Sister Mary was born in Green Bay in 1953 to Larry and Berdie Kabat. She is the fourth child of seven children. With a brother a year older and a brother a year younger, Mary did her best to keep up and survive her brothers' escapades.
Faith and family were the center of Mary's world. It was a wonderful time to grow up and feel the belonging to parish and neighborhood. School life began at Annunciation School where she was taught by Dominican Sisters. Though already the seed of a vocation to religious life had begun to grow in Mary, she found the school setting harsh and the numbers of students enrolled made her feel invisible.
When her family moved to a new home and into St. Jude Parish, life took a wonderful turn. Maybe it was being a little older as she was entering fifth grade at that time, but she will always tell you it was meeting the Bay Settlement Sisters that brought light and joy to her school life. Walking into St. Jude School for the first time, she heard the Sisters' laughter and calling to one another and saw one wearing tennis shoes as she readied her classroom for the new school year. She knew that these were the Sisters she wanted to spend her life with.
Through grade school and high school, Mary involved herself in parish life, being "volunteered" with her siblings by her parents for every parish event, singing in the guitar choir and teaching religious education classes with another Sister.
Attending high school sponsored by the Carondelet Sisters did not change her desire to join the Bay Settlement Sisters, which she did on August 8, 1971. She was received as Sister Mary in 1973 and professed temporary vows in 1975 and perpetual vows in 1980.
The next greatest joy to being a Bay Settlement Sister was being a teacher. Sister Mary's goal each year was to create a learning environment in which children felt happy, respected and could learn to their full potential. Sister Mary eventually taught grades one through eighth and also earned her master's degree so she could be a principal.
Life was good but it took a big turn when Sister Mary was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. She could no longer work the hours that school life required. After attempts at medical treatment and part-time school positions, Sister Mary was asked to carry on the ministry of Development for her Community started by Sister Mary Ellen Lowney and Sister Mary Grace Peters. It is a wonderful ministry of inviting persons to share in the life and mission of the Sisters and to cherish the relationships with family and friends of the Sisters. As Mother Teresa says, "Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love." Every encounter, every letter, every phone call, every visit is the opportunity to share the love of God.