Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sentimental Sunday – Elizabeth Hanley – “My Mother the Nun”

This is another of my HANLEY family stories.  This one is about my Great Grand Aunt Elizabeth HANLEY, sister of Leo (father of The Baby in The Basket).

When Aunt Elizabeth was 13 she entered Sisters of Providence of St. Mary’s of The Woods in Terre Haute, Indiana in order to become a nun.  She really wanted to be a teacher but sometime between the age of 13 and 19 she got sick and lost most of her hearing.

Fearing that her dream would not come true she left the convent and worked as a maid in Detroit, Michigan.  When she was 36 she met Theodore HAYES, married him and had two sons. 

In the 1970’s, after her sons were grown and her marriage had ended, Aunt Elizabeth went back to the convent, took her vows and became Sister Virginia Clare.

She passed away in Detriot, Michigan in 1981.  


  1. That is an interesting tale,do you know how did the sons feel about their mother being a nun?

  2. Very interesting story. In our family we have two Roman Catholic nuns that eventually quit and both married. One married a priest, they later converted to Greek Orthodox, so he could return to the pulpit.

  3. What a neat story! My friend has a similar story to Carol. Her husband's was a nun and left to marry a man that was in the seminary! I always thought it was strange, but apparently it happened!

  4. I also have a high school friend who had a mother who was nun who left to marry his father who was a priest!

    I think the boys had a sense of humor about it. It was one of the boys at her funeral who told his friends who had never met Aunt Elizabeth, "this is my mother, the nun".....

  5. Wonderful story! We had a guest priest at my husband's church over Christmas who used to be a priest, left to marry and became an Episcopal minister, and then reconverted back to the Roman Catholic church. Then he became a priest again and stayed MARRIED because the church allows converted ministers to stay married if they become priests. You could have knocked us right off our pews, we were both surprised to hear this story- I'm protestant and Hubby's catholic! But there was his wife, sitting right in front of us at Mass.