Sister Ann Marie Boyce
It seems more than fitting that we gather to celebrate the life of Sister Ann Marie Boyce in the Church still decorated for Christmas, still celebrating the birth of Jesus in simple and humble surroundings. For Sister Ann Marie was that kind of person – one who enjoyed the simple pleasures of life and never sought the spotlight, or put herself forward. She also had great devotion to our Blessed Mother and died on the Feast of Mary’s Solemnity, January 1, the octave day of Christmas. What a Christmas surprise she received – the gift of life eternal in God’s embrace, said Sister Ann Casper in her commentary for Sister Ann Marie Boyce, who died January 1, 2019, at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. She was 88 years old and had been a Sister of Providence for 71 years.
Sister Ann continued: Sister Ann Marie Boyce was born in Mary’s month, May 1, 1930, in Richmond, Indiana, the youngest of three daughters born to Walter J. and Marcella Issen Boyce. She was baptized Patricia Ann.
Interestingly enough, her two older siblings were born at home, but despite being born amid the Great Depression, little Patricia Ann was delivered in the hospital. Her older siblings, Eileen Rose and Marie, were respectively 8 and 6 years older than she. Reportedly down through the years, they would tease Patricia Ann and tell her she was the “favored” child because she didn’t have to share a bicycle or wear hand-me-downs. Both her sisters preceded her in death. She is survived by nieces and nephews and their descendants, extending out to great-, great-nieces and great-nephews. We offer our sympathy and prayers to those nieces and nephews who are present with us today: Pat, Linda, Maureen and her husband Tom, John, Mary Lou and Christine.
The story goes that she exhibited a strong will at an early age. On one occasion when she was in preschool, her two sisters tried everything to get her to smile for the camera, but she refused to be cajoled into a smile. Once the camera was put away, she grinned at both of them.
Sister Regina Marie McIntyre grew up with Patty, as she was called, and they attended St. Mary’s School together in Richmond. She remembers her as a bright and eager student, kind and generous to others. She was loyal as a friend and their friendship lasted through elementary school, high school years at the Providence Juniorate, and through 71 years as band members in community.
Patty entered the Congregation of the Sisters of Providence on January 7, 1948, and professed first and perpetual vows on Mary’s Feast of the Assumption, in 1950 and 1955, respectively. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College and a master’s degree from Indiana State University. During her 71 years as a Sister of Providence, she ministered in schools for more than 40 years as primary teacher, principal and administrative assistant. The majority of those years were in Indiana, with a few years in North Carolina and in California.
On several occasions while Ann Marie was stationed out of state, the family would gather up their phones and meet at Aunt Marie and Uncle Joe’s house because their home had a telephone jack in each room. On the appointed date, the family would troop in, pick a room, and plug in. “We would all take a turn talking to her while the whole family would listen in. This was pre-speaker phone era. It was much like a private party line!”
According to sister’s niece, Maureen, ‘our mother cautioned my brother and me to never call her Aunt Patty. Always call her Sister Ann Marie! When we were in our teens, however, John and I saw that she abbreviated her signature on a note and we very cheekily started calling her SAM. She was never called SAM in public – only within family gatherings. She realized SAM was a term of endearment and graciously tolerated us.”
Maureen also mentioned that Ann Marie “developed serious card playing skills as a child and learned to play poker on the front porch. I especially remember one instance when she walked into my mother’s house sometime in the 70s, wearing lay clothing but still wearing a short, modified veil. She immediately took off her veil headpiece, placed it on top of a lampshade, and proceeded to the kitchen where we all gathered and said, ‘Deal me in.’ She was a fierce competitor and we all wanted her as a partner in the games. How she would laugh and chuckle when she made a bold move! I know she continued to enjoy playing cards in her later years and even pursued a competition between herself and the computer in the game of ‘Free Cell.’”
Ann Marie returned to the Motherhouse in 1986 to be administrator of Providence Hall for four years, and then again in 1999 permanently. Her service continued as driver, companion to the sick and phone room operator.
Her good friend, Sister Martha Joseph, recalls that Ann Marie ministered in countless other ways in addition to those officially recorded. “She almost always said yes to anyone’s request for help. She was lovingly generous, totally dependable, and a faithful friend to many. She was actively serving her sisters until a few days before her death.”
Sister Gloria Memering, another good friend of half her lifetime, feels that Ann Marie revealed the goodness of God in so many ways. “She was a generous, good Sister of Providence, a ‘community woman,’ whether at prayer, ministries, recreation, transporting the sick. We could count on her joyous spirit to show up for the good of the individual and the whole.
“And, yes, she had to be a little ‘bossy’ to make a difference in our lives by all the responsibilities she assumed for the common good. She noticed things, and took charge to help!”
Sister Gloria continued, “I treasure the memory of our summer trips after classes at ISU: Four of us thoroughly enjoyed seeing nature’s wonders as well as family and SPs living at a distance. And I’ve long forgiven her for the time, while on the road, she accidentally shared her pink bottled hand lotion instead of ‘Pepto Bismol!’”
I’ll close this commentary with Sister Gloria’s wish for her good friend: “Ann Marie, may you enjoy God’s goodness and the perpetual vacation that is heaven. We thank God for your precious presence among us.”
Funeral services for Sister Ann Marie took place on Friday, Jan. 11, in the Church of the Immaculate Conception at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.
Memorial contributions in Sister Ann Marie’s honor may be made to the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.
We welcome you to share your memories of Sister Ann Marie in the comment section below.
Sister Ann Marie Boyce
Teacher for 40 years at schools in Indiana, North Carolina, and California.
In Indiana: St. Ann, Indianapolis (1950-53); St. Mary, Lafayette (1953-55); St. Suzanna, Plainfield (1959-64); St. Ann, New Castle as principal and teacher (1967-77); St. Jude, Indianapolis as assistant principal and teacher (1977-78); St. Paul, Sellersburg as principal and teacher (1978-85); Sacred Heart, Terre Haute (1996-99).
In North Carolina: Blessed Sacrament, Burlington (1964-66); St. Therese, Wilson (1966-67).
In California: St. Anthony, Gardena (1955-59).
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