Remembering Sister Ann Sharp, OSB
In Loving Memory Sister Ann Sharp, OSB
Charlotte Mary Sharp was born in Chicago on February 2, 1920, the second daughter of John and Helen Huber Sharp. Her sister, Virginia, was two years older. Her four brothers were John, William, James and Robert.
After attending Sullivan High School for two years, Charlotte transferred over to St. Scholastica High School. At the beginning of her senior year, on September 11, 1937, she became a postulant of the Benedictine Sisters of Chicago.
Shortly after graduation, she was received into the novitiate. At that time, she received the name Sister Ann Felice by which she was known until 1970 when she chose to use simply Sister Ann.
Her first profession was August 16 in 1939, and she made her final vows on that same date in 1942. Almost immediately after completing the novitiate, Sr. Ann Felice began her academic preparation for a teaching career. She attended De Paul University for both her Bachelor's of Education Degree and her Master's in Education. Her thesis for the latter degree was titled "The Status of the Lay Teacher in Parochial Schools". The research for this was to serve her well in the future, when she was an elementary school principal.
While still completing her studies, she began teaching at Queen of All Saints in 1940 as a member of the original faculty. After five years there as a primary grade teacher, she spent the next five years at Mother of God in Waukegan, Illinois, working with middle to upper grade students. On that level, she taught for her remaining twenty-three years in elementary education. For shorter periods of time she was assigned to St. Symphorosa and St. Joseph parishes in Chicago, again at Queen of All Saints, and at St. Lambert in Skokie, Illinois.
In the fall of 1960, she was asked to minister in Colorado where she first taught at St. Michael Parish School in Cañon City. After two years, she was asked to move to St. Joseph Parish in Salida, Colorado, where she became principal and superior. She had already held the all-grade supervisory State Certification in Illinois and now became certified in the state of Colorado.
At this period of time, the Catholic Extension Society had established a new lay volunteer program, Vista Volunteers, and a number of these young teachers joined the faculty at St. Joseph School. They were both welcomed onto the faculty and supervised by Sr. Ann Felice who became their mentor and, in many cases, a longtime friend.
During the early 1960's, for several years, she attended the summer program Benedictine Institute of Sacred Theology held at Saint John's University, in Collegeville, Minnesota. This seems to have begun a new direction for her ministry. With her term at St. Joseph in Salida completed she was asked to return to Chicago and reside at the monastery where she then served as Director of Scholastics from 1967 to 1970.
In 1968 she joined the faculty at St. Scholastica Academy in Chicago and taught theology classes mainly to freshmen and sophomores, and was senior class moderator for three years. She served as Dean from 1973 through 1978. In addition to her school involvement, she was chosen by community to be House Superior from 1971 until 1975.
Sister Ann was elected Prioress of the community in 1978 and served until 1982. During her term, St. Joseph Court, a two-winged facility, was built at the north end of the 1906 monastery building, to be the health care facility for the Sisters. As President of the community's two secondary schools, in 1981, she established as a consultative group, the Prioress's School Advisory Board.
On the completion of her term as Prioress, Sr. Ann made a formal commitment of fidelity to the Sisters, to love and support and serve. This ceremony included a blessing of Sr. Mary Ann O'Ryan who would now be following her in the role of Prioress.
As her next assignment Sister Ann was assistant to the director of St. Joseph Court helping with ministry to the sick and retired, a position she held for fourteen years.
In 1996 she began what she termed her "active retirement" spending the next many years doing some traveling including good visits to family, but mostly seeing to needs of individual Sisters, helping wherever she was needed, and daily sharing
the community life of common prayer, meals, and leisure as well as taking an active part in Chapter sessions for community discernment and all regular house meetings.
Sr. Ann's file in the Archives Department is filled with copies of personal notes and statements of commitment which she had made over the years. At the time of her 60th anniversary of vows, in 1999, Sr. Barbara Mc Carry wrote a tribute which described her as someone who was "always herself, a lady of grace, understanding, empathy, compassion, and laughter", someone for whom praise of God and the needs of others ranked first.
By the fall of the year 2007, Sr. Ann's health demanded that she needed more and more assistance so she moved into St. Joseph Court and, one might say, officially retired. In 2009, she celebrated her 70th anniversary of vows, and afterwards wrote a message of gratitude to the community for the lovely celebration. In it she said that her "thank you would be her prayer and her continued living the Benedictine journey with each and every one of you and I will continue to do just that." And this is exactly what she did.
Though mentally alert, but almost totally deaf, she enjoyed visitors, read and kept up on news. In July of 2019, her 80th anniversary of vows, at age 99, again she publicly renewed her vows.
On December 18, Sr. Ann suffered a stroke and was taken to St. Francis Hospital. Now paralyzed, it was determined there was no hope of recovery and she was placed on hospice care and returned home on December 23. She died on the morning of December 27, close to a month before her 100th birthday. Her long life was celebrated at a Mass of Resurrection on December 30 and she was buried in All Saints Cemetery in Des Plaines, Illinois. She is mourned by her Benedictine community, a number of nieces and nephews, and many good friends.