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Release Date: 11/11/2013

Sister Mary Ann Eultgen honored as "ageless and remarkable"

Sister Mary Ann Eultgen

Sister Mary Ann Eultgen (Photo by Jerry Naunheim Jr.)

Sister Mary Ann Eultgen, Pastoral Care, was honored Nov. 10 by the St. Andrew’s Resources for Seniors System at its 11th annual Ageless-Remarkable St. Louisans Gala. The gala paid tribute to 19 age-75-plus adults, including Sister Mary Ann, who are living proof that retirement doesn’t have be synonymous with slowing down.

Faith, hard times shaped life of Sister Mary Ann Eultgen

Many of us are facing hard times, but they’re nothing new. Just ask Sister Mary Ann Eultgen, a Sister of Christian Charity who in 2009 celebrated her 60th Jubilee.

A chaplain at St. Anthony’s since 2001, Sister Mary Ann reaches out to patients who are bruised, broken, frightened, hurting, worried or angry and touches them with compassion and understanding. She credits her deeply religious mother, Carrie Eultgen, with helping to shape her decision to spend her life as a sister and teacher.

Mary Ann was one year old and the youngest of five children when her dad, Charles Eultgen, died from angina in 1934. Her mother found a job at the old Knapp-Monarch manufacturing company repairing items such as toasters, irons and electric blankets. Each day, while riding the streetcar to work in south St. Louis, Carrie Eultgen prayed the Rosary for protection for her children. She had great faith in God, and often called to Mary for assistance.

“Her husband had died at age 38, and she had five kids,” said Sister Mary Ann. “She could have thrown in the towel, but she had faith. It’s faith that gets us through life, pulls us through the downs in our life.

“Good things always come out of bad, but we don’t always know what those good things are,” she added. “Those good things may happen five years from now, and there’s a reason behind that. We’ve got to listen to God’s voice when He talks to us: a gentle thought in our minds, a gentle feeling.”

An avid sports fan, Sister Mary Ann grew up in the shadow of Sportsman’s Park in north St. Louis. Because she was a tomboy and always getting into mischief, her friends and siblings nicknamed her “Moe” from a popular cartoon character of the day. Her old home and the building where she went to school, St. Augustine’s, have been razed.

“My roots are gone, but I’ve enjoyed all the people I’ve met in life,” she said. “I am a people person, and everybody brings a gift with them when I meet them. Those gifts come to me. If I meet someone who’s positive, their positive vibes come to me, and I can take those positive feelings to those I meet.”
Sister Mary Ann has a B.A. degree in education from DePaul University in Chicago, and an M.A. in religious education from Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans. She has served as a grammar school teacher in five states, a principal, a religion coordinator and a staff retreat facilitator.

With a touch, a prayer, and occasionally a prayerful hymn, Sister Mary Ann helps

patients at St. Anthony’s soothe their pain and calm their fears and experience as fully as possible the reality of God’s presence and love.

“I ask all the patients, ‘Did I include all the bases? Did I pray for all you were talking about, all your wishes, all your worries and concerns?’” she said. “Many of our patients are not just physically sick, they have problems at home as well. When we have stresses at home, it shows in our health.”

Sister Mary Ann visits not only patients, but employees. She prays with one nurse each fall that he gets a buck during deer season, and every year he attests to the power of prayer. She also is asked to bless nurses who are pregnant, and whole departments.

Recently, a Baptist minister commented on Sister Mary Ann and the generosity with which she shared her deep power of prayer. She had blessed him more than 10 years previously following heart surgery, and to this day the minister remembers her fondly and hopes that she will join his congregation.

“Whether you do it by yourself or with others, prayer works,” Sister Mary Ann said. “Everybody I meet I pray daily for them. Not by name, but God’s my secretary. He knows.” 

Tips from Sister Mary Ann: Accessing our everyday blessings

Our everyday blessings are accessible to us every day of the year, Sister Mary Ann Eultgen said.

“Everybody has blessings that they bring to one another,” Sister Mary Ann said. “You are a blessing to me and I am a blessing to you, and you are a blessing to everyone you meet and everyone you work with.”

Bringing those blessings to light, however, requires a slower pace Sister Mary Ann calls “contemplative prayer.”

“We live too fast,” she said. “We used to have manual tasks, such as washing clothes by hand or kneading bread, that provided perfect activities for contemplative prayer. We need to slow the pace of our hectic lives and turn off the TV sometimes, and stop talking long enough to listen to God.”

To engage in contemplative prayer, Sister Mary Ann sits up straight in a chair, her feet flat on the floor, her hands open and palms facing up. She closes her eyes and takes a deep breath, lets it out, and repeats. Then she recites a favorite Bible verse or prayer, such as “Father, you know me inside and out. Help me to see myself as you see me. Lead me along the path that leads to friendship with you.”

Sister Mary Ann offers these reminders for daily life:

  • Realize we’re all interconnected. “I’m part of those trees out there, and they’re part of me,” Earth, water, air – if we would just realize that, we would stop all the pollution we’re making. You can see God everywhere.”
  • Avoid negative people. “If you have negative vibes, I’m going to stay away from you for awhile, and that’s okay. Their vibes go into you, and you spread them to somebody else. Be nice to the person, be Christian, but don’t go out of your way to be in their presence.”

For those in need of a prayer, blessing or heartfelt talk, page Sister Mary Ann by calling the operator.

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