Sister Anne Marita Wynne
“What an affectionate heart was hers! What uprightness of mind she possessed! I have never found anyone more candid, nor anyone who had a greater aversion for the least shadow of duplicity. Her beautiful soul was visible on her open and benevolent countenance.” (Words of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin)
“Indeed, Sister Anne Marita had a ‘beautiful soul [that] was visible on her open and benevolent countenance.’ Sister Anne Marita was not only approachable to any and all, but she was welcoming to any and all. In her quiet way, she drew others to her and embraced them warmly,” said Sister Denise Wilkinson in her commentary for Sister Anne Marita Wynne, who died May 27.
Mary Irene Wynne and her twin brother, Matthew, entered this world April 1, 1916, in St. Augustine, Ill., to Matthew and Mary (Tanney) Wynne. Matthew died shortly after his birth. She had seven other siblings. Mary Irene attended several grade schools and graduated from St. Joseph Academy in Galesburg, Ill. She entered the Congregation July 15, 1934, and professed first and perpetual vows Jan. 23, 1937, and 1943, respectively. Sister Anne Marita earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College and a master’s degree in education from Indiana State University.
Sister Anne Marita commenced teaching in 1937 at Maternity BVM, Chicago. In Illinois, she also ministered at St. Leo and Our Lady of Mercy, Chicago; and St. Joseph and Costa Catholic, Galesburg. In Indiana, her classrooms included St. Joan of Arc, Indianapolis; St. Joseph, Jasper; St. John, Loogootee; and Cathedral, Fort Wayne. Sister Anne Marita spent two years as support staff at the Spoon River Center for Community Mental Health in Cambridge, Ill. In 1984, she returned to the Woods where she spent the next five years as a part-time faculty secretary at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. She later spent several years volunteering in the Resource Center at the motherhouse.
“Sitting on a bench in the mall, in a doctor’s office, or at a performance, people always initiated conversations with Sister Anne Marita. Although she steadfastly insisted she couldn’t talk with people, it is clear people could and did talk with her. She came away from any gathering — public or private — knowing the life stories of those who sat down with her. She always remembered to pray for whatever needs they shared with her,” continued Sister Denise.
“Others always recognized her ‘benevolence’ as well. Faculty at the college named her ‘Aunt Marita,’ as did Sister Ann Sullivan’s niece and nephews. Sister Anne Marita listened to others in a way that invited self-revelation and honesty. She remembered concerns, hopes and plans shared by another with her and never failed to ask about them in future conversations. Sister Anne Marita had the knack of being non-judgmental and candid in her responses — thus inviting the other to deeper self-acceptance and more authentic living. In this attentive, loving receptivity to others, Sister Anne Marita seemed empty of ego and possessed of a listening heart.
“One of her long-time friends commented that Sister Anne Marita ‘loved being a Sister of Providence; she lived her vows with joy.’ Prayer was the essence for Sister Anne Marita — private and communal prayer, spiritual reading, Eucharistic liturgies, the sacrament of reconciliation, the sacrament of the anointing of the sick. All had a special place in her life and heart. The fruit of that life of prayer was incarnated in the manner in which she lived community life,” said Sister Denise.
“In the last few years, Sister Anne Marita has known a variety of debilitating illnesses; yet she always seemed to regain her health enough to enjoy life as she wanted to live it. During the last few weeks, however, our irrepressible sister and friend expressed a tiredness she hadn’t experienced before. In her honest, loving, candid way, she was preparing us for her death — her entrance into new Life. Her death was quiet and peaceful — exactly like herself,” concluded Sister Denise.
The Mass of Christian Burial for Sister Anne Marita was celebrated June 1, with the Rev. Daniel Hopcus presiding. She is survived by two sisters, Dorothy Wynne of Kirkwood, Mo., and Virginia Buchanan of Merrillville, Ind. She is also survived by two brothers, Francis of Rantoul, Ill., and Patrick of Columbus, Ohio.
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