Sister Ann Miriam Zell
“For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.” (Luke 12:34)
“Sister Ann Miriam’s death occurred only days short of her entrance anniversary. On Friday, Aug. 20, she would have marked exactly 78 years as a Sister of Providence. Now, as Providence would have it, no physical limitations impede her; she enjoys companions who always have time for her, and, best of all, is eternally with our God of Providence, the inexhaustible source of every good,” said Sister Alexa Suelzer in her commentary for Sister Ann Miriam Zell, who died Aug. 11.
Born Dec. 4, 1913, in Los Angeles, Mildred Elizabeth Zell was one of three children of Harry and Mary (Cantwell) Zell. In grade school she attended Santa Barbara Public Schools, St. Cecilia in Los Angeles, and St. Therese in Alhambra, Calif. She attended Sacred Heart High School in Los Angeles.
“Just two months after her graduation from high school, Sister Ann Miriam entered the novitiate of the Sisters of Providence on Aug. 20, 1932. Had she waited a year, she might have entered the western novitiate, which was opened in 1933. But, again as Providence would have it, she came east to Providence in Indiana in the midst of the worst years of the Great Depression,” said Sister Alexa.
Sister Ann Miriam professed first and perpetual vows Jan. 23, 1935, and 1941, respectively. She earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College.
“The midwestern world that Sister Ann Miriam entered was very new to her. The novitiate was large — quite different from the smaller family circle she was accustomed to and which she loved so very much. That year, 54 young women entered the Providence novitiate. Even in the day of plentiful vocations, that was an exceptional number,” continued Sister Alexa.
Sister Ann Miriam began her nearly five decades of teaching at Marywood, Evanston, Ill. In Illinois, her classrooms were also at St. Leo, Chicago; St. Mary, Aurora; and St. Athanasius, Evanston. The majority of her pedagogical service was spent in California. There she taught at Marywood, Anaheim; St. Ambrose, Hollywood; St. Elisabeth, Van Nuys; St. Anthony, Gardena; St. Joseph, Hawthorne; and St. Therese, Alhambra.
In 1985, Sister Ann Miriam retired from teaching and provided tutoring and parish service at St. Elisabeth Parish. “Her colleagues recall the exquisite care she took of all the appurtenances of liturgical service. During these years, it was a source of joy to her to continue her many contacts with students, parents and parishioners. She joined a senior citizen club and was a member of a mission circle. With advancing years her vision and hearing had become more and more limited, but that didn’t prevent her from phoning parishioners who were sick or alone,” said Sister Alexa.
In 2000, Sister Ann Miriam returned to the Woods for a ministry of prayer.
Sister Alexa shared, “As one colleague said, ‘She prayed a lot. And if you asked her to pray for something, she did — even returning to ask how your intention was doing.’
“Many times Sister Ann Miriam was lonely, and she was often importunate in urging her friends to come and visit. For those who took the time, the visits were fruitful. One friend wrote of her: ‘Sister Ann Miriam’s physical limitations did not limit the scope of our friendship. Together we told jokes, sent cards, made cards, read, sang, prayed and reminisced. She truly cared for me and was my faithful prayer partner. And she considered me a funny friend who made her smile,’” said Sister Alexa.
The Mass of Christian Burial for Sister Ann Miriam was celebrated Aug. 17, with the Rev. Daniel Hopcus presiding. She is survived by both her siblings, Norma Oster of Sacramento, Calif., and Harry of San Gabriel, Calif.
At this time, our site contains all Sisters of Providence obituaries beginning in 2009.
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