Sister Mary Albertine Paulus was a Sister of Mercy for 73 years. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mathematics at Edgecliff College in Cincinnati and Peabody College in Nashville, Tennessee.
Untold numbers of elementary, high school, and college students received instruction from her in her 32-year teaching career in schools in Nashville, Memphis, and Knoxville, Tennessee, and Cincinnati and Toledo, Ohio. While serving as coordinator for St. Bernard Convent in Nashville, she began her close association with St. Mary’s Medical Center, Knoxville, as a board member in 1977.
In 1986, Sister Albertine was asked to serve the Diocese of Nashville as director of the RENEW parish renewal program. When that program ended in 1989, the bishop of the newly formed Diocese of Knoxville invited her to establish the Office of Evangelization, where RCIA programs implemented in each parish nurtured the faith of thousands of new Catholics throughout East Tennessee. She held this position until 2009.
Sister Albertine’s involvement with diocesan pilgrimages began as the Jubilee Year of 2000 approached, and Pope John Paul II encouraged Catholics to make a pilgrimage to Rome. Her experience leading student trips since 1971 and her keen organizational and teaching skills prepared her for a fruitful ministry of planning and coordinating more than 30 pilgrimages. Hundreds of people participated in journeys to the Holy Land as well as to Rome and Assisi, Ireland, Poland, Spain and Portugal, France, and shrines in Greece and Turkey.
The love of music was an integral part of Sister’s life. She began playing the organ in the fifth grade and became the parish organist at age 13. She planned the liturgy and played at numerous church, Mercy community, and diocesan gatherings, and she helped plan the music for the ordination of two of the bishops in Knoxville.
In recognition of her dedicated work in areas of evangelization, Sister Albertine received the prestigious honor of the Cross Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice, which means “for church and pontiff,” in 2006.
At her diocesan retirement in 2009, Sister Albertine said she didn’t plan to dwell on her legacy. “We all do what we can while we’re here on this earth. It’s about doing the best you can while you have the chance. After that, it’s all in the Lord’s hands because it’s his work, not ours.”
There was something indomitable about Sister Albertine—smart, open-hearted, generous. She was a servant, single-minded in doing the good God called her to do. She continues to live in our memory as passionate, joyful, loving, brave, and daring to believe she could change the world—and she did—person by person.