Sister Marie-Joseph, the American Soldier
who became a Nun thanks to D-Day!
By Angela Stewart
Sister Marie-Joseph, whose real name is Mary Ulm, was in the U.S. Army before joining the community. She was born in 1920, in Hamilton, Ohio and she had 5 siblings. She began to volunteer in 1942 for the Women’s Army Corps and worked as a telephone operator providing communications.
While in France, Mary Ulm discovered the Little Sisters of the Poor and was deeply moved when she saw them working with the sick and wounded. Upon her return to the United States, she told her family about her desire to join them and become a nun. It was not until 5 years later that she returned to the community in Queens, New York. She then sought out the Little Sisters of the Poor in Cincinnati. Two years after her arrival at the novitiate, she arrived in Europe where she would spend the rest of her mission.
People had little difficulty imagining her as a solider since she was a woman full of energy, “recalls the superior”. She had such a positive attitude and zest for life. She was full of character, but in the good sense of the word. Also, a lot of repartee.
In 2018 she moved to the sisters’ retirement home in Caen, France. God fully closed the circle of Sister Mary’s life by bringing her back to the same house that the Sisters she first saw on the beaches of Normandy came from.
Her funeral on April 4 was the talk of the town. A former U.S. Army serviceman who died at the age of 103, Sister Marie-Joseph discovered her vocation with the Little Sisters of the Poor when she went to France for the D-Day landings in 1944. A memorial Mass was held on April 30 in Hamilton, OH which allowed some of our Homes’ Sisters to attend.
“I am the Resurrection and the Life;” – John 11:25