Sister Ann McKee, GNSH (Sister Ann of the Sacred Heart)

Written on: September 30, 2021

Reflections on the Life of Sister Ann McKee, GNSH from Sr. Eileen White, GNSH
Funeral Mass  –  October 7, 2021 – Maternity BVM Parish

Ann McKee, formerly Sister Ann of the Sacred Heart, was born in 1941. She would have turned 80 in November of this year. She had a rough start – born premature to her mother who died giving her life. It was months before her father could take her home. Photos of her with her dad in those years show how much he loved her. Three years later, when her father married Margaret, little Ann was front and center in the photos.

Margaret became and remained “Mom” and the love between them was very strong.  Ann became a big sister eventually to Ginny, Frank, and Mary Lou. Her love for them and for their spouses and their children and her cousins is evident in all the photos she treasured. Their affection for her has been evident to her Grey Nun family across the years.

Ann met the Grey Nuns at Melrose High School. After graduation, she worked in a bank and went to Chestnut Hill College for a year before she entered the community in 1960. After joining the Grey Nuns, Ann finished her degree and graduated from D’Youville College. She later went on to get a master’s degree at Georgia State University. All that she did while teaching.  Ann taught in many parish and private elementary schools, (and they’ve already been mentioned).

Memories of Atlanta and Kodiak usually elicited from her the best smiles and stories. But she also loved all the places she was stationed. And here are some of the comments teachers wrote about Ann when she was leaving St. Raphael’s in Yardville, NJ, after seven years as a classroom teacher and another two years as a resource teacher and office assistant.  This is what they said:

I knew that Sr. Ann could always be counted on for support.  It didn’t matter if you needed to come up with an idea for a bulletin board, how to teach a lesson differently, or just to cover your class so you could use the bathroom, she was always there.

always smiling, warmly greeting parents, students; intelligent, friendly, supportive

wonderful listener; great care for all the children 

 a shoulder to cry on, a mentor, a friend to share things with.

Then there was this unusual tribute from a student reported by a principal:

Just last week, Sister was elevated to sainthood by one of our newer students.  When a group was asked who Mary’s mother was, one student answered, “St. Ann” and the newer student said, “Oh, I know her – she works in the office.  And St. Ann is Jesus’ grandmother.”  

Well, I think Ann would definitely qualify as a model for Jesus’ grandmother!

Most of us knew Ann as a very sweet, rather shy, retiring kind of person – usually well bundled up against the cold. She only seemed to notice the cold indoors when we didn’t. But Ann was brave, too, and a great organizer. She was a great listener with a unique talent for being able quietly to listen and then summarize in a few sentences a discussion that may have gone on for a long, long time.

Her good friend, Karen Marie, remembers, as many of us do, Ann’s laughter. Even when Ann seemed lost to some of us in her recent decline, she would startle us with a reaction to something we said or did that she clearly understood and found amusing.

Ann loved ice cream and angels. She also loved to make things – cross stitch and needlepoint; cute little boxes; small watercolors; tiny decorations on Christmas ornaments; baskets; lists. She loved to figure out how to do things. She was about 65 when she became a notary public. Wherever she worked or lived, if you asked her to do something she didn’t know how to do – she’d tell you to give her a little time.  She’d go away and think about it, and then she’d come back with a possible solution, a solution that the rest of us couldn’t fathom working, but it did.

When she volunteered to go to Kodiak, Alaska, Father DePaoli celebrated the departure Mass for Ann and Sr. Connie, who was heading to Peru at the same time. In his homily, he said:

“Witnessing today is common, but the kind of witness we share today with Sister Constance Welsh and Sister Ann McKee is not so common.  It is a “yes” to the unknown, and “Amen” to a call, and a promise of service for the kingdom.”

Ann answered “yes” and “amen” to the unknown many, many times in her life. She said “Yes” — to each grade she was assigned. She said “yes” to every student who had particular need for encouragement. She said “yes” to the congregation, when we asked her to become our General Secretary and later Secretary to the Administration. To the sabbatical time in Spring Bank, North Carolina, and to everything she learned and loved there. Ann always said “yes” and “Amen” to what she heard as God’s call.

The following is a portion of a letter of recommendation one of our Sisters wrote for Ann when she was applying for an administrative position in the Trenton diocese following her sabbatical:

Sister Ann is a woman of sharp intellect ever in pursuit of the good and the true, the highest and the ideal. She learns quickly and although she often appears as “laid-back” and self-effacing, she is utterly honest and trustworthy. Her style is simple; her loyalty, singular. She is a steady worker . . . . And yet – she is always generous and self-giving. 

Generous and self-giving —  that was indeed Ann.  Ann was a faithful member of the Earth Committee for many years, and in her nine years as secretary to the general administration of the Grey Nuns, she was always ready to help, no matter what the request was or when it was requested. When the Grey Nuns moved from the Motherhouse to Lafayette Redeemer, Ann also joined the book club and took care of ordering the books for them.

