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S. Michelle Olley

S. Michelle Olley, OP, entered eternal life on April 25, 2019.

Services were held at Siena Chapel on Wednesday, May 1.

Read her obituary.



10thirtysix | Exclusive | Sister Michelle Olley

December 20, 2017 - "Sister Michelle Olley, a Racine Dominican nun, recently turned 90 years old. She talks about growing up in Racine and on a farm in Franksville. She also talks about dating and how her mother reacted when she told her she was becoming a nun."

S. Michelle Olley

From an interview in 2009 for S. Michelle's 60th Jubilee Celebration

Seeing how happy the sisters who taught her were and appreciating the interest they took in students and their families, Catherine Olley decided to see if this might be the life for her. After finishing high school, she volunteered as a teacher’s aid for the Racine Dominicans and was assigned to St. Mary School in Janesville, WI. When the third-grade teacher suddenly left early in the year, the teacher’s aid became the teacher.

Undaunted, Catherine decided this was the life she wanted and joined the community that winter. At her Reception she was given the name Sister Michelle. She still cherishes her experiences as teacher and administrator in Catholic education during her first 21 years.

In 60 years as a Dominican, S. Michelle has treasured community in many different arenas.  “It has made me grow and taught me the importance of forming community in all life settings,” she noted. “In my various ministries, a key has been developing healthy relationships with people including those holding different viewpoints so that, in the process, we can find common ground for the sake of the mission. My experience in political office especially affirmed this perspective.”

Education has always been vital to her – as a student, teacher, administrator, consultant, political contender, board member, etc. Foreign study tours and travel afforded her wonderful opportunities for both teaching and learning. In visiting Europe, Africa, Israel, and Central America, “each place I was encouraged by meeting women religious,” she said. “I was inspired by their spirit and concern for working with the poor, akin to the spirit in my own Dominican Community.”

In a consultant partnership, S. Michelle facilitated strategic planning sessions with the leadership in 250 different communities of women religious.  Though viewpoints varied within the leadership groups, “understanding was possible when respectful dialogue existed “ 

Today S. Michelle enjoys living in Racine with Sister Betty, her sister and best friend, and close to family, friends, and her Dominican community.



S Michelle Olley's Missions

1946-1947:   St. Mary (Lay Teacher & Postulant) in Janesville, WI

1949-1951:  St. John in South Milwaukee, WI

1951-1955:  St. Francis Xavier in Merrill, WI

1955-1957:  St. Benedict in Milwaukee, WI

1957-1963:  St. Francis Xavier in Merrill, WI

1963-1970:  St. Catherine High School in Racine, WI

1970-1975:  St. Patrick Parish in Racine, WI

1975-1977:  Center for Community Concerns in Racine, WI

1977-1978:  Care of Mother in Franksville, WI

1978-1980:  Senior Companion Director in Racine, WI

1980-10/1988:  Archdiocese of Milwaukee in Milwaukee, WI

1988-1995:   Education Research & Development in Racine, WI

7/1995-2001:  Center for Community Concerns in Racine, WI

2001-Present:  Volunteer Activities in Racine, WI