As the sixth child in a family of 13 children born to John and Matilda, Sister Annella learned early the values of obedience, hard work, prayer, and the give-and-take of living with others. She attended elementary school in New Market, Minn., until the sixth grade, the year her father died. Her mother then moved the family to Jordan, Minn.
S. Annella learned about religious life from her two Benedictine aunts, Sister Mary Hubert from Saint Benedict’s Monastery, St. Joseph, Minn., and Sister Sabina Ann Haus from St. Paul’s Monastery, St. Paul, Minn. Her mother encouraged S. Annella’s religious vocation, so after completion of eighth grade, she went to St. Benedict’s High School in St. Joseph and entered the novitiate at Saint Benedict’s Convent, St. Joseph, in 1947.
After her novitiate, S. Annella attended the Diocesan Teachers’ College in St. Paul for two years where she earned a certificate in education. She also earned a bachelor’s degree at the College of Saint Benedict, St. Joseph, with a major in English and a minor in philosophy.
Following her first profession, S. Annella spent 29 years as a teacher. She felt privileged to prepare the children for the sacraments of reconciliation and first communion. Skilled in crafts, she made many fish mobiles for sale at both Whitby Gift Shop at Saint Benedict’s Monastery and the gift shop at Saint Scholastica Convent, our retirement home for our sisters in St. Cloud, Minn. While serving as assistant to the motherhouse coordinator for 17 years and then ministering at the Art and Heritage Place, she found time for quilling and tatting which she made into beautiful cards.
S. Annella never liked being in the limelight, except when she was asked to recite some of the poetry she had memorized. Many of us remember the poetry she recited at community parties. Fewer of us know about the poetry she wrote as she faithfully lived out her commitment to monastic life and personally experienced the Paschal Mystery through disappointments, the loss of loved ones in death, and the inevitable conflicts and misunderstandings that are part of life. With her permission, I share a poem she wrote during retreat in 1981: “The Ebb and Flow of Love.”
Yesterday’s love soared high and lifted as on a mighty wave.
The joy of it! The ecstasy!
Today, no warning given, it fell;
only faith enlivened the ebbing unfeelingness of love.
The Pain of it! The loss!
And hope will help it swell again, to crest, and billow high.
For Christ, my hope, reaches down to catch me to the sky.
The expectancy! The desire!
Thank you, S. Annella, for 75 years of fidelity to your Benedictine vocation. You often express appreciation for being able to pray in community three times a day. Thank you for the inspiration you have been to us. We celebrate God’s grace in and through you!
Profile written by Eunice Antony, OSB