October 18, 1915 — January 12, 2013
Anne Elizabeth Feth was born on October 18, 1915, to Vincent Feth and Mary Agnes (nee) Flynn in Columbus, Ohio. She was baptized on November 7, 1915, in Sacred Heart Church, Columbus. On June 9, 1924, she was confirmed in St. Leo parish also in Columbus.
Anne began her long educational journey graduating from St. Leo School in1936. She kept her report cards from fifth to eighth grade undoubtedly as a memory of her happy days there. While at St. Leo she took music lessons at St. Joseph Academy in Columbus. In a 1922 recital, Anne performed Chopin's Valse Op. 34.1. It marked the beginning of her interest in music in general and liturgical music in particular. She went on to attend St. Joseph Academy, graduating in1933.
During her high school days Anne decided to become a Sister of Notre Dame. She said she did so for two reasons; “her desire to assist in the work of the Sisters of Notre Dame and because she liked the spirit existing among the Sisters of Notre Dame.”
Anne entered the postulancy of the Sisters of Notre Dame on October 1, 1933. She entered the community’s novitiate March 24, 1934, taking her father's name for her religious name. As Sister Vincent she would be known until 1968 when she resumed her baptismal name. Sister pronounced her first vows on March 28, 1936 and her perpetual vows on September 13, 1941.
Anne’s ministries found her very well prepared. Her first degree was awarded at the University of Dayton on August 1, 1940. An MA degree was obtained on January 12, 1958, from Xavier University in Cincinnati. The major in both degrees was in History. Sister pursued many courses at Ohio State, St. Louis University, Missouri, Xavier College, Chicago, Illinois and finally in a summer program visiting historical sites and studying American government in the Virginia, Maryland and the DC areas.
In 1937, Sister Vincent began her teaching ministry at St. Peter and Paul School in Reading, Ohio. She went on to teach in Dayton, in the Notre Dame Country D ay School,1938 to1939; at Holy Angels School, 1941 to 1942 and finally at Julienne High School,1949 to 1951. Columbus claimed Anne for many years, first at St. Patrick School, 1939 to 1942, and finally St. Joseph Academy, 1951 to 1962.
In that year Sister moved from the classroom into administration. From 1962 to 1966 Sister was principal at Notre Dame High School for Girls in Hamilton. Prior to 1966, the school for girls and Hamilton Catholic for boys were the only catholic high schools in the city. In 1966 until 1968, Sister Anne became Vice Principal of the two schools when they were merged into Badin High School. The Hamilton Journal described the merger in a January 2000 issue as “And then there was one.” Sister Anne’s quote had a slightly different take on the merger. She stated, “We had lots of hope in that building.” Today the new Baden High School continues to serve over 450 students.
After that administrative experience, Sister shared her gifts and talents of administration to her own community. First, Anne was local superior in the Rich Street Convent in Columbus, from 1968 to 1975 and then in the Notre Dame community in Chicago from 1975 to 78. Sister also served as a member of the province administrative team.
Throughout her long teaching career she was first and foremost an historian in the classroom. In 1944 she had written an article for the University of Dayton newspaper Exponent dealing with conditions in Puerto Rico. Her condensed version appeared later in the Catholic Digest. In the America magazine of December 6, 1952 her short article under the title “Feature X” appeared. Sister reflected on how the season of Advent had become so commercialized. Fifty years later substituting 2012 for the date her reflections were still relevant and even more so.
As a teacher of the Problems of Democracy course, Anne was able to share her deep concerns for those problems. She wanted o be sure her students were aware of the social teachings of the church. A former student, Mary K Hummel, wrote in her column “From the Margins” which appeared in the Columbus Dispatch what she had learned in that class. "…Sister Vincent SNDdeN at St. Joseph Academy in Columbus, Ohio was the one who introduced me to the social teachings of the church. I can still remember my shock when she introduced the church's teachings on just war. "It was then, for the first time, that I heard anyone suggest that the use of the atomic bomb might have been immoral.”
When sister was no longer involved in teaching, she found many outlets for her own concerns and hopes for the questions of social justice. She served as secretary on Civil Rights Council in Columbus areas. She was also active in the Office for Immigration and Refugee Settlement Services. Her contacts with many as a caseworker assistant were very valuable to her. As moderator of the Alumnae of St. Joseph Academy for many years she was able to keep in close touch with former students.
One great gift which Sister left to her religious community was her thesis when she received her degree from Xavier University in 1958. Entitled “The History of the Sisters of Notre Dame in Columbus, the First 50 years, 1855 to 1905” it is the definitive work on that chapter of Notre Dame in America. Its value was recognized not only by the Sisters, but in the Columbus Dispatch of March 5, 1967, Bill Carter in his column; “Columbus Vignettes” wrote expressing his appreciation for Sister’s work. “Sister Vincent Feth of the sisters of Notre Dame is the author of the well researched and beautifully written history of her order’s first 50 years in Columbus, 1855 to 1905. I am most grateful to her and to her work about the St. Joseph Academy, established a by the order in 1875.”
Anne, however, summed up her gift to us in the conclusion to her thesis. "Thus 50 years of the educational work of the Sisters developed into many faceted jewels whose brilliance reflected the efforts of some 170 women who were happy to remain anonymous as long as they did bring God's truth, beauty and goodness to part of the world.” In so many and very touching ways, Sister Anne Feth carried on that tradition which she had described so well.
The Sisters of Notre Dame embrace her family members, many friends and devoted students in their prayers, We will all miss her even as we rejoice with her going home to the good God she served so well.
Sister Louanna Orth, SNDdeN
January 12, 2013