Born on June 30, 1926 into an Irish Catholic family, Martha Curry experienced grief early in life as her father died when she was just eight years old. This left her mother alone to raise Martha and her older brother. Martha was educated in Catholic schools from elementary school through college, when she attended Barat College. This is where she was first introduced to the Society of the Sacred Heart, who operated the school. It was these years, interacting with and observing these sisters, that later steered Martha to the Society herself. She recalls admiring the Religious for three main reasons: their clear devotion to prayer, their dedication to their work, and the love they had for one another.
After graduating from college and graduate school, she went on to teach English at a public high school in Chicago. However, she “knew there was something else.” This is when she recognized her vocation. Martha began her candidacy on January 6, 1952 at Kenwood, Albany, New York and made her first vows there on August 15, 1954. Afterward, she returned to teaching, this time at Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart in Lake Forest, Illinois. She remained there until leaving for Rome and professing her final vows on July 21, 1960.
Sister Curry truly loved working in the classroom and continued that service for most of her active ministry. In the twenty-three years between 1960 and 1983, she taught at four different schools, including Clifton Academy of the Sacred Heart in Cincinnati, both Duchesne Academy and Duchesne College in Omaha, and Barat College. During this time, she also acquired her Ph.D. in English at the University of Loyola. She also served as principal of the Sacred Heart high school at Sheridan Road in Chicago, 1983-85.
In 1988, Sister Curry took the job as director of the Newman Center at Wayne State University in Detroit. Here, she was responsible for programming, planning liturgies and prayer services and making the Newman Center known on campus. However, her favorite part was working with the students at this public university. She held this position until 1997. She remained in Detroit working at various ministries until 2001. After leaving Detroit, she became director of the community at Kenwood. She loved this position, too. Sister Curry retired in 2008 and moved back to Chicago. She spent several years researching the history of Barat College and published Barat College: A Legacy, A Spirit, and A Name (Loyola University Press) in 2012.
Sister Curry believes that her vocation of being a vowed member of the Society of the Sacred Heart has impacted her life more than anything. She says that both being professionally vowed and living in a loving community has shaped her life. In addition, she believes that St. Madeline Sophie Barat would be very pleased with the Society today, especially the quality of prayer and of the community life. St. Madeline Sophie spent her life expanding and adapting, and her “little Society” continues to do both.