Sister Edward Ann Wetzel, CSC

(January10, 1926 - March 23, 2012)

Word has been received of the death of Sister Edward Ann (Wetzel) who died at 4:10 p.m. on Friday, March 23, 2012, in Saint Mary’s Convent, Notre Dame, Indiana.
Most will remember Sister Edward Ann as a zealous missionary who devoted herself to improving the plight of the poor of Africa.  From the day she entered the congregation in 1948 she yearned to become a missionary.  This desire continued to grow during the 20 years she spent teaching music and home economics in various schools in the East.
Her dream was finally realized in 1972 when she was assigned to teach at St. Maria Goretti School in Fort Portal, Uganda, East Africa, one of the first high schools in the area. This assignment was supposed to be for three years but as Sister related, “I asked to stay for three more and for three more after that.  I stayed in Uganda for 34 wonderful years.”  These were productive years for her and her creative spirit had a chance to flower in the numerous projects she initiated.
The Fine Arts degrees Sister Edward Ann earned were an excellent preparation for her new work.  Her BA from Dumbarton College, and MA from Catholic University in Washington, D.C., served her well as she shared her love of music and art with her students.  Because the people of Africa have an innate love of rhythm and music the guitar club she started grew and grew. Sister’s skill in raising funds aided greatly in the success of the group because she provided these young musicians with guitars that she brought back to Uganda from her frequent visits to America. She was enthusiastic for every project and this dynamic spirit was contagious.
A further extension of her academic preparation was evident in the contributions she made when in 1987 she began working with the women of the Diocese of Fort Portal.   At the Rosa Mystica Women’s Development Center of the diocese, she taught the women sewing, crafts, music and literacy which she felt were an intrinsic aspect of their total education.  The results of this creativity produced great success and Sister proudly proclaimed, “They were very gifted in music; they won every music competition they entered.”
The groups that Sister taught kept increasing in numbers so  there was a great need to expand facilities. Sister Edward Ann taught in the church and Sister Mary De Nardis held her clinic in a small storage building.  Sister Edward Ann’s sewing classes swelled to over sixty women with a waiting list twice as long. Some of these women had never even held a needle but sister taught them so well they produced baby dresses, skirts, blouses and uniforms that could be sold.  Sister opened Mary’s Craft and Card Shop in Fort Portal so that the women could market their work.  This fulfilled one of Sister’s goals, to help these women gain some independence and enable them to break out of the deadly cycle of poverty.  In the process some also learned organizational and leadership skills by taking on the role of teacher to their peers. When the congregation began planning to build the Holy Cross Family Center in Kyarusozi, Sister Edward Ann was immediately involved working to help get the project funded.  This was destined to be two key facilities, an education unit and a health unit that has now become an outstanding success.   
Because of her outgoing and warm nature Sister was able to engage people in supporting her various projects.  Schools she visited in America were encouraged to adopt the missions and parish groups became financial friends of the one or more blossoming projects she undertook.  She kept in close contact with each group and her gratitude was unbounded.  They loved her.
Those who knew Sister said she had “a heart of gold.”  No one was a stranger to her, she welcomed everyone, particularly the poor and those in need.  It was in her nature to go out to people making them feel the warmth of her personal interest.  She could organize a party on short notice and be the “ life of the party” in her own fun-loving way drawing others into the joy of the occasion.
Sister’s deep devotion to the Blessed Mother gave her strength to carry on the sometimes arduous tasks and hardships of the missions.  This love of the Blessed Mother brought her great consolation in her daily prayer life and in retirement she found profound peace in this close relationship.  Mary no doubt walked with her as she received the well-deserved reward of a “good and faithful servant” of the Lord.
Funeral arrangement for Sister Edward Ann are as follows:  Reception of the body and wake on Tuesday, March 27, 2012, at 4:00 p.m. with the Mass of Resurrection on Wednesday, March 28, 2012, at 10:30 a.m.  All of these ceremonies will take place in the Church of Our Lady of Loretto.  May Sister rest in peace.


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