When Ann began to lose elements of her cognitive skills and memory, she knew, at first, that that was happening. Perhaps that was her last “Yes” to the unknown that life called her to. Perhaps St. Paul’s words to the Christians in Rome are a response to Ann’s experience of gradually becoming separated from the reality she once knew.  Paul wrote:

I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,  neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Nothing could separate Ann from love.

Ann, may songs of the angels welcome you and bring you home to the face of God

Sister Ann McKee, GNSH, formerly Sister Ann of the Sacred Heart, 79, died at Abington Hospital on September 26, 2021 in the 61st year of her religious life.

For 37 years, students in Kodiak, AK (St. Mary’s 1981-89); Atlanta, GA (Christ the King 1966-67, Immaculate Heart of Mary 1968-77); Lowell, MA (Immaculate Conception 1967-68); Jackson Heights, NY (Our Lady of Fatima 1963-66); Yardville, NJ (1991-98, 2004-06); Yardley (Grey Nun Academy 1977-81) and Lehighton, PA (St Peter & Paul 1989-91) benefited from her teaching skills.

In response to an invitation to utilize her skills internally in the Congregation, Sister served as Congregational Secretary (1998-2003) and then as Secretary to the General Administration (2006-2015).  Ann became a certified and licensed Notary Public; Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Bucks County in 2003 and retained this certification until her retirement in 2015. Her leisure activities included reading and delicate embroidery work.  Sister moved to Holy Redeemer Lafayette when the Motherhouse was sold where she continued to engage in intracommunity service and ministry of prayer.

Sister was born to Francis T. and Ann Cecilia (Denneny) McKee in Abington, PA on November 14, 1941. Her mother died in childbirth and Ann was raised by her father and loving step-mother Margaret, in Glenside. She graduated from Melrose Academy (1959) and received a BA in English from D’Youville College (1968) and a Master of Education/Elementary Education from Georgia State University (1974).

Predeceased by her parents, in addition to her religious community, Sister is survived by siblings Ginny (George) Di Ilio, Frank (Jen) McKee and Mary Lou (Bill) Jones and nieces and nephews.

Visitation at 9:00 am on Thursday, October 7th at Maternity B.V.M, 9220 Old Bustleton Ave, Philadelphia; sharing of memories at 9:45 am, funeral Mass to follow at 10:00 am. Burial in Resurrection Cemetery, Bensalem, PA.

Donations in her memory will be gratefully received by the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart. Donations may be made online to the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart, or by mail at the following address:14500 Bustleton Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19116-1188.

Services arranged by Beck-Givnish Funeral Homes, Inc.

2 thoughts on “Sister Ann McKee, GNSH (Sister Ann of the Sacred Heart)

  1. Seann Kevin Stafford says:

    In 1983-84, I was a student of Sister Ann McKee, at St. Mary’s in Kodiak Alaska.
    During that 6th grade year, I had the misfortune of falling gravely ill with a misdiagnosed appendicitis that went fully septic for over 3 days. I lost half of my body weight and the prognosis of my survival was very poor.

    I was hospitalized for several weeks, all throughout that holiday season. I was so ill, I did not care that it was Christmas, I did not care for much of anything at all. I was very close to death.

    The day after my emergency surgery, one of the post-op nurses who was attending me, noticed that I had awakened and asked me who the ladies were outside my door. I had no idea who this nurse was speaking of and drifted back to sleep. I woke up later that evening, well past visiting hours. A different nurse was on shift then, and told me that my “friends” would not leave and had been sleeping in the chairs in the hallway.
    I asked the nurse to describe them, and I immediately recognized even in my medicated state, that the mysterious women outside my door were Sister Ann McKee and Sister Diane Bardol. I then lost consciousness for 2 more days.

    When I finally awoke, the Head Nurse informed me that the ladies outside my door had finally left after 3 straight days and nights of constant and perpetual attendence. She informed me that they could not get them to leave, and that they had been very insistant on remaining outside my room and prayed continually.

    I felt the presence of our Lord with me all through that terrible experience. Sincerely, I could also feel the strength of these wonderful, loving Sisters praying for my recovery and I give them as much credit for my survival as I do the talented surgical team that somehow pulled me back from death’s door.

    I was probably not the best student that Sister Ann had that year. I was likely a frustration for her, as I was always distracting my classmates and had trouble keeping my hands to myself. It made no difference to her, she cared for all of us and was a dedicated and inspiring teacher.
    To this very day, I consider myself blessed and fortunate to have had her as a mentor in my life. I wonder if I would even be alive today if not for Sister Ann and Sister Bardol, interceding on my behalf and praying for my recovery.

    I will always love them. I can never forget them.

    Thank you Sister Ann for your love and kindness. You will always mean more to me than I can capably express.

  2. Anne Odonnell says:

    I was fortunate to have Sr. Anne as my 7th grade teacher at OLF in Jackson Hgts., NY, 1964-65. She was a good teacher, it was evident that she cared deeply for her students. She will be missed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please be aware that comments are held for moderation and may not post for up to 24 hours. We reserve the right to reject comments that are inappropriate on our website.

The Grey Nuns