Feature Story

Sister Ellen Keane is the Assistant Director of the Notre Dame Spirituality Center in Ipswich. In this role Sister Ellen wears many hats that include planning programs with Center Director, Sister Mary Boretti, serving as a Spiritual Director, and engaging in a lot of behind- the-scenes work to welcome people on their spiritual journey.

Many have had the opportunity to work with Sister Ellen at Notre Dame programs or meetings held at Ipswich, where she offers simple, thoughtful reflections that invite those present to pray in a safe, peaceful and contemplative atmosphere. These quiet moments give an indication of the many gifts she brings to her ministry.

Sister Ellen’s life began in Marlborough, Massachusetts, where she grew up with creative and fun loving parents, a sister and three brothers. She first met the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur in Hudson as a freshman in high school.

When Sister Ellen’s father got a promotion, the family moved to Stoneham. Heartbroken at having to leave St. Michael’s, her love of Notre Dame led her to St. Charles in Woburn. “I remember meeting with the Sister who was the principal of the high school. She looked at me and said that the junior class was filled. My heart initially sank and then leapt for joy as she added, with a smile that she thought they could find room for one more desk.”

Sister Ellen entered the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur after graduating from Emmanuel College. She taught Spanish and religion at Bishop Fenwick High School for nine and a half years. Experiencing a need to involve more students in after school activities, Ellen started a Drama Club at Fenwick, which produced several plays including The Wizard of Oz and Peter Pan. “The spirit among the students was magical. They worked so well together and used their gifts to make something special happen each time we undertook another play.” Sister Ellen then taught at Bishop Stang High School and Notre Dame Academy, Hingham. “I loved teaching as a way of drawing out the potential and gifts of the students.”

In 1981, she and Sister Pat Loome went to Kenya to establish a high school for girls in Kakamega, a rural part of the country. “Before going to Kenya my heart was deeply touched by Christ’s words in John’s Gospel, ‘I am going to prepare a place for you and I will come again to take you there, so that where I am you also may be.’ And he did! My years in Kenya were such a gift, a challenge and a privilege. I became in many ways ‘a student of the people and of the land I came to love.”

Returning to the US in 1993, Sister Ellen did a sabbatical and then completed a Master’s Degree in Pastoral Counseling at Loyola College in Maryland.

“When I returned to Massachusetts I completed the Associates program in Spiritual Direction at the Center for Religious Development in Cambridge and was invited to join the staff in training spiritual directors. I spent four wonderful years there.

Now I have the opportunity to serve at the Notre Dame Spirituality Center, which is a blessing and joy. The longer I live and the more involved I become in Spiritual Direction, the more aware I am of God’s gracious touch ever awakening, embracing and loving us into being.”

For more information on the Spirituality Center in Ipswich, Massachusetts go to www.ndspiritualitycenter.org