Sister Anne (Agnes) Kohl was born on January 21, 1908 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She was devoted to her brothers, Bill and Ambrose, throughout her life and in her later years longed to join them, who had preceded her in death.
After working many years as an executive secretary, Agnes entered Mount Saint Mary's Abbey as a Lay Sister in 1950, taking the name Sister Anne. Final Profession in 1957 followed First Profession in 1952. She is remembered as one who lived faithfully the Lay Sister vocation, finding Jesus in manual work, including cooking (Who can forget her blueberry pies?), laundry and mending, as well as in the recited Lay Sister Office. Attention to detail characterized each task she undertook. When Unification of Lay Sisters and Choir Sisters came to the Order, she chose to retain her status as a Lay Sister. Given her devotion to that vocation, all were struck when she chose to take a seat in choir in our newly renovated church and to participate in the Choir Office.
Reading was of importance for Sister Anne and her reading had a breadth and a depth known to librarians and some others close to her. When she was still able to use a walker, we have pictures of her reading by the statue of Saint Joseph surrounded by the beauty of nature, a beauty that often overwhelmed her.
Perhaps one word summarizes much of Sister Anne’s life: devotion. Her enduring kinship bonds and her perseverance in the Cistercian life have already been noted. Strong, too, were her bonds with those who entered her life late, including her many caregivers and her beloved infirmarian of the last ten years. Reciprocity in care and mentoring meant life-enriching experiences for many.
“Why doesn’t God take me? Has He forgotten me?” she would ask. Providence would have it that the transformation of Sister Anne and her self-gift as a Cistercian woman spanned 100 years. When she died on August 16, 2008, surrounded by many of her community, three to four generations were in the room. Perhaps that is a final witness for our age: all is not instant, now, immediate, individual. Transcendence knows a different time schedule, relationships are important, and the blessings are for all ages.