Journey from Mother to Sister

Written on: September 5, 2012

Sister Anne Mattson married, raised a family, taught in Catholic School, assisted the Grey Nuns in the formation of a congregational Associates group and entered the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart at the age of 57. Here, her daughter shares her memories of one of the many paths of her mother’s spiritual journey.

As far back as I can remember my mother was called to serve those in need. She helped in our local parish, took in foster children, and visited house bound elderly every week. She was a schoolteacher and athletic coach and worked in camps in inner city Philadelphia. She was always willing to set aside time and energy for those who needed her to listen and be present.

It seems to me that she always had a calling to be a part of a religious order of sisters. As the years passed, she was devoted to our family, but could not deny the calling to serve alongside the sisters. In was during this time of deep reflection that I believe the Holy Spirit came to her and ignited the idea of starting an Associate order for the Grey Nuns. I clearly remember her reading Hands to the Needy, at times devouring the content. The book told the story of St. Marguerite d’Youville, the foundress of the Grey Nuns. It seemed for weeks at a time she carried that book around and it was always present next her bed.

My mother felt a kindred spirit with Marguerite D’Youville. It was a powerful bond. It was from this flame of deep spiritual calling and connection that she was given the blueprint on how to make it happen. I remember her excitement, her seriousness in writing things out, her going to meetings, her being consumed by the power of creating this new initiative. It felt like she was carrying a candle. Gently lighting the way from one stepping stone to the next.

I did not fully understand what she doing, but I admired her for her conviction. As a young girl, around the age of 12, a part of me thought it was quite unusual. At times I worried about what it all meant. But the grace of Marguerite must have fallen on our home because I never felt a dislike for her endeavor, only a sense of acceptance. I did think at times my Mom was a little weird, like when she was designing an outfit that the Associates would wear. She designed it and made it herself. I remember her putting it on and looking at herself in the mirror. All I could think was “Wow that is so NOT stylish. How could you walk around wearing THAT?” But she liked it and did wear it.

I also remember her excitement and joy when it all came together. I remember her traveling to meet with other Associates from other orders. From a young girl watching from the sidelines, she seemed to do it all so easily and with such clarity. She taught me once again, as she has so many times, hold tight to your vision, have faith, and God will show the way. She has always been right about this.


Mary Ann Mattson is the daughter of Sister Anne Mattson.  We thank her for sharing this experience of her mother’s journey with us.  If you would like to learn more about our Grey Nun Associates, Click Here.


2 thoughts on “Journey from Mother to Sister

  1. Nora G Lotin '75 says:

    once in the site I decided to see what else was here. Glad to see the notes from Mary Ann concerning her mother.
    They are two women whose stregnth gave me example to follow during 2014, a year where I lost my grandmother, my highschool coach and my father. Viva love and compassion.

  2. Sister Mary Karen Kelly GNSH says:

    Thanks, Mary Ann, for your sweet remembrance of your pioneering Mother.
    Ann Mattson was indeed special as I came to appreciate in later years when she actually entered the Grey Nuns. I remain touched by your generous acceptance of your Mother’s vocation. Blessings on you and yours.

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