Local Sister of Charity celebrates 100th birthday
This week friends and family of Sister of Charity Annina Morgan celebrated a century of blessings. A Sister of Charity of Cincinnati for 82 years, Sister Annina turned 100 years old on March 9.
A couple of days before her 100th birthday, Sister Annina reflected on the past 82 years. She credits her entrance into the SC Community at the age of 17 as a result of the example of the Sisters of Charity that taught her at St. Mary’s in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
“They were always having a good time; I became close friends with many of them. … It doesn’t seem possible [that it’s been 82 years since I entered.] The grace to grow closer to God doesn’t come all of a sudden; it’s ongoing.”
Born in Alpena, Michigan, in 1916, Sister Annina’s father died when she was just 5 years old. Her mother moved the family West to Albuquerque to live with Sister Annina’s grandparents. When her mother remarried, the family became Catholic. “Beautiful how God brings good out of tragedy,” Sister once said. “I would not be a Sister of Charity today had my own dad not drowned and left my mother a young widow at 26.”
Sister entered the Community in 1933, and for 33 years ministered in education – teaching grades five through college – in Michigan, Ohio and Colorado. She was principal at many of those schools. In 1968, Sister Annina left formal education to serve as campus minister at Michigan State University in East Lansing and later St. Mary University in Mount Pleasant, both in Michigan. She returned to Cincinnati and Mount St. Joseph in 1974 to minister as personnel director for the Sisters of Charity Congregation, as director of the Women’s Center at the College of Mount St. Joseph and as retreat director for the Community – each for five-year terms.
Sister Annina remembers her teaching years with fondness. “When I first started teaching, at the age of 18, I taught 74 fifth graders at St. Leo’s in Detroit, Michigan. I was there for 10 years, and when one of our Sister’s was out for a couple months, I taught 96 fifth-grade boys. We got along well, but two months was enough,” she laughs.
Many of Sister Annina’s students from St. Leo’s and Pueblo Catholic High School in Colorado keep in touch with her today, including 91-year-old Louis Rice, who was one of the 96 fifth-grade boys she taught at St. Leo’s. “They all say thank you for making an impact in their lives, and for helping them become the people they are today,” she relates.
Blessings abound when you have lived religious life for more than 80 years. Sister Annina holds close to her heart the friendships she has developed throughout the years, and the feeling is multiplied tenfold. It is said that those who know her are made to feel that they are her closest friend.
“Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quotation on friendship fits Sister Annina perfectly,” said friend Sister Mary Bookser, SC. “‘A friend may well be reckoned the masterpiece of nature.’ Sister Annina has been the dearest of friends for close to 40 years. She is a woman who radiates goodness, grace, wisdom and love, and has shared these through all the years of her Sisters of Charity living. She is a blessing to all of the Charity family and to all who know her.”
As flowers and cards began to pour in the week of Sister’s 100th birthday, you couldn’t help but wonder if she ever expected to be celebrating this monumental birthday.
“It’s a miracle in itself,” Sister Annina said. “I have been told nine times that either I would not make it through the night, week or month.
“We stay alive because there is still something for us to do; to still have some influence. Even after I’m gone, the work is not over, it’s just my share is done.”
The Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati, an apostolic Catholic women’s religious community, exist to carry out the Gospel of Jesus Christ through prayer and service in the world. Sisters, using their professional talents in the fields of education, health care, social services and environmental justice, live and minister in 29 U.S. dioceses and in Guatemala, Mexico and the West Indies. They also sponsor institutions to address education, health care and social service needs, with particular concern for direct service to the poor. Approximately 320 Sisters are joined in mission by 198 Associates (lay men and women). Visit the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati Web site at www.srcharitycinti.org.
Story submitted by the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati