Sister Anna Marie spent many years of dedicated service as a nurse in our health care institutions but hoped to follow her heart’s desire to be a missionary. Her wish was granted when she was sent to use her nursing skills in Honduras to serve the poor mountain people.
After the Second Vatican Council, she was able to respond to an invitation to work on the eastern coast of Guatemala collaborating, organizing, and developing women’s programs and participating in catechist programs. She worked with marginalized campesino Latino and indigenous women, making them aware of their dignity, rights, and responsibilities and promoting their development.
Sister Anna Marie responded to the invitation of Bishop Gerardo Flores to respond to young women in his rural vicariate who were interested in religious life but lacked the education to enter existing religious communities in Guatemala. Shortly after moving into a new convent that was built, she experienced the frightening tremors of the 1976 earthquake.
In the following years Sister Anna Marie and other sisters of our community experienced the Guatemalan civil war. After the murder of the Franciscan priest pastor, the group fled Guatemala to Honduras, and eventually to Mexico. When Sister Anna Marie and other sisters returned to Guatemala, they were able to realize their dream of helping the many orphans of the war. They established Guadalupe Homes Orphanage.
During her years in Guatemala, Sister Ana Marie also served as a member of the leadership team in the ULAF Province (Union of Latin American Franciscans). She reflected on those years saying, “I am grateful to God, Father, and Mother, and to Christ, the center of my life.”
As the young community began assuming responsibility for their life in Guatemala, Sister Anna Marie started another needed ministry for the victims of the civil war. She led a small group of sisters who founded Rieti Healing Center in San Marcos in western Guatemala. This healing center serves the survivors of the war who had experienced personal and family trauma.
After her return to the United States in 2012, Sister Anna Marie began her new ministry as a retired volunteer while staying in contact with the people of Guatemala whom she had served as a missionary for 47 years. She continued her commitment to the Spanish speaking from the neighborhood in Milwaukee and invited them to the St. Joseph Convent Adoration Chapel twice a month.
Her days of prayer and presence at Our Lady of the Angels Convent are now filled with gratitude as she celebrates 75 years as a School Sister of St. Francis.
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