Sister Mary Anita was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and moved to San Diego, California, as a child. After high school, she began studies at Mercy Hospital School of Nursing in San Diego, where she met the sisters and entered the community in 1944, professing her vows in 1946. She continued her studies at St. Mary’s Hospital in San Francisco, California, becoming an RN in 1948 and earning her bachelor’s degree in 1954 from the University of San Francisco.
Sister Mary Anita then served as director of the nursing department and of the vocational nursing Program at St. Mary’s. During this time, she also worked to acquire accreditation for the LVN (licensed vocational nurse) program at San Quentin State Prison, where students met most of the requirements for licensure at the prison hospital and then completed clinical requirements while on probation. Over the years, she stayed in touch with some of the men she taught during this time.
Sister Mary Anita continued her healthcare ministry in Bakersfield and at Mercy Retirement Center in Oakland, and then served the community as health coordinator. She earned a degree in counseling at the University of California Santa Cruz in 1983 and became certified as an alcohol and drug counselor working with the Women’s Recovery Association and in private practice. During this period, she also served as a liaison to sisters, especially in their life transitions.
As she aged, Sister Mary Anita became increasingly aware of the gift of contemplation in her life and embraced the gift of old age as a special calling to a deeper spirituality and to being a supportive presence to others. Her gentle, common-sense demeanor and wisdom were always a welcome gift to those who came to her door.