Ann Marie Ghiloni, CSJ

We Remember Her In the blueness of the skies and  In the warmth of summer
February 10, 1940 – July 8, 2018

Introduction by S. Betsy Conway:  As you will hear from the readings Ann Marie has chosen, the Good Shepherd was a comfort to her during these days of illness and dying.  We know that God shows us how loved we are through the people who shepherd us through the sorrows and joys of life.  Ann Marie’s sister Carol has been one of these shepherd’s in Ann Marie’s life.  She will now share her reflections.

 On behalf of my sister and brothers, we wish to express our sincere thanks and appreciation to the Sisters of St. Joseph and the staff at Bethany Health Care Center for their caring, compassion and support throughout Ann Marie’s illness and particularly during these last few weeks.  It’s impossible to individually thank all the sisters, family and friends for their prayers, love and encouragement but at the risk of forgetting someone, there are a few people that deserve mention.  To Sister Jackie, Kathy, Rita, Laurie, Hannah, Gina, Kelly, Jeannette and Arlene, we can never thank you enough for caring not only for Ann Marie but for your thoughtfulness in assuring that her family’s needs were also met.  To Sister Pat who saw that Ann Marie’s final requests were fulfilled and for the many hours spent at her bedside during those final days. Sister Dorothea whose friendship and support were so valued not only by Ann Marie but by her family as well. To Sister Prudence, who was missioned with Ann Marie for 33 years.  How can we ever thank you for all you have done for Ann Marie; how many sisters have their own personal laundress.  You have been there through the good times and during those difficult and challenging times. You are and always will be a member of our extended family. To our family nurse, friend and confident, Joanne – you are always there when needed. Finally. to Fr. Kevin O’Leary, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to celebrate Ann Marie’s Mass today.

 To all the sisters who stopped by daily to spend a few minutes; share memories, say a prayer. We will forever cherish your kindness and thoughtfulness as we sat vigil at Ann Marie’s bedside. 

 Ann Marie loved being a Sister of St. Joseph.  I don’t think she ever really envisioned herself being anything other than a Sister of St. Joseph. Her decision to enter the novitiate, was however tested early on with the sudden and unexpected death of our father three weeks after her graduation from St. Clement High School.  At the time of our father’s death, Ann Marie was the oldest of 6 children.  Could she really think of devoting her life to God and leave behind her recently widowed mother and 5 younger siblings?  Entering the convent in those days meant no longer being able to return home for visits, holidays, family gatherings etc. After much deliberation and with the blessing and support of our mother, Ann Marie’s true calling to serve God was realized when in September 1958 she entered the novitiate of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Framingham. 

 Once Ann Marie answered God’s call, all family contact was limited to those once a month visits. My monthly requests to have the first Sunday of each month off, prompted my nurse manager to question if my sister was institutionalized?  As we all know the rules gradually began to change and by the 1970’s we could finally take her out to dinner, but it had to be outside the Archdiocese of Boston; thank goodness we had relatives in Maine and Connecticut we could visit. 

 The 1970’s and 1980’s continued to be a time of change for the Sisters of St. Joseph.  When the sisters were given the option of dropping their religious name and returning to their given name; Ann Marie followed suit. Sister Francis Anthony became Sr. Ann Marie. 

 When our nephew, Mark was born, Ann Marie dropped several hints to let my brother, Francis and his wife, Janet know that she could now be a godmother.  They got the message; being godmother to Mark was a role she truly cherished.

 Ann Marie was born a teacher and never missed an opportunity to share her pearls of wisdom. During her various missions, she educated countless children.  While serving as principal of Sacred Heart, North Quincy, it was important to her to maintain a constant presence for the children, taking time to read to the younger children on a regular basis.  It would be unusual to walk into her office and not see a child asking her a question, explaining a problem, or just wanting to tell a story. 

 In recent years, she served as Spiritual Advisor for the Catholic Daughters of the Americas, Court St. Clementine.  Members valued and benefited from the many spiritual reflections she prepared and shared with us; not to mention the number of times she reminded me that we needed to re-read our mission statement whenever she felt our discussions were going astray. 

 As late as this past week, the teacher in her came through loud and clear when both Sharyn and Joanne were given very explicit instructions on the proper way to unwrap the paper on a popsicle. Others were given directions on how to water her plants.  She took great pride in pruning and caring for her many plants and flowers.

 As is the case with any teacher, books were very important to Ann Marie.  She had a tradition of gifting each niece, nephew, grandniece and nephew with a new book in celebration of a special day.  Even during her final days, she did not miss a beat.  I had my orders; she supplied the title and author.  I was to order the book on line and be sure Eddie received it for his Birthday. 

 Ann Marie loved to travel.  She always looked forward to exploring new places. The 2014 trip to Italy with family and friends will forever be one our most memorable. 

Two months later, Ann Marie was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  Surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatments became part of her everyday life for the next year.  She weathered it all, eventually returning to work and continuing to work full-time at the office of Sponsored Ministries until the cancer reoccurred this year.  But this time, the cancer took more of a toll on her.  She had to leave Fontbonne Convent and become a resident at Bethany.  In retrospect, it was fitting that her final home as a Sister of St. Joseph be on the grounds where her journey began 60 years ago.

 Her last visit home for Easter Sunday dinner was especially memorable.  In our hearts we all knew that this would perhaps be the last time Ann Marie would be able to participate in our holiday dinners at our family home on St. Clements Road.  The day was made even more memorable; it commemorated the first family picture to include the latest addition to our family, 9-month old Abigail.

 During the past 3 weeks, she gave us all the greatest gift, the chance to say goodbye.  We prayed with her, sang with her, laughed with her and thanked her. 

 The number of people whose lives she touched was evidenced by the steady stream of visitors who stopped by to sit silently for a few minutes, share memories or offer a prayer.

 Ann Marie’s pain and suffering have ceased.  God’s eternal love has welcomed her home.  She will be missed but we are consoled knowing she is at peace.

 Given by S. Ann Marie’s sister, Carol .

July 11, 2018