Sister Ann Therese McAndrew, CSC (1925-2020)
(Sister M. Florinda)
A Faithful Friend of St. Joseph
Sister Ann Therese McAndrew left clear instructions on the details of her funeral. She had been a faithful member of the Sisters of the Holy Cross for 77 years when she died at Saint Mary’s Convent, Notre Dame, Indiana, at age 95. She asked that there be no memento for her, thinking it would be an imposition to have another sister in her entrance group, or band, feel compelled to extol her virtues as a fellow woman religious. As it happened, she alone was the surviving member of her band who entered in September 1943. As for the memento, she insisted, “Just speak about the goodness of St. Joseph. I consider him my good friend.” St. Joseph was an appropriate friend to accompany Anna McAndrew throughout her life. In traditional Catholic spirituality, St. Joseph is the saint of a hidden life, who fosters and protects the child and the family. The Sisters of the Holy Cross taught her in elementary school at St. Theodore, describing Anna as a very good young lady coming from a fine Catholic family. Anna applied to the Sisters of the Holy Cross in 1943. She received the habit in 1944 receiving the name Mary Florinda, with her older sister by four years, Mary Catherine, entering the Congregation only the month before. Since 1967, Sister has been known as Ann Therese McAndrew, and reclaiming the McAndrew surname was apparently important to her since she left instructions to give all her “Irish possessions” to her family upon her death. Everyone attests to Sister’s devotion to her family. At her Mass of Resurrection on January 4, 2021, the hymns selected by Sister included ones from her brother’s and sister’s funerals. Within five days of her sister’s death, Sister Ann Therese wrote asking permission that she be buried next to her sister’s grave in Our Lady of Peace Cemetery at the motherhouse.
Sister Ann Therese emulated St. Joseph, whom tradition calls a worker, provider and guardian. She was known for being dedicated and conscientious in all her duties, rarely taking a sick day. She was an accomplished seamstress and cook who shared her domestic talents with others. Her material needs were minimal, being content with what she had. Sister credited her friend St. Joseph as significant in her life of service. “My first ministry was at St. Joseph Grade School in South Bend, Indiana, and my last ministry was at St. Joseph High School in South Bend.” Sister had attended Lindholm Technical High School in Chicago, taking four years of commercial courses but later pursued educational ministry instead. She earned a Bachelor’s of Science in education at St. Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Indiana, in 1963 and a master’s in education at the University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana, in 1968.
From 1946 to 1970 Sister Ann Therese spent 24 years as a teacher in elementary education. In 1970 she transitioned to serving as a receptionist or office assistant in schools, 10 years at Holy Cross School and 33 years at St. Joseph High School, both in South Bend. Whether in the classroom or the school office, she was known for her keen understanding of children and adolescents. Students and staff loved her. Sister was shy, some say timid, but she bore herself with dignity and grace, a lady from head to toe. Her bright eyes and open smile made her approachable. A parent wrote, “In her simplicity she was a role model for religious life, particularly for the teenage kids in the high school she loved.” In all her 68 years of ministry, she served only in Indiana and Illinois. In July 2014, she retired to a full-time ministry of prayer at Saint Mary’s, Notre Dame, Indiana. Hers had been truly a hidden life. She had lived her life quietly as a consecrated woman religious following Jesus Christ. Sister Ann Therese loved God with all her heart, soul and mind. And she did her best to love her neighbor as herself. (Adapted from the obituary by Sister Catherine Osimo, CSC)