Written on: March 26, 2019
We appreciate all who joined with us as we mourned the passing of our Sister Ann Marie (Annie) Striegl and celebrated her life of ministry, prayer and service.
At Sister Ann Marie’s Funeral Liturgy, Sister Barbara Schiavoni reflected on her life:
“She reaches out her hands to the poor, and extends her arms to the needy.” Annie embodied these words as a teacher, Social Worker, and friend and advocate for people with disabilities.
Annie grew up in a family that valued faith, sacrifice and hard work. Annie’s father was an immigrant from Bavaria, her mother a daughter of Polish immigrants. Annie’s dad had a large vegetable garden in the back yard. This was known in the neighborhood as “Striegl’s Farm.” When she was a young girl, her father would say, “Anna, take these tomatoes to Mrs. Smith down the street.” Her mother would send along a roast for families who were in need. Thus began Annie’s lifelong vocation of service.
Annie’s empathy was honed early in life. Her mother developed a serous chronic illness when Annie was in seventh grade. Annie quickly had to become a mother figure in the family, doing all the household chores and helping to care for her younger sister.
Annie went to St. Gerard’s School and Sacred Heart Academy. She knew as young girl that she wanted to be a sister and to work with the poor, but she didn’t feel called to the Franciscan sisters whom she had in school. Annie did some investigating and became interested in Mother Cabrini’s order, who ministered among the Italian immigrants in New York City.
After graduating from High School, Annie and a friend took the bus from the East side of Buffalo to D’Youville College to apply for the Cadet Teacher program. Sr. Alice McCollester welcomed the young ladies. Annie enjoyed her time at D’Youville and admired many of the sisters she met there. Annie later wrote,“If it had not been for Sister Alice’s kindness and help, since I came to apply only two weeks before classes began, I know perhaps I would never have gone to college, graduated,met the Grey Nuns, or eventually entered religious life!”
While a student, Annie admired Sr. Peter Damien for her knowledge of history, and she encouraged Annie in her studies. Annie told Sister of her interest in the Cabrini sisters,and as only she could, Peter Damien asked Annie, “Do you speak Italian?”
During her senior year at D’Youville, Annie’s father died suddenly. She took a leave from school to help her mother and siblings. After a while, Sr. Mary Theodore called asking when Annie would be coming back. Mary Theodore’s encouragement meant a great deal to Annie and helped her to get her bearings.
At this point in her life, Annie was ready to enter the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart, but knew she was still needed at home. Once things settled down, her older brother told Annie the family would be okay, and she left to enter with his blessing.
After profession, Annie taught primary grades in Buffalo and the North Country. While assigned in Potsdam, her mother’s illness returned. Annie was very grateful to be re-assigned to Buffalo so she could help her family again.
Annie was also very grateful for the opportunity to study Social Work in the early 70’s. After getting her MSW from Loyola in Chicago, she taught Social Work for a time at D’Youville but quickly knew she wanted to do direct service. She was missioned to Catholic Charities in Ogdensburg, where she worked with Sr. Rita Gleason, whom she considered her best mentor and inspiration in Social Work. After two years she returned to Buffalo to serve at Catholic Charities.
In the late 70’s, Annie and her friend Sr. Desponsata, a Felician, were chosen to open the new Broadway Office of Catholic Charities, in an area of great poverty. A seminarian interning with them wrote,
“As I have been working along with the sisters, I have seen them bring Christ into Social Work more than I thought possible. They try to bring out the best in people and lead them forward to a more human existence, and become a sign of hope and promise.”
Annie continued to serve the poorest of the poor at other Catholic Charities locations in the City of Buffalo for over 35 years, providing counseling to at-risk families, assistance with basic needs, referrals and advocacy. She was persistent and didn’t accept the run-around when trying to help someone. Annie had a heart of gold and would always go the extra mile for her clients. Even now, people she helped still ask about her at Central Intake.
Most of us think of Providence Community as Rose Mary Cauley’s project, and it was, but Annie was an integral part of its foundation and further development. In the late 1980’s, Rosie and Annie took a small apartment together on Jersey St., close to D’Youville.
