sister mary ann lavin

(Sister Evelyn Paul)

Joy-filled, compassionate, generous

“I was blessed to do my student teaching with S. Mary Ann at St. Mary's in Bridgeton, Missouri. She was a fabulous teacher … What a lovely, caring, joyful sister!”
 - Sister Helen Alder

Mary Ann Lavin was born January 21, 1932, to Harold and Sarah (Yates) Lavin in Kansas City, Missouri. Eventually the family included two daughters and four sons.

Mary Ann entered the Sisters of St. Joseph September 15, 1949. She received the habit and the name, Sister Evelyn Paul (her parents’ middle names) March 19, 1950.  As did many sisters, she continued her education through summer and Saturday classes. Her bachelor’s degree in art was awarded from Fontbonne College (1965).

Sister Mary Ann’s ministry began with teaching primary at Nativity of Our Lord, St. Louis (1952).  She taught primary and intermediate classes at St. Mary’s, Bridgeton (1962) before transitioning to art/developmental reading, drafting, and religion on the secondary level at Reicher Catholic High, Waco, Texas (1965).

Sister Shawn Madigan lived with her at Reicher High when they put on a twenty scene Broadway production of Camelot. “Mary Ann was an artist gifted in many media as well as a seamstress who could design clothes. She and her small variations of art classes were in charge of all stage scenery as well as design and sewing of the cheap versions of knights’ and ladies’ wear for the musical…. The production needed 95% of the school to participate in crowd scenes and as chorus, soloists and stage crew. The remaining five percent were the ticket sellers, ushers, cleanup crew … Her ready smile and a sense of adventure to just jump in the water and hope we can swim made her a joy to live with and a friend to cherish.”         

In 1970, S. Mary Ann began a long-term ministry of teaching art and religion at St. Teresa’s Academy, Kansas City, Missouri. My fondest memories of Mary Ann include her compassion, care and understanding as well as her many talents. She was a fun loving, joy-filled and great person to live with in community. When I made my final vows at the academy in October 1974 Mary Ann created and silk screened all of the program covers for that special day (a colored copier or computer printer didn't exist at that time). She spent hours doing this so that each one would dry to perfection …” – Sister Pam Harding.

Other memories from Kansas City days:

“I experienced Mary Ann as a very dear person, very committed to the community and concerned about the ‘dear neighbor.’”– Sister Ann Pace

Despite battling with depression, Mary Ann was the most empathetic, kind, and generous of all of us. – Sister Barbara Jennings

 “‘God knows how to get my attention.’ Mary Ann repeated this over and over as we took in a beautiful sky or scene along our road trips between St. Louis and Kansas City.” – Sister Suzanne Giblin

  ... as volunteer at St. Teresa's Academy, I was often surprised to find Sister Mary Ann's artwork gracing a wall or occupying a niche, and I realized how talented she was … – Sister Rosemary Flanigan

 After a sabbatical year (2000), S. Mary Ann volunteered at St. Teresa’s working with archives for the school. Two years later she volunteered as a driver for CSJ Care of Kansas City.  

Nazareth Living Center, where she carried out her ministry of prayer and presence, has been her home since 2004.

Sister Joan Kaucher, care staff at Nazareth Living Center, writes: “Sister knew every word of most songs and sang them when she was at a music activity program. She was always very grateful for anything given to her or done for her. She also loved her chocolate. From letters I've read … she was able to bring [out] artistic talents of so many of her students … She loved children and animals.”

Helen Oates, CSJ

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