Sister M. Anna Clare Meyer, OSF, passed away at age 105 on January 26, 2021, in the same month that she became the eldest member in the nearly 152-year history of the Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Heart in Frankfort, IL. She had just celebrated 85 years of religious life in 2020. Sister Anna Clare attributed her inspiration to enter the postulancy at age 20 to her 8th grade teacher, Sister Petronia Kohlbecker, who encouraged her to find a quiet place where she could daily pray to know God's dream for her.
Although beginning in domestic ministries, Sister moved on to be a clinical lab aide, a position she filled for 30 years. She then served part-time in the Apostolate of Presence, taking every opportunity to extend the hands of Jesus to the sick and lonely. She visited the patients, listening to their stories, giving them encouraging words, holding their hands when needed and praying with them. She brought the compassion of Christ to many.
Sister Anna Clare retired in 1990 at the age of 75, but she continued to be very active in the community, enthusiastically participating in congregational and outreach activities. At the age of 80, she learned to use the computer. She was always present, praying with the community, singing with the choir, and keeping in touch with family and friends through letters. Each day, it was important to her to share the theme of the Gospel with someone. Her inspiring endurance and hope amid more than a century of life’s challenges touched the lives of many.
At her 105th birthday celebration in September, caregiver Alicja Kowalska said, “I am so honored I can take care of her. She’s a very special person to me. She’s so thankful, and many times I hear her say aloud, ‘Thank you, God, for sending me Alicja.’ Twelve years I have cared for her. She melts my heart.” After her passing, when asked what she learned from Sister Anna Clare, Kowalska said, “Sister Anna Clare taught me to reuse everything possible and never waste time.”
“She was a ‘do-say-pray’ kind of Sister,” added caregiver Sandra Py. “What we do, what we say, what we pray, doesn’t come easy. She lived her life trying to get better at getting closer to what Jesus asks of us. She told me she always was starting over. Every day—sometimes every hour.”
Sr. Anna Clare was one of 11 children. Her brother James, 99, joined her in death the day after her passing, with his daughter Barbara Jacquemin’s reassurance that he could take Sr. Anna Clare’s hand to guide him into eternal life. And so it was.
“Sr. Anna Clare became a notable attraction at St. Francis Woods during her retirement,” said Sr. Joyce Shanabarger, FSSH Community Leader. “The young ones who came to sing to the Sisters and the adults who worshipped with us always gravitated to her. Her complete interest in life and her sense of hospitality were welcomed by all. She will be missed.”
Sister is survived by nieces, nephews, great nieces and great nephews. She is preceded in death by parents Anna (Senn) and Daniel Meyer; brothers Walter, Alphonsus, Richard, Eugene, Leo, Carl, and James; and sisters Rose, Stella and Marguerite.