Wednesday, June 12, 2024
Concordia Sisters of St. Joseph

Concordia Sisters of St. Joseph

Loving God and neighbor without distinction: A pontifical institute of women religious of the Roman Catholic Church


Eulogy for Sister Anne Martin Reinert — Aug. 13, 1931 – June 8, 2022

VIGIL: June 13, 2022, at the Nazareth Motherhouse
EULOGIST: Sister Judy Stephens

Maxim 55. Be nothing to yourself and be utterly given to God and to the neighbor.

Sister Anne Martin Reinert was born on Aug. 13, 1931, and was baptized Irene Catherine Reinert. Her parents are Anna (Geerdes) Reinert and Theodore Reinert. She was the second of nine children, all born at home with the help of a midwife that was her aunt.

Her siblings are: Mary Ritter (deceased), Madonna Cully (deceased), Wilfrid Reinert, Caroline Jacobs, Janet Berger, Dennis Reinert, Katherine Fitzgibbons (deceased), and Ruth Reinert.
Irene grew up during a time of drought and dust storms in Kansas. The family produced their own food. Their mother made their clothing from flour sacks. They had a gas lantern for light in the evenings. Her Dad said that she “cost the most” because by the time she was born they needed a washing machine and a sewing machine!

Some of the things that impacted her greatly as a child was her own frail health caused by chronic tonsillitis. She suffered from earaches often and pain in her legs. Her Mother would not let her play too hard so that she wouldn’t cry at night with pain. Later her tonsils were removed, but their influence stayed with her.

When her youngest sister Ruth was still a baby, her mother Anna became ill with rheumatic fever and was in bed for six weeks. Irene, being the oldest daughter at home now, took on the responsibilities of being mother, nurse, and tending to all the household chores. Her older sister, Mary, was attending high school in Wichita with the Precious Blood Sisters, but was there to help when she came home.

Irene’s entire childhood was spent in the small rural community of Seguin, Kansas. Her First Communion was memorable. She said her hair was cut really short for the event, and a classmate’s hair and veil caught fire as they came to the altar to receive the Eucharist! Thankfully, the priest was able to put it out!

Praying the rosary and litanies was a family tradition, especially during May and October. Sometimes they sat on the front porch and could see the Milky Way take form while they prayed.
Irene’s vocational call is most striking. She said “From early days when brothers and sisters would tease me of boyfriends, my mother would say that I would be a ‘Sister!’ I believed this to be true and resisted as much as I could. I would avoid saying the prayer for vocations whenever I could, because somehow I was afraid God would want me.”

Her parents strongly believed that their children should receive a Catholic education. She attended the public high school in Leoville that was taught by the Sisters of St. Joseph. Her teacher was Sister Alexine Marie who taught “how vocations come about.”

On hearing this instruction, Irene promised herself that she would never enter the convent! She finished high school at the public school in Hoxie, so no longer feared religious life. Except she continued to avoid saying the prayer for vocations.

After graduation, Irene when into nurses training at St. Mary’s Hospital in Manhattan, Kansas. This led to classwork at Marymount, and she said, “Again I found myself confronted with the possibility of a religious vocation.”

Sister Clement Marie, her counselor, asked her if she had ever thought she was being called to a religious vocation. Irene said, “It was as if she read the secret of my heart, of what I feared most.”
Sister Clement Marie invited her to Concordia and to visit the Motherhouse.

After that visit, Irene wrote, “The time arrived and with a mixture of tears and homesickness,” I could “no longer fight the inevitable.”

In 1949 she asked permission of her parents by writing a letter and placing it under her father’s dinner plate on Christmas Day. It was indeed a special dinner and a special day.

Irene entered the Sisters of St. Joseph on Sept. 8, 1950. On March 19, 1951, those who received the habit with her were: Sisters Mary Evan Griffith, Benedicta Moeder, Ann David Averill, Josetta Augustine, Leah Smith, Cecilia Green, and Rosalyn Juenemann. Irene was given the name Sister Anne Martin. Of this group, Sister Cecilia Green is here in the name of all of them. Of her band members she commented that Sister Benedicta and Sister Leah both showed a generous, loving way to die.

