Sister Margaret Ann Wilson (formerly Sister Ann Gerard)
“Remember this – a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. For God loves a person who gives cheerfully. And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. … Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will break out in thanksgiving to God.”
— Reading: Second letter of Paul to the Corinthians (9:6-11)
This celebration of life of Sister Margaret Ann Wilson allows us to “break out in thanksgiving to God,” for I believe it is safe to say that we have all experienced her generosity and kindness. One friend commented that “her love, care and wisdom were amazing.” Another, “I was in awe of her compassionate care. She would anticipate needs before they were known by anyone else.” Another commented, “She was ‘on call’ her entire life because she never stopped being there for others. Even when she was not well herself, she was looking out for others.” And a co-worker, “She sure managed to touch another’s heart in small but meaningful ways! … always finding a way to give and serve … I learned through her lived example that truly it is ‘in giving that we receive,”’ said Sister Ann Casper in her commentary for Sister Margaret Ann Wilson, formerly Sister Ann Gerard, who died Thursday, December 7, 2017, at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana. She was 89 years old and had been a Sister of Providence for 71 years.
Margaret Ann Wilson was born Dec. 16, 1927, in Oklahoma City, Okla., to Granville B. and Marguerite Busken Wilson. She has now been reunited with her three brothers: G.B. “Bud,” Charles and Edward, who preceded her in death. Her current families of nieces and nephews, as well as the Busken cousins, were very special to her.
Margaret Ann attended grade school at Corpus Christi in Oklahoma City and started high school there, but graduated from Providence Juniorate here at the Woods. She entered the Congregation of the Sisters of Providence on Jan. 9, 1946, and received the name Sister Ann Gerard, returning several years later to her baptismal name. She professed first and final vows on Aug. 15, 1948, and 53 respectively. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College and a master’s degree from Indiana State University.
Sister Margaret Ann Wilson
Teacher for 43 years in schools in Illinois, Indiana and Oklahoma.
In Illinois: Our Lady of Sorrows, Chicago (1948-53); Immaculate Conception, Chicago (1962-71); St. Angela, Chicago (1973-1997).
In Indiana: Saint Mary-of-the-Woods Village School (1953-54); Cara School, Terre Haute (1971-73).
In Oklahoma: Immaculate Conception, Tulsa (1962-65).
Of her 71 years as a Sister of Providence, she ministered as a teacher for 43 years in schools in Indiana, Illinois and Oklahoma. She started teaching primary grades in Chicago and must have been pretty good at it, because within five years she was teaching grades 1, 2, 3 and 4, at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods Village School. She also taught at the Cara School in Terre Haute for two years with children who had disabilities, no doubt calling upon her compassion and care to a greater degree. While teaching first grade at St. Angela Grade School, she received a Heart of the School award in 1993 from the Archdiocese. Her longest teaching assignment was at St. Genevieve’s in Chicago, where she taught first grade for 24 years. Sisters who lived with her during those years would tease her that “a reward for any child doing something was ONE Cheerio!!!” Given what we have experienced of her kindness and generosity, we know that was a bit of an exaggeration!
Beyond her loving care of the young children whom she taught so well, Sister Margaret Ann had a natural skill and concern for the sick. She ministered in the Motherhouse infirmary for eight years, from 1954 to 1962. Sister Mary Ann McCauley, a young sister at the time, recalled “being in awe of her efficiency running second floor, her compassionate care, and her speed.” Sister Joann Quinkert, another young sister at the time, mentioned that “Ann Gerard had to be a saint for putting up with some of the goofy things we did as young sisters while helping out in the infirmary.”
When Margaret Ann retired from teaching in 1997 at age 70, she was a natural to transition to an assistant in holistic health care for the Chicago area. She accompanied sisters to visits to doctors and looked after their pre- and post-surgery needs, a position she filled with her usual attentiveness and compassion for 13 years. When asked in a questionnaire about how the ministry affected her life, she replied “My life is full of uncertainties. I have to always be available.” Sister Jo Paolinelli wrote of her experience, “The best thing I can say about Wilson (this is what some of us called her) is that she was always there and ready to help. I had four surgeries on my back and both knees replaced and in all six Margaret Ann was the last face before surgery and the first when I awakened.”
When she retired again to the Motherhouse at age 83, she served as companion and later as outpatient volunteer in the Clinical Care office. Beth Collins, director of Clinical Care, shared “She was so loyal to her service in the clinical care office, even up to three weeks before she died, always anticipating the next need, whether it was more band aids, supplies, distilled water, a commode, medication refills, or providing Chex Mix for everyone to snack on.”
Sister Regina Gallo described Margaret Ann as “a woman of true purpose, who lived a life of purpose all the way up to the end.” One sister commented as Margaret Ann was dying that “she was practicing what she had preached.” And Beth observed, “Sister has left a space in the shape of a heart, for us to carry on and share with others.”
Margaret Ann, thank you for literally “being there” for your family, the children you taught, the sisters you lived with and cared for with such a generous, compassionate and kin spirit. Go forth with this comment from your dear friend Carol Reuss, “She was a willow of a woman with titanium strength, and I would love to have a replay of her welcome to Heaven.”
Funeral services for Sister Margaret Ann took place on Monday, December 18, and Tuesday, December 19, in the Church of the Immaculate Conception.
Memorial contributions in Sister Margaret Ann’s honor may be made to the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.
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