Paying it Forward
By Associate Angela Anno
What could have been a traumatic event for Associate Mary Lou Straw turned out to be a door to appreciating the ministry and spirit of women religious. While living at St. Aloysius Orphanage in Cincinnati, Ohio, for three years as a young girl, she found the Sisters of Charity she met there were kind, understanding, and loving women.
Later as an adult working with Girl Scouts at St. William, her home parish, Mary Lou had an opportunity to help girls much like her younger self grow in confidence, achieve goals, and mature. For 28 years she worked with the Scouts and for 38 years she helped them in the process of earning the Marian Award, the highest Catholic honor in Girl Scouting.
During that time she also developed a strong relationship with S. Claire Foken, a Sister of Charity at the parish who exhibited the same kindness and compassion that the Sisters she lived with many years before had shown her. It was through S. Claire that she became an Associate in Mission 25 years ago.
In many ways Mary Lou could identify with Mother Seton, who like herself was a widow with young children. Mary Lou’s husband died when her youngest was an infant and she raised six children on her own. Like Mother Seton she also reached out in service to others, not just in Girl Scouts but also in Christ Renews His Parish and by becoming a sponsor for new Catholics completing the RCIA program.
At 92, and as she celebrates her 25th year as an Associate in Mission, Mary Lou continues to live the SC mission, caring for others through prayer and by sharing with them the love and concern she experienced through the Sisters of Charity many years ago.