Mary Katherine Hammett Celebrates Her 75th Jubilee
(Editor’s Note: The following are remarks on Mary Katherine Hammett given April 25, 2019, at the Motherhouse by her niece, Jane Hammett O’Gorman.)
By Jane Hammett O’Gorman
Mary Katherine’s younger brother, John “Johnny” Hammett, wasn’t able to travel from Kalispell, Mont., to attend MK’s jubilee. When asked to share some family stories about MK, Johnny and his wife, Lois, first wanted to congratulate MK on her 75th jubilee and to let her know how proud they are of her. They were with us in spirit on April 25 when we were able to join MK for this glorious celebration.
‘We all love her for her duty to the Lord, the Sisters of Loretto and wish her peace and eternal happiness.’– Jane Hammett O’Gorman
Surrounded by a loving family
MK was born on May 20, 1925, in Colorado Springs, Colo., to proud parents Katherine and Walter Hammett. Mary Katherine’s grandparents on both sides of her parents’ families were Irish immigrants.
As the Irish Catholic family grew, MK became the oldest of six children to Katherine and Walter.
She had four brothers and a sister. All have passed on except for her and her younger brother Johnny, third born in the family.
All six of the children had scarlet fever in November of 1935. The six children were quarantined in their home in Fort Collins, Colo., with a big sign on their front yard stating their affliction. Their father had to move out of the home for two weeks but would come by to wave to his children from the window.
Usual normal life from then on until one 4th of July. The family all went out to the country to light off fireworks. MK lit one and threw it but it fell out of her hand and landed on top of their car, which was a four-door 1930 Star car with a cloth top. Guess what? It blew a hole on the top of the car. Guess what? End of fireworks!
Usual normal life from then on until 1940s when MK was learning to drive. Going by the city park in Fort Collins she cut the corner too sharp and blew out the two front tires on the car. This was during WWII, and tires were rationed, so Dad wasn’t to happy but he didn’t blow his top! After that it was pretty much routine family life with six children, two parents and one bathroom.
MK has told us that she knew in second grade that she wanted to become a nun because she was so inspired by her teacher who was a nun at St. Joseph’s School and Church in Fort Collins.
Music an important part of MK’s life
Music has always been a huge part of MK’s life. Growing up, MK played the organ and piano. Her family was very musical. Dad played the violin, and four of her siblings all played a musical instrument. Her baby brother, James, was an avid tap dancer.
She was very active in her parish, playing the organ while her brothers all served Mass at St. Joseph Church. She taught.
Commitment to the Lord, Loretto
At 17 years of age MK made the first step in fulfilling her dream to become a Sister of Loretto. The family all piled into the car and drove to Denver and put her on the train bound for Nerinx, Ky., where she began her studies and commitment to the Lord and the Sisters of Loretto.
Following her retirement with her parish duties in California, MK went to work for a pipe company, working in administration. The other employees at the plant didn’t know that she was a nun, and she didn’t know what their religious background was, but they sure used Jesus’ name a lot.
Despite some issues with cars in her early years, MK grew to be a fabulous driver and traveler. She made many road trips solo to visit family and friends in Missouri, Colorado, Wyoming and Montana, while living in Texas and California. Fiercely independent and resilient, she enjoyed cruising solo on the freeways, through Death Valley and navigating big city traffic.
During one of her last summer visits to northwest Montana, we were out having lunch when our waiter appeared with an obscene word pasted across the front of his T-shirt. MK’s brother Johnny and wife, Lois, were appalled! MK in her smooth, calming and nonjudgmental voice simply stated, “This could be this man’s only shirt.” Those words I’ll never forget; they speak volumes to her core and mission statement.
We all have utmost respect for MK, her wisdom, strength, determination and her peaceful loving soul. We are eternally grateful for all she has taught us and shared with us.
We all love her for her duty to the Lord, the Sisters of Loretto and wish her peace and eternal happiness.
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