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Few events are more joyful for a community than the admission of a new member to final vows. On August 19, the feast of Blessed Guerric of Igny, our Sr Anna Mary O’Meara pronounced her solemn vows to God as a Cistercian nun.
The roots of Sr Anna’s vocation go back to her childhood. As a little girl growing up in Detroit, she was deeply impressed by the Servite priests and sisters who staffed her family’s parish. In fact she loved the sisters so much that “I would stay at school until the last sister went home.” When she was nine her mother died rather suddenly, and family circumstances led her to enter the convent at the start of high school. Although she eventually left the Servites “to finish the process of adolescence,” her years with them laid a strong foundation for her spiritual life, and she remained close to the community.
During her years as a Servite, Janet (as she was then called) began her career as a teacher. She did graduate studies at Creighton and taught middle school. In the mysterious ways of divine providence she actually spent a year in Dubuque (studying Scripture and liturgical theology at the Aquinas Institute) without ever encountering either our monastery or our brothers’.
After she left the Servites Janet completed a doctorate in religious studies at the Catholic University of America. Then God brought her back to Dubuque again: she was hired by Clarke College to teach theology. She chaired the Religious Studies department for 20 years, and during this time met and married Michael O’Meara, a Dubuque native. It was a “very happy, God-centered marriage,” with both of them quite active in St Columkille’s parish; but after nine years Michael was called home to God. “I participated profoundly in Michael’s illness, dying and death – his sharing in Christ’s passion and death – and experienced a conversion that redirected my life and eventually led me to the monastery.”
In fact, it was her husband who introduced Janet to Trappist life, with a visit to our brothers at New Melleray. Her first contact with Mississippi was in 1998, when she taught some of our young sisters a course in Christology, and this encounter with our monastery affected her profoundly.