Called to make visible the love of our
good and provident God

Profiles in Ministry: Sister Mary Luann Bender, SND

Sister Mary Luann Bender, SND, serves as the Mission and Ministry Coordinator at St. Charles Community (SCC) for over 40 years on behalf of the Sisters of Notre Dame. Both her parents and several family members have been residents of St. Charles Community. In reflecting on her ministry at St. Charles, she says, “Truly, my soul is at home at St. Charles.”


During a tour that Sr. Mary Luann arranged for a group of sisters who reside in Lourdes Hall Care Center, she lovingly led the group on a detailed tour of the Summer Cottage, the Autumn Inn, and the chapel. Upon leaving, they shared that, “Sr. Mary Luann was the perfect hostess. She introduced sisters to residents and staff and explained that many of the staff members have been with St. Charles from 15 to 30 years…Along the tour, they also learned that St. Charles serves approximately 700 residents each year and are currently building 18 new cottages.” This tour is just one small yet meaningful way that Sister Mary Luann continually and prayerfully is building community and serving the St. Charles family.

Sister Luann Bender (on the right) with a resident of St. Charles Community.

In responding to the daily needs in this ministry over a span of four decades, God has invited Sister Luann to be lighthearted and light-footed over the years. In 2015, she was called to be open to downsizing her residence with her sisters in the convent at St. Charles Community to temporary residence at the St. Charles Lodge (where SCC offers independent senior apartments). As she prepared for that move, she offered this reflection:

We are preparing to move.  Our convent home at St. Charles has become too large for the three of us who now live here–Sr. Mary Harietta Gausepohl, Sr. Mary Tereze Deye, and myself. It is filled with many things that had served us well in our younger years, but that now seem unnecessary.  As we sort through books, dishes, draperies, and decorations, and take excess bedding and furnishings to persons who truly need them, it seems as though we can breathe more easily. More than the physical advantages of divesting ourselves of things, we are experiencing a spiritual cleansing, a making room for something more important. 

Along with our many friends here at St. Charles, we are now being invited to come to a deeper understanding of what God means by the words: “My child, everything I have is yours!”  Everything–time, nature, beauty and, most of all, God’s love.

There comes a time in life when persons are given the opportunity to travel lightly, to be free to shape their souls, to set new priorities and enter more deeply into conversation with God and with one another. In her book The Gift of Years, Joan Chittister writes:  “…we finally have the time–and the freedom–to furnish the soul with poetry and beauty, with friendships and adventure, with children to play with rather than raise, and with peers to talk to about important matters rather than superficial things… A blessing of these years is the invitation to go light-footed into the here and now…” 

How good it is to have the time, space, and

freedom to discover who we really are,

what is truly important to us,

and to travel a bit more lightly.

– Sister Mary Luann Bender, SND

About St. Charles Community

The St. Charles Homestead is a Personal Care Home facility in Covington, KY. If your parent or another senior you care for can no longer safely live at home, St. Charles Community can help. The combined years of dedicated service of St. Charles’ team is a testament to how genuinely and whole-heartedly the staff and leadership answer the call to serve senior adults and their families in the name of Jesus and in union with St. Charles’ sponsoring community, the Sisters of Notre Dame, as together we daily Celebrate Life and Embrace Seniors.