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Sister Lucy Bonifas, 78, has dedicated her life to helping others. Sister Lucy, who decided to become a nun when she was a teen-ager and later earned her nursing degree, retired in 2016. She now travels to nursing homes and hospitals to comfort and pray with patients.

Called to Serve

story by Skyler Ballard

As the early morning sun peeks through the curtains, spilling light onto the dozens of angel figurines covering every flat surface in her living room, Sister Lucy Bonifas heads to her couch with a cup of coffee and her prayer book, and starts up a conversation with God.

When she finishes her conversation an hour later, Sister Lucy grabs her homemade bread and a bouquet of  flowers she grows in her backyard and makes her way to Lourdes Hospital.

Although she retired from the hospital earlier this year, Sister Lucy is immediatly greeted with smiles and hugs from nearly everyone she passes as she walks through the halls to deliver her flowers to the hospital's chapel every week.

Some days, Sister Lucy also travels to nursing homes around Paducah to visit and comfort residents.

As a teenager growing up in rural Ohio, Sister Lucy attended a preparatory high school and decided  she wanted to become a nun.

"I felt like I was being called to religious life," says Sister Lucy, who was raised Catholic along with her seven siblings.

After completing nursing training, in 1969, when she was 32, Sister Lucy packed up her things, left her family behind, and moved to Paducah where she began her work at Lourdes Hospital.

Although she worked as a registered nurse and as director of hospice, spiritual services, childcare and many other jobs over the years requiring her to be on her feet for up to 16 hours a day, she did so for no pay.

"Married people make marriage vows. I vowed poverty, to identify with the poor,"  Sister Lucy says. She lives off donations and what is provided to her from her order, Sisters of Francis.

"All the gifts He's given me, they're not mine to keep," Sister Lucy says. "God has blessed me with so many gifts. I just need to respond to that and spread that love."

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Sister Lucy completes the sign of the cross as she reads from the Sisters of Francis' community prayer book. The book, which was made specifically for use by the order, contains songs and scriptures Sister Lucy reads daily.

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Sister Lucy points to herself in a picture of her with her family. Sister Lucy was raised Catholic on a farm in Tiffen, Ohio, along with her four brothers and three sisters. "I had good parents who lived their faith depending on God," Sister Lucy says. "They taught me by example what my relationship with God ought to be."

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Sister Lucy brings a freshly handpicked bouquet of flowers from her backyard garden to the chapel at Lourdes Hospital to replace last week's bunch. "God speaks to me through flowers," Sister Lucy says. "He suprises me with his gifts, with the beauty and love He brings."

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Todd Hawkins, a chaplain at Lourdes Hospital, greets Sister Lucy on one of her visits. She retired from Lourdes in April 2016 after 47 years of service, but still visits the hospital employees and patients weekly.

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Sister Lucy prays with her friend Marcella, a resident at a local nursing home. Sister Lucy makes frequent visits to Marcella, along with others who don't have family nearby to visit them often.