Sister Joseph Angela, now chancellor and director of administration for the Diocese of Owensboro, raves about the job Sister Margaret Ann did.
“She was the most capable, talented person I’ve ever worked with,” Sister Joseph Angela said. “She’s very intelligent and could figure out things on her own. She wrote our own payroll program when we first got computers in 1982.”
While Sister Joseph Angela would not have foreseen a ministry such as Hope House for Sister Margaret Ann, she knew she loved children.
“She was very sensitive to the needs of children,” Sister Joseph Angela said. “She had a lot of illness in her family and I think that made her more sensitive.”
Sister Margaret Ann spent her last five years in the business office also being the liturgist for the Motherhouse. “I’ve never done just one thing since I quit teaching,” she said.
She decided she wanted to do something with liturgy as the next step in her career. From 1990-92 she was pastoral minister at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Decatur, Ill. “It was a very active parish. I helped computerize their collections and data base,” she said.
Sister Maureen and she had been friends for years, but they had never lived together. In 1992, Sister Maureen was moving to Memphis to be diocesan director of music, and she asked Sister Margaret Ann if she could find a job there as well. That job was as a pastoral minister at Saint Ann Church in the suburb of Bartlett, Tenn.
In 1995, an opening at Hope House came and Sister Maureen urged her friend to apply. She recalled that Sister Margaret Ann had said years before that she’d like to work with children affected by HIV.
“I don’t know where that desire came from,” Sister Margaret Ann said. “When I was working at the Motherhouse and the academy had closed, I was talking about an orphanage for children with HIV.”
She never thought she’d end up working in a day care center. “I thought I was applying to be the business manager or accountant,” she said.
She served as the administrative director from 1995 until the director left in 1998, then she took over as day care director. Her title changed to assistant executive director in 2000.
“I relate better to children,” Sister Margaret Ann said. After she graduated in December 2006 with a master’s degree in early childhood development, her confidence grew in running the day care.
“I intuitively knew some things, but I didn’t have the schooling to back it up,” she said.
Her commitment to Hope House traces to her Ursuline roots.
“It’s never been just a job,” she said. “That’s the Ursuline part, the Angela (Merici) part. It’s a ministry here and now.”
Betty Dupont, executive director of Hope House, said Sister Margaret Ann’s commitment to Hope House is beyond what any other staff member’s could be.
“She was here when the doors opened,” Dupont said. “Without that level of commitment, I don’t think we would be alive today. I’m so grateful for the support of her community allowing her to be here.”
Dupont handles more public relations, fundraising and community involvement, while Sister Margaret Ann does the day-to-day running of the day care center. The two have a good relationship, if not always a smooth one.
“We struggle because we’re both about the same age and both strong women and we have definite ideas about how to care for our children,” Dupont said. “But in the end, that struggle helps us come out better.”