Sister Flora Ann Hirsch, MM

Born: February 16, 1918
Entered: September 6, 1944
Died: December 25, 1992

On December 25th at 3:10 a.m. in our Maryknoll Center, Sister Flora Ann Hirsch was born into the City of God. During this Advent season, knowing that her illness was terminal, Flora Ann prayed: “Jesus, Jesus, come to me, all my longing is for Thee.” Sister Flora Ann’s desire was granted to her by our Faithful God. She went home to heaven on Christmas Day to celebrate her best Christmas ever.

Flora Ann Hirsch was born on February 16, 1918 in Medford, Wisconsin. She was one of 6 children of Vincent August and Annie Mary McDonell. Her sisters are Mary and Margery, and her 3 brothers, Alan, Donell, and James. In this close-knit family she was called Waa-Waa, the oldest and the best!

She went to Holy Cross School and Jefferson Public School and graduated in 1932. In 1936 Flora Ann graduated from Medford High School. She attended Mt. Mary College, Milwaukee, Wisconsin and graduated with highest honors in June 1940, majoring in Chemistry. She continued her education at St. Mary’s Hospital School of Medical Technology, Madison, and received her Certificate as a Registered Medical Technologist in February 1942.

In June 1944 Mother Mary Joseph wrote about her admission to Maryknoll:

“The young lady seems to be a very promising candidate and we trust she will be happy with us.” Indeed, Flora Ann was happy in Maryknoll. Recently she shared with a friend: “I grew up in a beautiful family and I have had 48 wonderful years in Maryknoll. What more could I ask for?”

Flora Ann entered Maryknoll September 6, 1944 at the Center; at Reception she was given the name Sister Anne Vincent which she kept until 1968. She made her First Profession of Vows on March 7, 1947. The same year Sister Flora Ann was assigned to the Philippines where she spent 19 years of her missionary life. During this time she fulfilled her ideal of becoming a foreign missioner and was able to help the poor to have a “better chance in life, both spiritually and physically.” Flora Ann taught Biology and Religion at Maryknoll Academy in Lucena, Philippines. She made her Final Profession in the Philippines on March 7, 1950. Sisters who lived with her say that she was very deeply “spiritual” with a great deal of “earnestness and sincerity.” “To live with her was a particular pleasure.” She was a community oriented person and her generosity was greatly admired. She was animated during her entire life by a beautiful spirit of faith and charity.

During 1951 Flora Ann was assigned to St. Joseph’s Hospital at Victorias Milling Company, Manapla, Negros, Philippines, where she served as a medical technologist and was always concerned about her co-workers and their families.

In 1966 Flora Ann returned to the Center, and again, worked in her profession of Medical Technology and shared her many talents in community. From 1972 until 1976 she lived and worked at Bethany. With the opening of the Maryknoll Nursing Home in 1978, Sister Flora Ann was appointed Director of Medical Records. During this time she had the opportunity to deepen her relationships with our older Sisters and to form new relationships among those with whom she worked. Her generous and compassionate spirit took her beyond her own limitations in reaching out to others in friendship. She expressed her friendship both in ordinary ways like sewing, typing, letter writing, and in her own special way of being present while accompanying others. Flora Ann always had a deep sense of quiet prayer and in recent years was drawn to the practice of Centering Prayer. She took time in God’s presence and prayed her ‘mantra’ with a keen awareness of God.

One of the expressions of Sister Flora Ann’s fidelity to God was through her faithfulness to her beloved family. As a sign of her love for them she had made four special requests for the time of her death: that her face be covered with the handkerchief her father had brought her from France and which bore her name; that she hold her mother’s crystal rosary in her hands; that she wear the suit given her by her sister Mary; and that she wear the pearl earrings given her by her sister Margery. This is our Sister Flora Ann, delicate and sensitive until the end.

In her life she harmonized our fragile humanity with the power of God present in her. Her child-like spirit made her trust in God’s providence and prove true the quotation that was written below her picture on our Center Bulletin Board:

“Death is to know whose arms enfolded us all our life.”

Now with Flora Ann, let us rejoice in her encounter with God whose arms now enfold her forever.

We offer our deepest sympathy to the Hirsch Family. We welcome our brother Father Alan Ryan, M.M., who is here to accompany us today to celebrate the Eucharist of the Resurrection.