Energetic, creative, a great concern for the poor
“Throughout all my life, I have been bound up with two words, God and music.” – Sister Mary Ann Potts
Mary Ann, born in Chillicothe, Missouri, April 5, 1937, was the youngest child and only daughter of Edward and Catherine (Miller) Potts. She is survived by her brother, Henry.
Mary Ann described her parents as “very religious.” In 1956, she entered the Sisters of St. Frances, Chillicothe, Missouri. She earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary and secondary music education (1969), and a master’s degree in music theory (1975), both from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Mary Ann also earned other various certifications in theology and music. While working on her education, she lived with the Sisters of St. Joseph. “I was inspired by the sisters I lived with and their kindness, dedication and acceptance of one another.”
Sister Mary Ann transferred to the Sisters of St. Joseph, August 2, 1970. “My life as a Sister of St. Joseph has been one of joy as I have had the opportunity to serve God’s people in many settings.” Music, (she played the piano since age five) had always been a source of great joy to her; teaching others to appreciate it and encouraging young students to be better than they dreamed they could be, was pure delight. In the 1970s and 1980s, S. Mary Ann taught primary grades at Visitation School (Kansas City, Missouri); music and religion at St. Anthony High in St. Louis and at Denver Central Catholic in Colorado. “My memory of Mary Ann was her love of music, she could make a piano sing! Mary Ann was devoted to her students ...” Sister Mary Ann Figlino
She next taught at St. Joseph Academy and then Premontre High, both in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Returning to St. Joseph Academy, she was a staff member for the Development Office and then, development director. Several vacations included taking students to serve the very poor in Mexico. They visited families, lived simply and prayed together. Seeing the extreme poverty was an eye-opening experience for many of the young people.
S. Mary Ann and her dear friend, Sister Helen Rottier (now deceased), moved to Texas (1989) where S. Mary Ann taught at St. Joseph Academy, Brownsville. From 1997 until her death, she worked with students at Los Fresnos Elementary, Los Fresnos, Texas. Over the years, she produced scores of Broadway musicals with her students, including successfully adapting musicals for students as young as fourth and fifth grade.
S. Mary Ann, a happy addition to our reception of 1956, loved the children she taught in south Texas. Her delight was to engage her students with a great love of music. She worked hard to provide equipment such as drums and other instruments for their learning. She had a tender heart for them. Sister Rita Louise Huebner
S. Mary Ann Potts was very creative, energetic, hardworking, and loved life ... [While] an advisor to the Boy Scouts in St. Louis ... chaperones [were needed] for a weekend camping trip. Mary Ann roped me into this ‘ministry’ one time. As the adults huddled around the campfire all night to keep from freezing, the saying: ‘It’s always darkest and coldest before the dawn’ became a lived experience for the frozen chaperones. Sister Rita Moriarty
S. Mary Ann was also a great sports fan, especially the Green Bay Packers, the Los Angeles Lakers and the St. Louis Cardinals.
“Mary Ann was such a friendly person. She seemed to know everyone and everyone seemed to know her.” Sister Janet Kuciejczyk
In an interview for a Sisters of St. Joseph publication, S. Mary Ann said, “I cannot thank God enough for leading me to the Sisters of St. Joseph and for all the wonderful opportunities to serve Him in the poor. I could not ask for anything more.”
By Sister Helen Oates