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Sr Mary Anne "M. Simplicia" O'Connor
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Birth: Apr. 10, 1919
Middlesex County
Massachusetts, USA
Death: Jun. 7, 2008
Fairfield County
Connecticut, USA

Sister Mary Anne O'Connor, SSND

First Profession 1939
Baltimore, Maryland

Beloved sister of Rev. Robert D. O'Connor.

On April 27, 1919, Daniel Charles and Ellen Frances (McCarthy) O'Connor baptized their first-born child at Immaculate Conception in Malden, Massachusetts a little girl baptized Anne Margaret, born less than two weeks before on April 10, 1919. The Immaculate Conception parish remained a steadfast part of the life of young Anne Margaret. It was there that she saw the baptisms of two sisters and three brothers. It was there that she attended school and first began to entertain thoughts of religious life.

In first grade, Anne Margaret was taught by Sister Helen, an SSND candidate whom she credited with planting the seed of her religious calling. Throughout the years of education she received from the School Sisters of Notre Dame, the thought of a religious vocation was never far from her mind. She received her first Holy Communion at Immaculate Conception in 1926 and the Sacrament of Confirmation four years later in the same church. Not surprisingly, in August of 1936, just two months after her high school graduation, Anne Margaret entered the School Sisters of Notre Dame candidature at Immaculate Conception. Anne Margaret and other candidates from the Boston area traveled to Baltimore soon thereafter. There, Anne Margaret met new friends, many of whom still remember the bright, smiling face they met that day. "To meet her was to make you feel you knew her all your life," one friend remembered. Her friends also remember how quickly she took to her collegiate studies during those first years. In her role as student, Anne Margaret excelled in every way. For her, learning was never a chore. On one occasion, their professor, an SSND, asked Anne Margaret to read a research paper aloud to the class. She had forgotten to bring the paper with her, but proceeded to "read" it to the class from blank pieces of paper. Throughout her educational career, Anne Margaret's instructors were always very impressed with her abilities. One sister was even heard saying that she was the brightest student she ever had. During those early days in the candidature, the serious student also had great fun with her companions. One of her friends recalls constructing a scooter with Anne Margaret out of a wooden box and four old wheels. When Anne Margaret's Sunday habit tore under a front wheel, the young women quickly patched it behind the grotto before anyone found out.

Shortly after she began her studies, Anne Margaret entered the novitiate in 1938. She took the religious name Sister Mary Simplicia. S. Mary Simplicia was professed in 1939, and she began to teach junior high at San Augustin in Puerta de Tierra, Puerto Rico just one month later. She taught in Puerto Rico until 1955, during which time she also earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in history with a minor in education from the College of Sacred Heart in Santur, Puerto Rico. In 1945, S. Mary Simplicia took her final vows.

In 1955, S. Simplicia returned to Maryland and taught secondary grades at St. Mary's Academy in Annapolis until 1964. While at St. Mary's, S. Simplicia earned her Master of Arts degree in English with a minor in Latin from Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. In 1964, S. Simplicia moved to San Felipe, Chile, where she would live for over 30 years and have one of her life's great realizations. S. Mary Anne's first ministry was as the Director of Initial Formation at "Casa Juan 23," a small community of Franciscan novices in San Felipe. Casa Juan 23 is still in existence today, a tribute to the sister who helped lay its foundations over 40 years ago.

S. Mary Anne ministered in that role for ten years, and she later served simultaneously as the Diocesan Catechetical Director in San Felipe until 1968. That year, S. Mary Anne traveled to Madrid, Spain as a student. She returned to San Felipe in 1969 and worked again as the Diocesan Catechetical Director until 1974. She then ministered as a pastoral minister in San Felipe from 1974 to 1986. In 1986, S. Mary Anne became the Executive Director of the Diocese of San Felipe.

In 1989, S. Mary Anne took a leave of absence from the School Sisters of Notre Dame, and lived with the Carmelite sisters. S. Mary Anne wrote later that she loved her time in Carmel: "The hours of prayer, the chanting of Office, the simple lifestyle, the silence and solitude." But after a year or so, S. Mary Anne realized that the lifestyle just wasn't for her. "I love to talk with people," she said, "to know what is happening in the world, and have time to unwind." She pondered later that these may have seemed to be insignificant things, but it was enough to cause her to lose nearly 15 pounds with worry. She tried to gain weight, only to lose more. It was then that she realized that, while she wanted to hold on to all the beauty of a hidden life, she heard the Lord telling her, "Enough for now." After leaving the Carmelites in 1991, she returned to Villa Notre Dame for a brief stay. During that time, S. Mary Anne said that she was touched by the reaction of her sisters. "On all sides, I have felt the hand of a loving God," she wrote at Easter of that year. "I know that my Redeemer liveth . . .in each one of you."

Shortly after the realization that she belonged with the School Sisters of Notre Dame, S. Mary Anne returned to her beloved Chile and the Diocese of San Felipe. She ministered as a pastoral minister from 1991 to 1993, as a pastoral associate in a parish from 1991 to 1998, and as a secretary from 1998 to 2001. That year, she retired from active ministry and returned to Villa Notre Dame, where she was again welcomed with great joy.

Sisters who knew S. Mary Anne remember what an amazing free spirit she was. Yet, despite her life's many wanderings, her spirit stayed true to the mission of the School Sisters of Notre Dame. May her happy, generous heart rejoice with her dear parents and friends and all SSND's who have preceded her.
Saint Marys Cemetery
Fairfield County
Connecticut, USA
Created by: AnnieSings
Record added: Feb 13, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 48076208
Sr Mary Anne M. Simplicia O'Connor
Cemetery Photo
Added by: Gracie Ann Matisyn
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 Added: Oct. 31, 2014
 Added: Oct. 31, 2014
In Your goodness, O God, raise up Your faithful people who have been buried with Your Son in baptism.
 Added: Apr. 23, 2014
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