.

Quite the Visit!

I think God heard the prayers of the Sisters when we got a call telling us that two Sisters from Yankton would be coming out to our farm to tell us about Mount Marty High School. Thinking back I remember it clearly because Mom was working out in a field, dad was busy with something in the barn and it was my day to prepare the noon dinner! That day I had made a pudding dessert that fit in five little dishes—for the five of the family. I told my two sisters that they would have to give up their desserts for the two nuns, St. Theresa and Fortunata, who would be with us for dinner.

It did not take my dad long to be convinced that MMHS would be the best place for me, especially after they offered me a scholarship.

A Priest spoke to me though a retreat

When I was a sophomore at Mount Marty High School, during our annual retreat, the priest director talked about vocations. He said that if we had a good sense of humor, good health, moderate intelligence, good will, and I’m sure there was something about a relationship with God, that we probably had a vocation to religious life. Well, I thought I about that and decided, much to my amazement, that I had those qualities. The priest told me I should talk to my parents. I told my mom and she said it was just fine but I had to wait until I graduated from high school. Whew, what a relief! I must admit that I did not look forward to being a Sister and deep down I hoped some guy would ask me to marry him before I graduated, but at the end of my senior year I had an interview with Mother Jerome Schmitt. She gave me the registration form and a list of what I should bring and said she would see me in the fall. So I entered Sacred Heart Convent in September 1947.

S. Kevin Irwin

Sisters lined up for a special meal. I’m in charge!

Sister Kevin Irwin Ministries

My ministries have been varied and interesting and most of them were exciting. I have had many opportunities to grow intellectually, psychologically, spiritually and I am truly grateful for these ministries and experiences: elementary, high school and college teaching, parish organist and choir director, counselor, and team member for various ministries.

S. Kevin Irwin

S. Louise Marie and I at Katrina’s graduation from USD ( I’ve know her since she was little)

During these 60 plus years in Sacred Heart Monastery there have been many changes in society, the Church, and religious life. Most of the changes have been exciting and the challenges that have matched them have provided great opportunities for growth. Praying the Liturgy of the Hours and Mass in English, the changes of our habits and living in small groups have all been great blessing for me. The constant in my life during these years has been knowing that God loves me and God’s invitation to me has been St. Benedict’s admonition to seek God at all times…

Sister Kevin Irwin


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