ann-thomas-headshot-d1610The year that St. Therese of the Little Flower was canonized (1925), I was born in Philadelphia, PA.  There I attended St. Helena Parish Elementary School where I received a good academic education.  In the 4th grade, my friend Peggy and I “dressed up” as sisters and visited the convent.  Perhaps the seeds of my vocation were planted at this time.

It was at Little Flower Catholic High School that I first met the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary – my IHMs.  From my first contact with them, I was attracted by their simplicity, love of God, and congenial and friendly manner.  I wanted to be one of them!  After graduation, I assured my birth mother, who was not a Catholic, that I would work a year to see if God was really calling me to the religious life.  At the end of the year, my dad told my mother to let me go – that I would be back.  My mother did not think I would but being a devout, God-loving woman, she gave her consent.  So I was off to Villa Maria in West Chester, PA, where I would learn to be an IHM sister!

All my days as a Sister, Servant of the Immaculate Heart of Mary have brought me joy and peace.  My various roles – elementary teacher, special education teacher, principal, and superior — were mostly in the state of PA.  However, I did have the privilege of being stationed in beautiful, sunny California.  These were special and grace-filled days – days of being with warm people who opened their hearts to the Sisters since we were many miles from family and community.

ann-thomas-vis-imparerd-students-d1610Of all my assignments, “missions” we call them, my time as teacher of the visually handicapped was very special for me.  It was such a thrill to see fingers glide across a Braille page and tell a story.  The highlight of the year’s activities was the Christmas play.  The children memorized their parts from braille and eagerly anticipated practices.  One year, as we prepared for “The Little Drummer Boy,” the star of the show, little Louie, miscounted his steps and fell off the stage.  Because he was so relaxed when he fell, Louie was unhurt and immediately wanted to resume rehearsal despite the faculty being a bit drained by the experience.  It was while I was working with the children who were blind that my mother embraced the Catholic faith.  This was truly a time of spiritual blessings for me.

My prayer life has sustained me through the normal “ups” and “downs” of life.  My favorite aspiration that gives me the strength to go on is:  “Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place my trust in You.”  He is always there!

Now I live in Camilla Hall, our nursing home for the sick and aged IHMs.  I do some tutoring in my space time as my love for teaching is still in my blood.  However, I realize that my principal role is the apostolate of prayer.  Now is my time to get ready to meet my loving Savior.  It is also the time to pray more frequently and more fervently for all the wonderful people who have become my benefactors through the years.  Among them are the gracious and generous members of SOAR! Who have given us the handicapped-bathing area so important at this time in our life as well as the medication carts that make the delivery of medications so much easier.  You have been so kind and good to us and I assure you of my gratitude and prayers.

Thank you for your generous hearts.  Thank you for your goodness to men and women religious!

In 2016, SOAR! awarded a $25,000 grant to the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Immaculata, PA for medication carts.  The carts will be used at Camilla Hall, the Sisters’ retirement home.