Sister Margaret Ann was born on July 24th, 1930 in Milwaukee, the second child of Alvina and George Arnold. A doctor had told Alvina she would not have any children, so she was glad to prove him wrong. Both her parents were involved in Holy Ghost Parish. Margaret Ann had a love for animals and there was always a kitten or dog to love in the house. Because she had bright red hair she was considered very special.
Margaret Ann attended elementary school at Holy Ghost where the School Sisters of St. Francis had also taught her mother and brother. A movie about St. Theresa inspired her to someday be a Carmelite like St. Theresa, but being around SSSF for 8 years she changed her mind. In August of 1944, there was no question where she would attend High School. It was St. Joseph Convent. Francis, her brother had already begun to study for the priesthood but later changed his mind.
Margaret Ann spent 2 years as an aspirant and accepted the routine and dress. She had studied piano for 4 years and when asked if she would like to be a musician, she replied she would rather be a teacher so she could become a postulant and finish her High School in 3 years.
On June 13th, 1947, Margaret Ann was received into the Community and was given the name of “Georgella” after her dad. During her Novitiate she helped Sr. Bernardine pack and send packages to our Sisters in Germany. Both Sisters Bernardine and Georgella were small but strong.
On June 21st, 1949, Sister made her first vows. Most of her classmates went on Mission, but she was privileged to stay in the Convent and finish her degree from Alverno College.
Her first mission was in Westville, Illinois where she taught 1st grade for 9 years. Her summers were filled with doing “park work” at Holy Angels in Chicago. This was her first time with another culture. In 1960, she began 8 years of teaching lower grades at St. Rita School in West Allis. She also was a cooperating teacher. The 60’s brought many changes in her life. She went back to her name from baptism. Studying for a degree outside the community was a new experience for her.
After a year at St. Mark’s School in Kenosha, there was an opportunity to help start Harambee Community School for Black children. This was staffed by several Religious Communities. Living with Sisters of different Orders and meeting the Capuchin priests brought her new insights.
After her father died in 1971, Margaret Ann moved with three of our Sisters but continued to be involved with the Capuchins at St. Benedict the Moor Parish. She helped Vietnamese refugee families find needed clothes, food and homes. In 1975, she was invited to teach at Alverno Lab School. For 8 years she taught Language Arts and Music to 5 and 6 year olds.
In the summer of 1980, Sr. Margaret Ann was chosen to spend 6 weeks in India in our “Living Aware” program. It was an eye opener of another culture and the lives of the poor. Opportunities like marching in a New York war rally, and Peace and Justice programs continued to keep her aware of current issues.
From 1983-1987, Sister volunteered to go to Central America. Sr. Ruth Vassen and she lived with 2 Mexican women as they prepared to join our Community. Gradually she spent more time in Guatemala where she tutored the young Sisters and worked with the orphans. Margaret Ann struggled to learn Spanish and this other culture.
During her Sabbatical Program after leaving Guatemala another participant mentioned that she might be a good chaplain. When she moved to Maryhill Convent, she began taking courses to become a chaplain. For 21 years she worked at Sacred Heart Rehabilitation Hospital and Columbia/ St. Mary’s Hospital. Margaret Ann was known for her listening, prayers and humor.
With the help of her brother and Jubilee gifts, she was blessed to go on many trips – including a Pilgrimage to Assisi, to our Convent in Germany, and to Alaska.
Beginning in 1999, Margaret Ann attended the yearly demonstrations to close the School of Americas. It was another way she connected with Justice and Peace issues. Every November, she attended the Call to Action programs to hear about policies that grew out of Vatican II. Many summers found her giving Mission talks in other states. Yearly, she set up the Import Booth at our Fall Festival where items from Latin American and India were sold. Her many yearly retreats especially at Bailey’s Harbor helped her to grow spiritually.
In June of 2010, Margaret Ann retired and began doing Volunteer work. For 3 months she helped develop a program called “Living with Fun and Exercise” (LIFE). When Our Lady of the Angels opened she helped with whatever was needed. She felt a sense of fulfillment when she brought Communion to the elderly in their homes and to patients in the hospital.
Sister wrote that she loved to live by the prophet Micah’s words “This is what God wants of you – To act justly, to love tenderly and to walk humbly with your God.” Thank you, Margaret Ann, for acting, loving and walking this way.