Sister Anne Flanagan
“Saint Julie was a spiritual director,” says Sister Anne Flanagan. “People came to her wanting to develop their relationship with God.”
Over two hundred years later, they’re coming to Sister Anne, too.
Sister Anne ministers to people as a spiritual director. Beginning in 1979, and after decades in the classroom, she offers on-going spiritual direction and spiritual direction at retreats.
“It’s another way of helping people find God’s goodness in their own lives,” she says.
In addition to thirty-five years of teaching throughout the Midwest, Sister Anne worked closely with the Notre Dame Mission Volunteer Program, a faith-based component of AmeriCorps. She also served as Moderator of Mount Notre Dame from 1994 through 2000.
But it’s spiritual direction that occupies her time now, and her heart.
“It’s important to me because I’ve personally experienced the benefits,” she says.
Sister Anne received her initial training in spiritual direction at the former Jesuit Renewal Center in Milford, Ohio, now a part of the Jesuit Spiritual Center. She received further training at the Jesuit School of Theology and the Catholic Theological Union, both in Chicago, and at St. Stephen in Dover, Massachusetts.
Not surprisingly, her methods of direction adhere closely to the Jesuit practice of mindfulness and of listening for God both within one’s own heart and in the experiences of everyday life.
Clients of Sister Anne have included not only Catholics – lay people, diocesan priests, members of religious communities – but also Methodists, Lutherans and others of different religious backgrounds. They’ve come for “companioning,” Sister Anne says. They’ve come for someone to walk with them in their own faith journeys, and to perhaps guide them, nudge them, into seeing God where they might not have seen God before.
Areas of “companioning” often include: What is a person’s practice of prayer? Who is God for them? Is there a discernment process happening – a call to religious life, a call to new ministry, a call for a new lifestyle?
Sister Anne offers spiritual direction from Mount Notre Dame in person and via Zoom and Facetime and also at the Jesuit Spiritual Center in Milford, and currently works with 20+ people, some of whom have been with her over 15 years.
“The highlight of being a Spiritual Director,” she says, “is just watching people grow in their relationship with God, and having what you might call breakthrough moments, or ‘aha’ moments when something happens in their lives. They begin to put it together and to see how God is working there. There are no two people alike. We all have our own unique journey.”
Sister Anne entered the congregation in 1955 and has been a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur for 66 years.