April 3, 1929 — December 20, 2011
Ann was born on April 3, 1929, to Henry and Mary (nee Chenal) Langemeier. Her mother was born in London, England and Ann was quite proud of that fact. Her sacramental life began and was nourished at St. Paul's Church located close to the first school opened by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur at 6th Street in Cincinnati. At St. Paul's Ann received Baptism on April 14, 1929, her First Holy Communion on May 16, 1937 and Confirmation on May 11, 1939.
By the time Ann had graduated from St. Paul's on June 6, 1943, she had become very acquainted with the Sisters who were her teachers. One of them, Sister Mary Edward, became a great friend. She “remembered the 6th Street convent very well and attended the novenas to Blessed Mother Julia nine weeks before May 13.” Sister Mary Edward had a great influence on all of the students but especially on Ann. “In order to visit Sister at the convent,” she helped clean there once a week. She cleaned the stairs which lead to the large sleeping rooms of the sisters and dusted the spindles on them. “Once I peeked but never told anyone.”
On June 6, 1943, Ann graduated from St. Paul's School. She had hoped to continue her association with the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur at the 6th Street Academy. Instead, she attended Our Lady of the Angels High School. Her Franciscan teachers must have sensed her desire to enter religious life. Ann had her own ideas! Shortly before her graduation, the principal called her to her office. “I told Sister I was entering the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. She asked me why I wasn't coming to them. I said, ‘You don't have Blessed Mother Julia.’ She said, ‘What does Blessed Mother Julia have that St. Francis doesn't have?’ I said, ‘I don't know, but she's going to have me!’ The principal chuckled.” Ann always had particularly warm memories of her years at OLA and kept her year book and other bits of memories in various Alumnae programs.
Ann realized her desire to enter the Sisters in Reading, Ohio. She did so on July 26, 1947, when she became a postulant. On January 26, 1948, Ann entered the novitiate. At that time she became known by her religious name, Sister Mary Winifred until she returned to her baptismal name in 1968. It was a choice no doubt made as a reminder of her mother Mary and her sister Winfred. Sister Mary Winifred made her first vows on January 28, 1950, and her final vows on August 13, 1955.
For the 46 years Sister engaged in teaching and pastoral ministry. She received an education which prepared her for her various ministries. Sister received a BA Ed from Our Lady of Cincinnati in 1960, and an MA Ed from Xavier University on September 2, 1966. Very special to Ann was the diploma she received from the American Montessori Society in 1968. Besides her degrees, she availed herself of many workshops and summer programs at Mount St. Joseph in Cincinnati; Marillac College in St. Louis; Xavier College, Illinois and The Aquinas Institute of Theology in Dubuque, Iowa.
Sister Ann’s years of teaching were usually spent with first and second graders. Her application for entrance into Notre Dame included her expressed desire to be involved in nursery day school work This she did in various schools in Ohio and Illinois. Among them were: Cincinnati at Holy Angels (1950-1951); St. Augustine (1951-1953); Sands Montessori School (1968-1970); Mason at St. Susanna (1953-1957); Hamilton at St. Mary School(1960-1966) where she taught 8th grade and was principal; Chicago at St. Robert Bellarmine (1957-1960) and Michigan at St. Eugene (1966-1968). Ann’s years at Holy Family School were marked by longevity, for twenty five years from 1970 until 1979, 1980 to 1996 and again from 1996 to 1999.
Sister taught and was very actively involved in many parish activities. When she retired from the classroom, she remained there another two years as a Pastoral minister. She remarked that it was a rather easy transition as she had taught earlier some of the ill and elderly “I am graced to visit them in their homes, in the hospital and in nursing homes where ever they may be.” she wrote.
Throughout her professional career, Ann always considered it a great privilege to be a primary teacher. Whatever she did while teaching very young children, it must have worked. She kept a small piece of paper from an eight year old boy at the Sands school. He had written a wonderful childlike observation of Sister. “I like you because I love you and you love me.” Had Ann so identified with some of Saint Julie's insights into education? She knew that Julie had encouraged her early teachers to speak softly to the children, to be kind and respect them so they would in turn respect the teacher. She wanted them to have as their preferences, the poorest and the most troublesome students in the class. Ann did that for she was kind and gentle with her students.
For her 25th Jubilee, Ann traveled to England to visit her mother's family. While there she received word that the Sisters in Namur were going on a Julie pilgrimage. She wrote, “So I got a ticket and went alone to Namur – by boat across the English Channel, then by train from Ostend to Brussels to Namur. NOT KNOWING A WORD OF FRENCH! I crossed the street, and saw another Sister not an SND, who recognized me by my cross and motioned me to come with her. We got to a corner and there was our Mother House. We went in, she smiled the whole time, then left. She was not St. Julie but she had her smile. Some day I'll meet her in heaven!”
Throughout her very active ministries, she participated in courses in Scripture, the Psalms, Prayer in the life of God's people as well as updating her religion teaching certification. Sister also attended a summer long scriptural renewal program (1963), a thirty day Retreat (1982) and finally a Graced History Retreat at Mount Notre Dame (1992). It was during that retreat that she renewed her fourth private vow to teach every child about St. Julie.
Sister retired to Mount Notre Dame but did not really retire. She continued her work of pastoral ministry to her sisters as well as becoming involved in many community services. Being with them, she shared stories about their pictures on the wall or their family members. They laughed a lot and shared funny stories, especially ones from the classroom. Sister was able to do that for some years. She even found time to write a small book, for whom else but her small children? Entitled, “Hurray for My Tomato!” it was colorfully illustrated by Sister Agnes Marie Beck.
During the past five years, Sister Ann was confined to her bed with only moments when she was conscious of the presence of others and able to respond. Her physical needs were met by our nursing staff that was outstanding in their patient and loving care. One may well conjecture that perhaps Julie was taking care of her spiritual needs. After all, who better than Julie knew what it was like to be confined to a bed and needing the care of her dear niece for everything? Could Julie refuse to care for one of her Sisters who as a first grader at St. Paul’s school had decided, “I belong to Julie!”
What we Sisters of Notre Dame know is that Ann was a very wonderful gift to us, and we thank God for her. We know that Ann is now with the good God whom she served with such love and generosity and with all those she loved in life including the Sister who helped her find the Mother House of the Sisters in Namur and of course with St. Julie.
We Sisters express our prayerful sympathy to her dear sister Winnie, family and friends.
Sister Louanna Orth, SNDdeN
December 20, 2011