Sister Anne Therese Walsh, SNDdeN
January 18, 1926 – October 27, 2019
Sisters and friends who knew Anne Therese best, when asked how they most wanted her to be remembered immediately responded with words like these: friendship, singing, dancing, storytelling, fun. The source of her joyous energy? That heart of hers-- a heart that “knew how to believe and how to love.”
In 2018, as she looked back over seven-plus decades of Notre Dame life, she wrote:
Seventy-five years in the twinkling of an eye! . . .
Seventy-five years . . . experiencing so many opportunities
to pray, to serve, to love, and to be for others,
hopefully bringing God’s love for them to them. . . .
How grateful I am to God, my family, my Band,
and to all other SND de N and friends who in some way contributed in shaping my life . . . .
Now is the time for me to say ‘YES’ to all God holds for me in the future and to say once again, “Thank you, Saint Julie, for allowing me to be one of your daughters.”
As a sophomore, Anne Therese “knew” she wanted to be a Sister. “By Christmas of senior year, I knew that I would live out that life with the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur.” From her parents she received only “love, support and generosity.” From the day she entered her new, Notre Dame family in 1943, Anne Therese was blessed, she later wrote, with “strong friendships that became more and more cemented through the years.”
Her more than 40 years of parochial-school teaching began at Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal School in Ridgewood (NY). “I was thrilled,” she said, “that it was a parish dedicated to Our Lady.” Building on her solid start teaching 5th grade, she nimbly hopscotched through a wide range of grade levels and schools up and down I-95, From Ridgewood to Philadelphia, to Brooklyn, to Philadelphia again, to Baltimore, back to Ridgewood, down to Hyattsville (MD), over to Washington (DC), and back to Ridgewood again, before happily landing at St. Albert the Great in Huntington Valley (PA). Whatever the grade or the place, this versatile teacher loved, formed and delighted her young charges. One SND recalls how, as an 8th grader, she and other youngsters loved going to Anne Therese’s classroom after school - Ostensibly to be of help, but more importantly, to enjoy spending time with her! Legend has it that Anne Therese made line-dancing a favorite playground sport, and got boys as well as girls jumping rope at recess while chanting “one-a-penny, two-a-penny, three a-penny four” with gusto.
Anne’s joie de vivre energized her Sisters in community, too. SNDs who lived with her remember her as “the life of the party.” Especially appreciated was her talent for getting everyone singing favorite old songs and swapping memories of “the old days.” She had a particular love of animals that gave rise to some mixed feelings in community! (Was that part of the spiritual DNA she had inherited from St. Julie?) In her Philadelphia days, it was a somewhat neurotic Gigi who basked in her affection. When the community moved – first from Resurrection convent, then from Holy Spirit, and finally to Villa Julie, Gigi came along (as St. Julie’s cat traveled from Amiens to Namur in a basket). Upon Gigi’s passage to cat heaven, Anne Therese “adopted” Rusty, a stray cat who took up residence in the Villa garage. Given Anne’s regular visits, Rusty was well fed!
Her friendships with Sisters who had entered with her (her Band) lasted a lifetime. She carried all of them in her heart, along with the whole host of people God brought into her life:
The many wonderful Sisters with whom I have lived and the many wonderful co-workers, students, parents, and parishioners whom I have taught or met along the way . . . have enriched my life with their examples of faith, generosity, shared joy, and friendship. Hopefully I have done the same for them.
It was an exceptionally vital Anne Therese who retired to Villa Julie in 2004. Seemingly hale and hearty as she celebrated her 90th birthday in 2016 and her 75th jubilee two years later, she was, as it were, taken for granted to be a permanent, joyous presence. Perhaps that’s why her death leaves such a void.
The evening before she died, Anne Therese was blessed to participate in three sacraments – Reconciliation, Anointing and Viaticum. Asked what gospel story she wanted to use, she replied without hesitation that she loved John’s account of Jesus cooking breakfast for the disciples on the shore after his resurrection. Especially, she said, the way Jesus accepted Peter was a beautiful expression of God’s forgiveness for all of us. As the same text was proclaimed at her funeral the following Wednesday morning, the consolation it brought to her Sisters, family and friends served as a final gift from her to all of us.
She had written in 2018, her 75th jubilee year: “Now is the time for me to say ‘YES’ to all God holds for me in the future.” On Sunday morning, October 27, Jesus took her at her word. He already knew the answer, but gave her the same gift he had given Peter: “Anne Therese, do you love me? . . . Follow me!” Surely, she is safely anchored forever!
- Born January 18, 1926, New York, NY
- Parents: James P. and Florence Kerrigan Walsh
- Siblings (now deceased): Robert E. Walsh and Mary T. O’Neill
- Entered the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur August 14, 1943 (Ilchester, MD)
- First profession: January 31, 1946
- Final vows: August 31, 1951
- St. John Chrysostom Parochial School, New York
- Cathedral High School, New York
- Trinity College, Washington, DC – B.S. (Education), 1960
- The Catholic University of America, M.A. (Secondary Education), 1969
- Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, Ridgewood, NY (Grade 5: 1946-48. Grade 8: 1960-64)
- St. Bernadette, Philadelphia PA (Grades 3-4, 5-6: 1948-50. Grades 4, 5, 6: 1952-57)
- SS. Joachim & Ann, Brooklyn, NY (Grade 1: 1950-52)
- St. Ursula, Baltimore, MD (Grades 7, 8: 1957-60)
- St. Jerome, Hyattsville, MD (Grade 8: 1964-70)
- St. Francis Xavier, Washington, DC (Grades 7, 8: 1970-75)
- St. Catherine of Genoa, Brooklyn, NY (Grade 8: 1975-76)
- St. Albert the Great, Philadelphia PA (Grades 6, 7: 1976-87)
- Roman Catholic High School, Philadelphia, PA (Clerical Assistant; Substitute Librarian: 1987-92)
SND Community Service
- Coordinator, Resurrection Convent, Philadelphia, PA (1994-2000)
- Coordinator, Holy Spirit Convent, Philadelphia, PA (2000-2004)
- Community Service and Ministry of Prayer, Villa Julie Residence, Stevenson, MD (2004-2019)
-Prepared by Mary Ann Cook, SNDdeN