Houston Astros mourn nun who kept faith in the team
I found this Houston Belief story at New Advent. What a great post and inspiration! God bless this wonderful Sister with eternal peace:
One spring season when the Astros were in a particularly bad slump, Sister Damian Kuhn made her way to owner Drayton McLane's office, dressed in her traditional blue habit and veil.
“She was our No. 1 fan, and she always took it personal,” recalled McLane. He told her it was time to start praying.
After a long sigh, she replied, “Drayton, my knees are bloodied. It's going to take more than that!”
Now McLane and the baseball team's players are struggling over a different loss — the death of Sister Kuhn on Monday, just months shy of her 90th birthday.
She, as a good Roman Catholic, and McLane, as a good Baptist, connected after he noticed the nun's unabashed enthusiasm for the team whenever she managed to snare a ticket for a game at the Astrodome that otherwise would have gone unused.
“She was hard to miss in a crowd,” McLane said, since her head was covered with a habit instead of a ball cap.
Thinking it was unbecoming for a nun to shout, she once told the Houston Chronicle that she tried hard to just clap and give high-fives. She never jeered or heckled, and always believed that next crack of the bat might be an Astros' home run.
Then 10 years ago, she saw it as a gift from God when the team moved to Minute Maid Park. That's because she was living across the street at the convent for the Annunciation Catholic Church and Incarnate Word Academy.
Bagwell was her favorite
McLane, acknowledging the nun's vow of poverty, bestowed her with season tickets that allowed her to sit behind home plate at the new stadium.
One of her best memories was being flown by the Astros on a private jet to the first day of spring training. “She got to watch the players practice and didn't get home until dark. She never forgot it,” said longtime friend Margaret Buckle, of Houston.
Sister Kuhn also marked her 80th birthday by throwing out the first pitch of the game to one of her favorite players, Jeff Bagwell. Their bond went beyond the ballpark as they occasionally shared pasta together at Carrabba's Italian Grill.
When her health began to deteriorate, the Astros sent a golf cart to transport her to games. In return for the Astros' kindness, Sister Kuhn made what McLane likes to call “heavenly fudge” that she regularly delivered to him.
Sister Kuhn was the oldest of five girls born to Buddy and Ruby Kuhn on Sept. 24, 1920, in Houston.
Her love affair with baseball was inherited from her father, who was a scrappy pitcher for a company team in Houston before the Astros existed.
“Buddy Kuhn was known all over,” recalled one of her sisters, Doris Olexa of Beaumont. “And our mother was taking Agnes (renamed Sister Damian Kuhn) to the games when she was only a baby.”
For as long as anyone can remember, she wanted to become a nun. “She even went around with a towel pinned on her head, pretending to be a nun,” Olexa said. “She never had any other desire. She loved her faith.”
Sister Kuhn then committed herself to the teaching order of the Sisters of the Incarnate Word and Blessed Sacrament in Houston at age 18.
Students were devoted
She served as a home economics teacher at the Incarnate Word Academy for 57 years until some mini-strokes forced her into retirement. Many of her students — such as Rose Carrabba, whose family owns the Italian grill — remained devoted and kept in touch with her.
Life as a nun didn't stop Sister Kuhn from having fun.
The Buckle family remembers taking her and another nun with them to Knott's Berry Farm in California after a wedding ceremony.
“I lost track of her there,” Buckle remembered. “Then looking up, I saw two nuns in full habits dropping at what seemed like 90 miles per hour from one of the scariest rides that nobody in my family would do. They were laughing their heads off.”
Room full of memorabilia
And Sister Kuhn's devotion to the Astros also knew no limit. At another Buckle wedding, the family spotted Sister Kuhn with a tiny earphone, concealed by her habit and connected to an old-fashioned transistor radio.
“She later smiled while denying having the game on during the ceremony,” said Buckle's son, Chris.
Even though she could no longer get to the ballpark, she never missed a game this last season on the small TV in her room.
Her health worsened at Christmas when she had a stroke that prevented her from speaking.
“She still understood everything and would smile and nod ‘yes' when asked if the Astros would be ready for next year,” said Sister Brigid Cummins.
Yet she must have sensed the end was near. Last summer, she gave away most of the Astros' memorabilia that decorated her room — from the ball she pitched to the signed photographs she possessed — to family members. All that remained was former first baseman Jeff Bagwell's No. 5 jersey, pinned in its place of honor on her wall.
Sister Cummins folded up the jersey to give to Sister Kuhn's family after she died.
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