Sister Anne Martin was assigned back to St. Mary’s hospital in Manhattan. She found it hard to balance her studies and prayer. She received her nursing degree from Marymount College in 1955 and made her final profession the same year.

Her first mission was as a night nurse at St. Mary’s hospital, again in Manhattan. She recalls two special events while missioned there. Sister Fidelis arranged to take four of them along with sack lunches to Pilsen, Kansas, to visit the hometown of Father Emil Kapaun. Sister Kathleen Flood was the driver. Upon reaching the farm house where he had lived, his Mother greeted them and invited them in. After their visit and as they were leaving, she gave them a black knit shawl that was his. They removed a tassel from the shawl and divided it among them and Sister Anne Martin placed hers inside her profession cross.

Another special event was a road trip to visit the new hospital in Belvidere, Illinois.

In 1965, Sister Anne Martin was assigned to St. Joseph Hospital in El Paso, Texas. She traveled there by train, arriving the next day “in a dry desert where even the cactuses were dry,” she said. She felt emotional and homesick, but in time “grew to love El Paso and the people.”

In her writings she reflected about the years following Vatican II when so many changes were taking place. Especially difficult for her was when sisters chose to leave the community. She said each time it was like another funeral for her. At times she wondered if she should also go. During this very trying time she sought counsel from her regional coordinator and from her spiritual director.
A turning point for her was when a dear cousin, Peter Reinert, who was ill with polycystic kidney disease, needed a kidney donor. She found in herself a strong desire to be his donor. With that she said, “I began not only to have the desire to live, but to be the one who would donate the kidney. It made sense that I needed to get on with my life …. I began active participation in my own life….”
She felt much support from the Sisters in Concordia and sought out employment and living. She was accepted into one of the initial small group living homes. She was given permission to be a kidney donor, although that never came about.

These events seemed to be the turning point in her life. She began to “take active part in discovering myself first as a person who is loveble, and then as a person who voluntarily was living a vowed life in a changing community.” And that “God is Love!”

Sister Anne Martin then became part of the initial staff that started the Alcohol and Drug Treatment Program at St. Joseph Hospital in Concordia. This was a “most joyous nursing experience.” When that program closed because of lack of funding, she was offered a sabbatical year in 1984. She attended the CREDO program of theology courses at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington.

Upon returning to Concordia, she and Sister Mary Esther Otter were invited to help start St. Clare House in Junction City, Kansas, with Sister Viatora Solbach. While there, she worked the evening shift at the hospital in order to provide income for St. Clare House.

Later she and Sister Susan Kongs lived together and were asked to have a novice live with them, which they enjoyed very much.
After 17 years working at the hospital in Junction City, Anne returned to Concordia in 2002 to assist with the elderly sisters at the Motherhouse under the direction of Sister Francis Cabrini. She also enjoyed this very much.

In 2006, Anne went home to Seguin to care for her elderly mother. She said ,“What a blessing it was for me to be there for her in the last moments of her earthly life.” Her mother died Nov. 22, 2007. She returned to the Motherhouse to live on 4th floor.

Sister Anne was appointed as Community Life Coordinator for the Sisters at Mt. Joseph in July of 2009. Of this ministry she said, it “always kept me busy but I loved every minute of it.” She visited each sister every day, accompanied them to doctor’s appointments and responded to their individual needs.

When Anne was no longer able to drive and tend to the Sisters’ needs, Sister Janet LeDuc became the Community Life Coordinator at Mt. Joseph.
Sister Anne Martin moved to Stafford Hall in March 2016, now needing nursing assistance. She said that she still needs “to downsize the many things I have carried from one mission to the next!” But her real mission was to nap and to pray. She closed her remarks with gratitude for everything.

Sister Anne Martin died peacefully on the afternoon of June 8, 2022.

I will close with this scripture from the gospel of Matthew: ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ Mt. 25; 21

To make an online donation in honor of Sister Anne Martin Reinert, click the link below.


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