Remembrance of the Life of Sister Ann Patrick Ware SL
March 3, 1920—February 23, 2013
MSS (Magisterii in Scientis Sacris) in theology from Regina Mundi in Rome (1957).
Ann Pat, as we called her, had a distinguished scholarly career as well as an esteemed Loretto career. Beginning in 1943, after completing her Loretto novitiate, she taught in high schools in Colorado Springs, Mobile and at Nerinx Hall in St. Louis. In 1957, she became part of the faculty at Webster College in St. Louis and was head of the theology department there and taught Latin and French as well as philosophy and ethics. In 1966 she was asked to teach religion courses at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, N. Dak. Because it was a secular institution, she had to change from the Loretto habit to “street clothes”—the first Loretto sister to do so.
In 1968, Ann Pat moved to New York City where she worked with the National Council of Churches and was especially interested in ecumenism, and then with Church Women United with its Citizen Advocates for Justice. She took courses in criminal law and canon law and was a frequent advocate for prisoners on Rikers Island, a jail complex in New York City. Then, after 30 years in New York, in 1998, she moved to Loretto Center in St. Louis.
Ann Pat was elected to the Loretto Executive Committee in 1970 and served from 1970 to 1974 while Helen Sanders was Loretto’s President. Another official Loretto service included being part of the Loretto Finance Office in New York and then in St. Louis (in retirement). She was an active member of the Loretto Women’s Network and was interested in all Loretto activities. She had keen interest in community members and made many personal connections.
With great facility in languages, Ann Pat was a meticulous translator. Among her translations were several books by her friend, Brazilian theologian Ivone Gebara. She was also called on for translating masters and doctoral theses through other friends at universities. Ivone wrote to say that Ann Pat has been very important in her life.
Because of her particular facility with language, whether with etymology, grammar, or editing skill, Ann Pat wrote or edited several publications. She was the general editor of influential collections of essays, Midwives of the Future: American Sisters Tell Their Stories and Naming Our Truth: Stories of Loretto Women. She also prepared a booklet of letters, many translated from French, from Loretto sisters in southern Missouri and Arkansas: Glimpses of Early Loretto Life, 1830–1840. In addition to being a scholarly writer and editor, Ann Pat was a whiz at writing parodies, including serious ones such as those in her booklet of “New Words to Old Hymns” or light-hearted ones for friends’ birthdays or other special occasions. Many of us regularly sing her birthday song that begins, “Come, celebrate the day and year/God’s loving kindness put you here.”
Known as a strong woman of principle throughout her life, Ann Pat followed her conscience, whether in refusing to pay taxes that would go to support war or speaking out on issues of women’s rights and reproductive freedom. After a particularly contentious time following an investigation of nuns who signed a New York Times ad asking for discussion about abortion, Ann Pat (one of the signers) wrote a careful critique, “A Case Study in Oppression: A Theological and Personal Analysis,” made available through The National Coalition of American Nuns. She closes her commentary and analysis with the statement that she feels it is fear that keeps many silent, a “fear of taking hold of our own destiny as we urge other women to do.” She was kind and gentle—but firm.
When she and a New York friend, Janet Walton, felt the church services they were going to every day in Manhattan were not meeting their needs, especially as women, they began their Women’s Liturgy Group that has met every month since 1981. Immediately upon moving to St. Louis, Ann Pat invited friends to start a local Women’s Liturgy Group which has met regularly ever since.
While Ann Pat was able, and while her dear friend Alice Cochran was living, the two of them enjoyed many ventures together. They traveled in Europe and across the United States. They sang ’40s songs, discussed their political views, which were somewhat divergent, and their religious views, which were not. They most often went by car to Loretto Assemblies, whether in Denver, El Paso, or Kentucky (or at home in St. Louis).
Many friends have sent condolences on learning of Ann Pat’s death. They all mention what a courageous, witty, wise, intelligent and insightful person she was. A friend from Germany wrote, “She opened our minds for fascinating new horizons.” Diane Fassel wrote, “The way I view the world was and is to this day influenced by her perspective, her wit and her way of formulating things.” Kathy Wright once said that if she were inclined to do such things, she would wear a WWAPD bracelet for “What Would Ann Pat Do?” (Sharon Kassing made such bracelets for the liturgy group members.)
Ann Pat was grateful for the loving attention given her by the St. Louis community throughout her residence here and especially during her last illness. She died among friends on February 23 at Bethesda-Dilworth skilled nursing facility, just a week before her 93rd birthday. Many of us have lost a true friend, and Loretto has lost a giant. Nevertheless, we will count on her continued presence among us.