Sister Mary Ann Aman
Tribute to Sr. Mary Ann Aman
There aren’t many who can say that their birth was a surprise to their parents. But, it just so happened that Fred and Christine Ann Koncher Aman, from Perry, Iowa, were traveling in Kansas City, Kansas, on July 30, 1939. At some distance from home, they had to make an emergency stop at a hospital there for Mary Ann’s premature delivery. Her mother was from Des Moines and her father from Nebraska but her birthplace always had an explanation to accompany it. In addition to Perry, the family also lived in Madrid and Woodward, Iowa, while she was growing up. She said she learned about the Sisters of Humility from Father Nelo Leto who was her pastor at St. Patrick Church in Perry.
After graduating from St. Patrick High School, Mary Ann entered the Congregation of the Humility of Mary on September 8, 1957. A devastating fire destroyed the entire Ottumwa Heights complex – Motherhouse, Novitiate, Junior College, and Academy – just a month later on October 7. Quickly the postulants moved to Davenport for a few months, where they took classes at Marycrest College. They returned to Ottumwa when classes could resume in the former World War II naval air base outside Ottumwa, which had been largely vacant for decades. The city of Ottumwa made the facility available to the community. After major cleaning and repairs, students, faculty, novitiate members, CHM leaders and other sister-residents lived in the former Bachelors Officers Quarters (BOQ). Classes were held in several buildings and a yellow school bus transported the sisters and students between classes and the BOQ. This arrangement continued while construction of a new “Heights” campus was in progress.
The following summer (1958) Mary Ann received the habit and her name in religion, Sister Mary Doreen. She and her classmates made first vows in August 1960, at St. Mary’s Church in Ottumwa as the new buildings were still in progress. They made final vows in 1963, in the middle of Vatican II. Like others at the time, she resumed use of her baptismal name then, which was consistent with Vatican II’s emphasis on that sacrament.
Before making vows Sr. Mary Ann had received her Associate’s degree from Ottumwa Heights College which enabled her to be certified to teach in Iowa. Her first assignment was to St. Patrick’s School in Ottumwa where she taught fourth grade. She then traveled across town to Sacred Heart School where she taught third and fourth grades for two years. Then to St. Mary’s which completed her tour of Ottumwa. Following two years at Lourdes Memorial School in Bettendorf, Sr. Mary Ann went to St. Theresa School in Des Moines where she began work as a librarian, then Religious Education Coordinator for four (4) years. She took classes at Marycrest College during the summers and completed her B.A. in 1972.
In 1978 Sr. Mary Ann left Iowa and the classroom, but continued working in religious education. She advanced from a Library Media Coordinator, then to Media Consultant and, finally, Media Director in the Archdiocese of Omaha, Nebraska. With the expansion of visual and oral technology and the corresponding development of teaching devices, she engaged teachers and students in varied ways and at many levels. She was a frequent presenter at religious education institutes, speaking on new and emerging forms of media. She was a conference presenter on how literature can be used to build moral foundations for children. She also engaged in adult education. She served on the planning committee for a program sponsored by the Omaha Sisters’ Council on “The Christian Perspective on Women’s Issues”, a discussion of ministry-based, Christian understanding of womanhood. As a guest on radio programs, she spread awareness of education media to a wider and diverse audience. Sr. Mary Ann’s experience enabled her to revise library media catalogs to support and improve access to users at all levels.
In May 1991 she was honored at a farewell party by Omaha Religious Education Leaders and Coordinators (RELCO). She said then, “My greatest satisfaction has been knowing the people I’ve worked with. They have been my inspiration because they lifted me up when I was down and rejoiced with me when I was happy.” The article about this event in the Omaha archdiocesan newspaper, The Catholic Voice, said, “…many religious educators …are the ‘unsung heroes’ of their parishes. They aren’t in the spotlight, but the work they do is invaluable.”
That summer Sister Mary Ann moved to Nacogdoches,Texas, where she helped care for her mother. She taught and ministered there in religious education for ten years at Sacred Heart Church in yet, another diocese, that of Tyler, Texas.
In 2003 she moved back to Iowa and took a position in religious education in Ames for two years, then moved to St. Joseph Parish in State Center, both in the Diocese of Dubuque. As health issues made walking more difficult, she acquired a wheel chair, on which she became an excellent “driver.” Many remember seeing her pop her trunk open, walk around and remove the wheel chair from the special device on which she mounted it there. She would open the chair out, stabilize it, get in, and quickly move to her destination. Observers commented, “It was amazing what she could do from her wheel chair! She would never have been one to say ‘that’s not my job’!”
In 2011 Sister Mary Ann moved to Bishop Drumm where she was described as having a wonderful sense of humor, and loved, loved, loved to visit. Residents found an attentive ear and gentle voice as they met their own challenges from day-to-day and shared them with her. In return they often heard wonderful stories of her own.
When cleaning her room, Jennifer Worley found a clipping with a quote from St. Augustine, “Since you cannot do good to all, you are to pay special attention to those who, by accidents of time, or place, or circumstance, are brought into closer connection with you." Jennifer observed, “I think this describes Sr. Mary Ann, as she did pay attention to those around her and always found ways to make one feel appreciated and recognized.”
May she walk freely now in heaven, enjoying laughter and conversation with all those who have been waiting there for her!
Written by Sister Mary Rehmann, CHM
Memorials may be made to the Congregation of the Humility of Mary.
Sr. Aman's obituary can be found HERE...