2013 Jubilarian – Anne (Michael Ann) Wisda
Sister Anne Wisda first thought about becoming an IHM when she was in sixth grade, but it wasn’t until the end of her senior year in high school she knew for sure. She told her parents (before they bought her graduation gifts she wouldn’t need) and entered the summer after high school graduation.
“I had an interview with Mother Teresa McGivney and that finalized my decision,” she proclaims. “She seemed to be filled with compassion and love for others and was so gentle.”
Sister Anne taught in the primary grades for 12 years. At the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis, she was sent to Florida to teach Cuban refugees. Most of her 50 first-graders did not speak English and she did not speak any Spanish.
In 1969, she was sent to Minnesota, where she ministered as the religious education coordinator. One of the teachers told her about her work with the orphans in Vietnam through Friends for All Children and asked if Sister Anne would like to go with her sometime.
She got approval to travel to Vietnam where she ministered in four nurseries for one month. A few days before Christmas, they brought back three infants and two toddlers who had been adopted by American families; she still hears from a grateful family.
Working in Vietnam changed Sister Anne forever and set her on the path to continue working globally.
“It was an awareness of the injustices of poverty and war. So many people in our world do not have the basics to live, while others have so much.”
Sister Anne became the first director of the Refugee Resettlement Program at Catholic Social Ministries in Oklahoma City. Her ministry with Indochinese refugees took her to Korea and the Philippines. For eight years, she worked tirelessly to process thousands of refugees into the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City. They came from 20 ethnic groups and spoke 18 different languages.
“The state of Oklahoma became a little United Nations, a place where life could begin anew for thousands of refugees and a place where even former enemies could live together in peace,” she notes. She feels that, “World peace is possible if we can just learn how to deal with each other.”
While in Oklahoma, Sister Anne was invited to be the IHM mission education coordinator. After the mission center closed, she became coordinator of the IHM Justice and Peace Office. In special projects during these years, she related with the people of Haiti.
Sister Anne looks at her years in the IHM community with gratitude. “The greatest joy is that you are never alone. Each one of us has the prayers and support of one another and if there is any need for discernment or prayer or action, we can always turn to our community.”