As she reflects back on her fifty-two years as a Benedictine, Sister Agnes Ann Svec recalls a path to profession that included five distinct life chapters. First, she credits her Catholic upbringing. She was born in Chicago and grew up in St. Vitus parish where Benedictines taught her. Her family moved to Traverse City Michigan after eighth grade and her high school years formed Sister Agnes Ann’s second life chapter. During this period, and having grown up a ‘city girl’, she enjoyed the exposure to nature.
Chapter Three: the family returned to Chicago to seek medical treatment for Sister Agnes Ann’s young sister. During her visits to the hospital where her sister was receiving care, Agnes Ann solidified her desire to pursue nursing. The next life chapter found her in training at St. Anthony Hospital School of Nursing, an institution run by the Franciscan Sisters. Here, she discovered her passion for surgical nursing. The administrator of the nursing school offered Agnes Ann a glorious opportunity: she would take the State Boards, attend DePaul University and be offered a job in the surgical unit at St. Anthony’s.
Sister Agnes Ann’s final chapter involved her introduction to the Benedictine Sisters. While working at the hospital she came to meet two Sisters who inquired if Agnes Ann’s brother, Denis, was at the Benedictine Abbey in Lisle. When she replied that, yes, that was her brother, Agnes Ann was encouraged to visit Sacred Heart Monastery. With some hospitable follow-up by the Benedictines, Agnes Ann came to Lisle and ultimately found herself teaching Anatomy, Physiology and Biology at Sacred Heart Academy. Within a year’s time, Agnes Ann had entered Sacred Heart Convent. Several years later, when talking to her friends the Franciscans, one asked Sister Agnes Ann why she had entered the Benedictine community rather than the Franciscans with whom she’d worked for so many years. Her answer was simple: “You never asked me”.
Sister Agnes Ann’s ministry has taken on a variety of forms over her years in the Benedictine community. First, she taught the Academy, then she held the position of Guidance Director at Benet Academy until she became Administrator at Queen of Peace, the Benedictine Sisters’ assisted living community. Sister Agnes Ann also spent a year teaching in Texas. Sister Agnes Ann reflects back on her years as a Benedictine with great pride and affection. She has had the opportunity to travel extensively and use her medical training on behalf of her community. She especially enjoyed the opportunity to learn the art of stained glass when Sister Marie Anne returned to the monastery with her glass studio. Sister Agnes Ann eagerly trained to do leading, soldering, cementing, glazing and the final detail work on some beautiful stained glass windows that were designed and built at the monastery and installed in churches around the country and even overseas. These days Sister Agnes Ann is indispensable in the work she does at the monastery. She is responsible for procuring and handling all of the medication that is needed by the community and she handles all the medical bills and Medicare paperwork.
“Sister Agnes Ann was taught by the Benedictines at St. Vitas School.”
“She lost track of the Benedictines when the family moved to Traverse City, Michigan. When the family returned to Chicago in order to provide better medical care for her sister, Sister Barbara Ann, she became interested in nursing and later graduated from St. Anthony Hospital School of Nursing and later from DePaul University.”
“One day, she met Sister Immaculate who invited her to spend time with the Benedictine Sisters in Lisle. Gradually she took steps to become a Benedictine Sister.”
“We all know Sister Agnes Ann for her public speaking and reading with perfect diction.”
“We depend on her at the Liturgy of the Hours as a leader in prayer.”
“She loves flowers and for many years had a spot on campus growing a variety of colorful flowers.”
“She finds humor in the ordinary happenings in life; her sense of humor is refreshing.”
“She was a Guidance Counselor for eighteen years at Benet Academy and then became Administrator of Queen of Peace Retirement Center.”
“She helped in the St. Walburga Care Center for several years ordering medicines, advocating good nutrition and providing diagnostic services.”
“She is now spending her years living the monastic life in a more quiet way, seeking God, listening to God’s voice and keeping up with the daily horarium.”