Vocation Stories


Sr. Ann Parker, IHM

“Come, follow me”

"Come, follow me" – These words of Jesus invite the disciples to enter into relationship with him in fulfilling God's mission. Come, Ann I also invite you! This is the constant call that motivates me as I begin each day with prayer at five a.m. It's a cherished time, providing the necessary focus that sustains me in my on-going relationship with God. Coffee provides a jump start as I light my candle, reminding me of God's presence when I enter into this special time of reflection. The daily Scripture readings set the stage for my contemplation of how the message applies to me and whatever is happening in my life of discipleship.

An advantage to my place of ministry is that I live in a town which includes a boardwalk along the Chesapeake Bay. I extend my prayer time with an energizing walk as I pray the rosary along the way and reflect on the blessings, crosses and challenges that are part of life for everyone. During this pondering time I bring to prayer all the people I love and am concerned about. I ask for the graces needed for tasks of the day and to be able to respond to others with awareness that, I am "sent to be a clear and understandable prophetic witness of the presence of God in the world" (IHM Mission Statement).

I take seriously my vocational call as a Scranton IHM. I have lived out that call as primary classroom Teacher, Principal, Director of Religious Education and Youth Ministry and now as a Pastoral Associate. I have come to discover that my life must be rooted in God and the Gospel as I strive to share in his redeeming mission.

Since I live and work singly as an IHM, I have learned to adapt my lifestyle in a way that is different from what I have previously experienced while living with Sisters in community within a convent setting. Although I don't participate in community prayer, sharing in household tasks and discussing aspects of ministry with other Sisters on a daily basis, I feel so connected to them in new and different life-giving ways.

I travel to North Carolina three times a year to participate in a Mission Group of ten Sisters, known as the Light Bears. These times of prayer, discussion on community issues, sharing our stories of life and ministry and just being together are special times of IHM bonding for me.

I live in the Senior Apartments, located a block from the parish where I work. The residents are respectful of who I am, and being present to them in my comings and goings has presented many opportunities to reach out to them as a Catholic and a woman religious. I look forward to my daily encounters with faith-filled parishioners who inspire me with their presence, prayer and support. I treasure moments of quiet time before the Blessed Sacrament and rely on the Eucharist to sustain me.

Many of my weekdays are spent planning and facilitating the events and activities that occur within the life of the parish. Exploring possibilities for committee work and programs always makes me realize how the creative work of the Spirit energizes me with a passion for the mission of Jesus. I work closely with the Faith Formation Program by offering presentations during the seven annual retreats we provide for children and parents, mainly for Sacrament preparation. I facilitate a monthly session for parents and other interested parishioners called "Fostering Faith Together". I also prepare interactive sessions during the year for Whole Community Catechesis on relevant topics designed to help promote a greater understanding of the faith. Some of these include Advent, Lent, Mary, Rosary and a Church Tour.

The duties of a pastoral associate are probably different in every parish. Sunday is the day most of the people to participate in the life of the parish. I value that time in order to be a welcoming, hospitable presence to them. I make sure all bases are covered for liturgical celebrations and consider my "back of the church" ministry to be of great importance. I am usually involved in coordinating or facilitating gatherings for adults or just being present as needs arise.

On Tuesdays, I wander across the property to offer my presence and support to the Ladies of Charity who operate a food pantry for the needy in our area. I am always so inspired by all that they do and with the respect they show to whoever walks in the door. As their "spiritual advisor" I have discovered that they are the ones who enhance my spirituality.

Many evenings are spent working with committees as they engage in their work of making the parish come alive spiritually, socially, and educationally. I prepare the prayer for meetings, which includes faith sharing questions on the Sunday Gospel. This has been an enriching experience. On Friday's I facilitate a small group Scripture sharing on the readings for the upcoming Sunday.

I keep in touch with the sick and elderly through personal contact at church, by making phone calls and maintaining communication when people receive the Anointing of the Sick. People know that Sr. Ann will be lighting a candle and remembering them in prayer during surgery or at times of personal or family crisis. I believe that it is this compassionate touch and outreach to people that empowers me to "follow the way of Jesus". For me, it's what the Gospel and mission of Jesus call me to do and be. I have come to realize how spiritually "poor" many people are today and it is this faith poverty that I feel called to address in my ministry.

Another dimension that has become part of my days as an IHM is assisting women who have accepted the invitation to journey with our Congregation as Associates. I have worked with a group in North Beach for over two years. They have made their formal commitment and our monthly gatherings continue to inspire and energize me. There is a bond of support and mutual IHM passion for mission that has emerged and it is exciting to be part of this new venture in our Congregation. These women are currently joining me in working with a new group from Archbishop Neale School in LaPlata. Although our Sisters no longer minister there, the promise of new IHM life is emerging.

My days as IHM are full of life and possibilities. I am grateful to God for the gift of vocation that enables me to be about the mission of Jesus in the world today.

Sister Ann currently serves in Volunteer Outreach for Spiritual Formation in Bethesda, MD

Ann Parker - North Beach Come and See