When Sue Talbert “discovered” Mother of God Church in 1979, it was like finding her way home again. In fact, she had been baptized there and attended Mass with her parents, brother and two sisters until she reached school age.
“We lived on 17th Street in Covington, which was within the boundaries of St. Benedict parish,” she recalls. “So I was required to go to school there. My parents switched our membership from Mother of God to St. Ben’s.”
In 1975, after graduating from high school and finding a job at a local bank, she moved out on her own. For a time, she stopped going to church. Then, in 1979, she joined a group called Choice for Singles, where she met a couple – Paul and Ruthanne Grant – who told her about the church they had found and how excited they were about it. The church was Mother of God.
“They told me how they were walking past on a Wednesday night and heard music,” says Talbert. “They went inside to investigate, and the folk ensemble was rehearsing. They thought the music was so beautiful, they started going to church there on Sundays and registered as parishioners. I decided to check it out.”
Talbert liked what she heard, too, and decided to stick around.
“Hearing the music brought me back to church,” she says. “It was the best I could have found anywhere. It helped me connect with my spiritual feelings.”
Talbert became a very active member of Mother of God, taking part in small prayer groups. She was also involved in Girl Scouts, where she shared her love of nature and music and honed her leadership skills.
Time for a Change
In 1986, feeling discontented in her job, Talbert decided to enroll at Northern Kentucky University to get her bachelor’s degree. “Going to college was a scary proposition for me because I have a learning disability and I wasn’t sure I could do it. But my years with the Girl Scouts gave me the confidence to try.”
Over the years, Talbert had figured out that she learned best by listening and taking notes. So she enrolled in classes that suited her learning style. It wasn’t easy. With a major in Mental Health and Human Services, some of her classes required a 20-hour per week practicum.
“I was working 35 hours a week at the bank, going to school full-time and doing my practicum on top of that,” she explains. “During those years, I had four hours each day to sleep, eat and get myself where I needed to go. It was rough, but I did it.”
Talbert graduated magna cum laude with her bachelor of science degree in 1993. She eventually went on to land her dream job at Head Start, teaching 3- and 4-year-olds.
In recent years, Talbert has had to retire from teaching due to arthritis. But she continues to be active at Mother of God and in the local community.
“I’m very interested in the deaf community,” she says. “I’ve taken eight sign language classes so I can better converse with them.”
She also volunteers twice a week teaching English to Hispanic adults at El Centro (“The Center”), an outreach program run by the Sisters of Divine Providence on Scott Street in Covington.
“My guiding principle in life is to always try to be a giver,” she says. “But I’ve also learned that you have to take your turn as a receiver sometimes to give someone else a chance at giving. That was a hard lesson for me to learn.”
Mother of God parish has helped her adhere to that principle by connecting her with opportunities to give and receive.
“The contacts I’ve made here and the network I’ve established have led to much of my volunteer work,” she says. She’s also very grateful for the opportunity to go downstairs after Mass for coffee and donuts, where she has the chance to talk to people and find out what they’re doing.
“Mother of God is my home away from home,” she says. “The music is still what brings me here, but I also love how welcome I feel. No matter who you are or what you like, what you do or don’t do, you’re always welcome at Mother of God.”
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