Ann Manganaro SL, M.D.: Gifted physician, teacher, poet
In I Am the Way, the Constitutions of the Sisters of Loretto, the section titled “Charism” in article #9 calls persons to loving service “to work for a future in which the poor and suffering, the hungry in body and spirit, will know God’s saving love in them.”
The charism of any religious community in the Church is always grounded in its founder’s vision based on the Gospel. Every Sister of Loretto lives the charism of the Congregation to the best of her ability. Father Charles Nerinckx, priest founder of Loretto, once said, “Only trust your vocation, expecting all from God’s goodness.”
The work Sister Ann Manganaro SL did during her life in Loretto can be summed up in one word: presence. Ann was present. Body, soul and spirit, she encountered God in the depths of human living: in the classroom, in the medical clinics, in times of sorrow and in moments of fullness and joy. Ann found God in everyday experiences. She lived in the moment as she connected with each person’s needs and in the doing experienced deeply the presence of God.
Her book of poetry, “Give Me a Living Love,” was just published in 2023. The poems are all about presence. Ann’s all-too-short life is revealed in the book of poetry as she reflects on family, community, her years at the Catholic Worker and as a teacher, and her lifelong love in being a doctor. The poems speak of her presence in all those circles of life and tell the story of her deep engagement with life, with love and with those who are poor and hurting.
Ann’s work as a doctor in El Salvador began with the Jesuit Refugee Service in San Salvador amid a raging civil war. Later that year she moved to Guarjila, a refugee resettlement village and served as a physician and teacher of health care promoters.
Ann carried the charism of Loretto wherever she served, with all those she loved and finally, as a victim of cancer, home to God’s eternal presence. In her poem “14 March 1984,” Ann writes:
Let this life in you burst
Open, let yourself become the very food
Of the feast you seek. Seek first the reign of God.