Sister Mary Ann Eichenseer

Sister Mary Ann EichenseerIt is a “big surprise” to Sister Mary Ann, as she comes to realize she is a 60-year Jubilarian this year. “It fascinates me how life works,” she said, noting that she now has surpassed the lifespan of both her mother and father.

Sister Mary Ann was first attracted to religious life when she was attending third and fourth grade in Protivin, Iowa, a school staffed by the School Sisters of St. Francis. She was so impressed by her teacher, Sister M. Mark Trzil, a musician who was very good with her. Sister Mary Ann said that she can’t sing, but Sister Mark told her to “mouth the words” and this has been a life-long strategy for her when it comes to singing!

She went on to the high school in Protivin, also staffed by the School Sisters of St. Francis. Sister Mary Ann was attracted to the School Sisters of St. Francis by Sisters Amator, Matthias, and Viator, and she decided to enter the convent.

She had mixed feelings when she was not allowed to go to the senior prom, because the sisters and her parents thought she “might meet some nice young man and decide not to go to the convent.” It took her awhile to overcome these feelings.

Sister Mary Ann began her ministry as a homemaker, realizing very early that she did not like going to college. After five years, though, she went back to Alverno College to become a teacher. She did not like the classwork involved, but she loved teaching. Sister is a “hands on” person and enjoyed the interaction with the students.

She also heard about the printing department at the Motherhouse and thought what a good experience this would be – and it was a great experience! It brought out her special skills of working with machinery and her attention to detail. Her time in the Archives and as a records clerk also fed these talents. Her best memories are those of going out once a week to get away. 

Sister Mary Ann has experienced good health all these years, except for a cancer diagnosis and subsequent chemotherapy treatments. Her eyes are great, and she thinks they are the best part of her right now. She admits she has not bounced back from the experience with the cancer, but she is treading on.

She said that what has been most life giving for her has been meeting the different sisters and the different places she has ministered.

Currently she is in retirement at Sacred Heart and spends her day reading, reading, and more reading…books, newspapers, search puzzles.  She watches some TV and is devoted to praying the Divine Office, praying her rosary, and participating in the liturgies. Sister Mary Ann gives off a positive energy as she says that these years of retirement are her “Wonder Years.”

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