Sister Anna Boland, MM

Born: April 7, 1927
Entered: October 14, 1949
Died: October 6, 2010

Sister Anna Boland died on October 6, 2010, while visiting her sister, Peg, in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. Anna was 83 years old and had been a Maryknoll Sister almost 61 years.

Anna was born in Armstrong, Iowa on April 7, 1927 to Rose (Quinn) and Thomas E. Boland. She had two brothers and three sisters.

Her early education was crafted in Iowa in a one-room schoolhouse with eight grades where her oldest sister, Kay, was her teacher. Anna attended Strawberry Point Public High School, graduating in 1944. She then studied nursing, graduating in 1948 from Mercy Hospital in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

On October 14, 1949 Anna entered Maryknoll in Valley Park, Missouri from St. Mary’s parish in Strawberry Point. At Reception she received the name Sister M. Ann Fidelis. She made her First Profession of Vows on May 8, 1952 at Valley Park. She then came to the Center in New York. Mother Mary Joseph was very ill at the time and Anna was assigned as her nurse. Anna always felt that this was a special period in her life, and perhaps a deciding factor in the Community’s awareness of her nursing skills, demeanor, intelligence and her potential to become a doctor. She made her Final Vows on May 8, 1955.

Following her Final Profession Sister Anna was sent to Good Counsel College, where she obtained a B.S. in biology. This prepared her for admittance to St. Louis University Medical School in 1958 where, in 1962, she obtained her M.D. degree. A year before her graduation Anna was awarded a Fellowship Grant from Smith, Kline and French for a three-months study at the Maryknoll Clinic in Pusan, Korea. She did her internship at St. Vincent’s Hospital in NYC and her Residency, and training as a surgeon at Carney Hospital in Boston, MA.

Sister Anna was assigned to Korea in 1965. After briefly studying the Korean language, she assisted in the setting-up of the Operating Room in the new Maryknoll Hospital in Pusan. From there she was sent to a landlocked central province where she worked in a very busy rural clinic for the poor farming communities. It was here that Anna made her mark as one of those legendary Country doctors.

Anna’s medical services were always accompanied with compassion and loving care. She had a particular gift of noticing individual people’s needs while treating them at the clinic. On Saturdays and Holidays, she and Pat Arathuzik would set off on foot, laden with medicines, clothes and food to outlying villages to attend to the sick and needy. She was a magnificent doctor, but her greatest joy came from selflessly meeting their other needs as well.

It was in Jeung Pyeong that she implemented the first Child Health Care Program that reached out into a large surrounding area. For this, Anna was awarded a Korea National Citation. In addition, with Rose Guercio, she started the much-needed Insurance Plan for cash-needy local farmers.

She was always on call to treat snake bit patients. Anna was not only known as the expert in snake bites locally but also along the Pacific Rim. Eight Army doctors came to learn from her.

She wrote several papers on the subject of snake bites. I think that the only patient she ever lost was the man who bit the snake who bit him! On many days 100 patients would pass through her hands. She never sent a patient away and never said she was tired. She rarely talked about herself. It was “the other” that mattered.

Anna had an unusual sensitivity to the beauties of nature, a keen sense of color, and of song and music.

In 1985 she saw that Korea had become more and more developed and sophisticated enabling us to leave Jeung Pyeong in 1990.

In 1992, Ann received the Alumni Merit Award from St. Louis University Medical School. Among other kudos was written: as one who has given signal evidence of the St. Louis University influence in promoting God’s greater glory and the welfare, temporal and eternal, of men and women.

After receiving this award Anna said, “It is compassion that can put things into perspective, and mission is the communication of compassion.”

After leaving Korea, Anna joined the Development Department to engage in Mission Awareness Promotion ministry serving in this ministry until her death.

Her companions on their promotions journeys were in awe of Anna’s memory for remembering names, connections, relationships, even addresses. Just about everyone she met – and that was a lot of people – she wrote a postcard to afterward. “Dear So and So, I have not forgotten you. Love, Anna.” And she meant every word of it.

Anna was an attractive person, intelligent, and prayerful. She was at ease with the poor and at ease with the rich, friendly with the young as with the elderly, comfortable with Bishops, and SPF Directors, because she was at ease with herself.

The gospel chosen for today’s liturgy is about the last judgment. Anna’s life is the testimony that she will pass the test.

* I was hungry – she served at the soup kitchen at Dorothy Day’s Shelter in NYC;
* I was thirsty – she gave them wine;
* I was a stranger – she took them all in;
* I was sick – examples too many to mention;
* I was naked – she took bundles of clothes to the needy.

Words are not adequate to do justice to her person or to her life. One can’t help think that after meeting God she will surely take her place among the angels and saints, sit down and write God a postcard saying, Love You with a heart bursting with gratitude, Love Anna.

We are happy to welcome Father Mike Duggan, MM, who will preside at our Eucharistic liturgy.