The summer of 2021 is a time of new directions for Sr. Ann Marie Slavin. For the past 23 years, she has ministered as the associate director of communications for the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia. As she explains, “My job basically consisted of writing and/or editing articles for our various publications. The editing is important because there needs to be a consistent style. I also wrote most of the obituaries for our deceased sisters and most recently wrote the memorials as well.” Her responsibilities extended to “checking and responding to email. . . . Some days included meetings. I also have tried to keep up with social media.”
The Franciscans have been a part of Sr. Ann Marie Slavin’s life since early childhood. Sr. Anna Mae Coll, now a resident of Assisi House, was Sr. Ann Marie’s first-grade teacher, at St. Thomas School in Wilmington, Delaware. At the time, Sr. Anna Mae was known as Sister James Bernard. Ann Marie continued to be taught by Franciscan sisters through eighth grade. Although her high-school teachers were Benedictines, she maintained her Franciscan connections through her after-school and summer job at St. Francis Hospital.
Sr. Ann Marie describes her early and sustained sense of connection to the Franciscans: “Looking back, I think what attracted me to the Franciscans was that I found them to be very positive. They seemed to make me feel that I was capable of doing things—rather than focusing on what I couldn’t do. I loved staying after school to help or, on one occasion, to go to the convent on a Saturday to help.” Another appeal of the Franciscans for Ann Marie was their strong sense of community: “I had opportunities to see them interact with one another—a factor which I think made them more ‘real.’”
Before beginning her ministry in the communications office, Sr. Ann Marie Slavin taught for 36 years, culminating in 20 academic years as a high-school English teacher at Padua Academy in Wilmington, Delaware. Her first teaching assignment was at St. Clement School in Rosedale, Maryland, where she taught fifth grade and then taught English, religion, and social studies for the seventh and eighth grades.
With the start of a sabbatical following the 1997-98 academic year, Sr. Ann Marie moved to Pennsylvania—to the convent connected with Cardinal O’Hara High School—and anticipated soon resuming her teaching. She was surprised when acquaintances told her, “Franciscans can’t teach English in Philly.” She learned that in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, different congregations were assigned to teach different subjects. But she also learned that the congregation’s communications office was at the time looking for a writer and editor—a need that Sr. Ann Marie has now ably met for more than two decades.
Ann Marie describes some of the many blessings she has found in her communications ministry: “I’ve worked with a fantastic staff. I’ve also been blessed to have met many of our sisters that I otherwise would most likely not have met. I even got to go out to Tacoma for a visit and meeting at one point. As a member of the team, I was also a member of Communicators for Women Religious and was able to attend their yearly conferences until just a few years ago. I still connect with some of the members on Facebook.”
Reflecting on her communications ministry, Sr. Ann Marie summarizes what is evident from her enormous contributions to the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia’s publications: “I do enjoy writing and have come to understand that this is a gift that I can share with others.” She will continue to express and to share her gift, especially through the poetry writing to which she will now be able to devote more time. She will give attention to her other interests, as well: “I love reading—mostly novels—and in the last few years I’ve challenged myself to aim for 100 books a year. I don’t often make it, but the challenge itself is good for me! I also enjoy listening to music and going out to dinner occasionally with friends. And believe it or not, I enjoy coloring. I find it very relaxing!”
In addition to continuing her ministry as a poet and pursuing her hobbies, Sr. Ann Marie Slavin will be exploring other opportunities to minister at Assisi House.