As Marguerite had done over two hundred years earlier, they welcomed a woman who had special needs into their home and their lives. Some of you will remember Tracy Aldrow, a tough yet vulnerable young lady who was the first resident. Tracy was strong willed and outspoken, and she and Annie often butted heads. But Annie cared for Tracy as if she were her own daughter and they were great friends, when they weren’t scrapping.
As Rosie began planning for a larger house to accommodate more residents, Annie knew she needed step away from the direct living experience, but she never left the community. She supported the house as a long time board member, speaker, friend and advocate, and was present for all the Birthday parties, Masses, celebrations, trips and much of the day-to-day living.
Leaving Buffalo in 2015 was not easy. Annie was very close to her nieces and nephew, especially her niece Annie. She missed her work, her friends, and Holy Angels Parish, where she received daily Eucharist. The diminishment of her eyesight was another cross during these later years.
The past few months were difficult, but there were some bright spots. When Annie first entered the Health Center at Lafayette, she quickly made friends with the ladies at her table and they compared notes about Catholic High Schools they had attended.
Annie attended the Grey Nun Meeting at Lafayette in January; she participated and enjoyed the discussion at the table that was talking about St. Marguerite.
She appreciated when sisters visited her in the Health Center and was happy when she could attend Mass at Lafayette. She was very pleased when Fr. Gleason visited in the hospital and gave her the Eucharist. She liked to reminisce about Providence Community and often spoke of how much she missed Rose Mary Cauley.
Special thanks to Sisters Mary Salvadore, Mary Finnick, and Maureen O’Hara, and to Maureen Goodall, Chris Domzalski, Jane Selinske and all who served Annie during her time here in Philly.
In closing, I would like to share Annie’s words:
“My prayer is that the needs of the poor will be met and that Divine Providence strengthens each of us and gives us the grace always to be a support for the poor.”
Presented by Sr. Barbara Schiavoni
With gratitude to Srs. Mary Charlotte Barton, Sheila Stone and Sr. Mary Karen Kelly for archival assistance.
Sister Ann Marie Striegl, GNSH, 84, formerly Sister John Bosco, died March 25, 2019 in her 62nd year of religious life, at Holy Redeemer Lafayette, Philadelphia, PA. Her service as a certified and licensed social worker spanned more than 40 years at Catholic Charities in the Dioceses of Buffalo (1975-2015) and Ogdensburg (1973-75), NY. She previously spent 10 years in the field of education at St. Mary’s, Potsdam and Holy Angels School, Buffalo, NY; Christ the King, Atlanta, GA and Grey Nun Academy, Yardley, PA. In 1983 she was named Religious Educator of the Year, Holy Angels Parish. She was a recipient of a Pro Vita Award from Bishop Kmiec, Bishop of Buffalo in 2010. Sister Ann Marie was a frequent contributor to The Buffalo News, authoring several articles for the My View Column on a variety of topics and in letters to the Editor. She also had an article published in Sisters Today, Remembering – During My Annual Retreat
Daughter of the late Joseph and Helen Wyborski Striegl, she was born October 27, 1934 in Buffalo, NY. Ann Marie attended St. Gerard School and graduated from Sacred Heart Academy. She received a BS in Elementary Education from D’Youville College in 1957, entering the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart that same year. She was awarded an MSW from Loyola University, Chicago, IL in 1973.
In addition to her religious congregation she is survived by her sister Margaret Piniewski, and nieces and nephews. She is predeceased by her parents, brother, John and sister-in-law, June Striegl. Sharing of memories will be at 10:00 am in the Redeemer Sisters’ Chapel, 521 Moredon Road, Huntingdon Valley, PA, her funeral Mass will follow at 10:30 am. Burial in Resurrection Cemetery, Bensalem, PA. Services arranged by Beck-Givnish Funeral Homes, Inc.
Memorial donations in Sister’s memory may be made online to the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart, or by mail at the following address:14500 Bustleton Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19116.
Here is an article published a few years ago about Sr. Annie’s ministry:Sister Thanked for Service