Sister Ann Katherine Klaus, M.M. celebrated her 70th Jubilee as a Maryknoll Sister on February 12th, 2017. She was born in Marion, Ohio. and entered Maryknoll in 1947. She was assigned to Tanzania, East Africa, in 1951. In 2012, Sister Anne was assigned to the Rogers Community at Maryknoll, NY, where she is an active member.
Returning to Tanzania, Sister Ann continued her ministry with the development of women. In 1994, Sister Ann joined the Maryknoll Sisters working in Kalebejo in the program VEMA, a Kiswahili word meaning complete well-being. The program includes education, development and health, integrated to bringing about the well-being of people living and working in the villages. Sister Ann joined in the pastoral ministry to the forty-seven outstations. She also helped the women to earn money by selling articles they sewed, and giving seminars on handicrafts in other locations.
Presently Sister Ann works with the urban poor, living on the rocky hills of Mwanza. With past relationships with so many people, Sister Ann channels help to people living with HIV/AIDS, students who are orphans, their caregivers; some widows and others in need. Sister Ann’s goal is to help students finish school, learn a trade and find work. She visits the homes of people she helps, visits the hospital patients and continues teaching baking and solar cooking, and crafts to a group of women. The talents and zeal of this pioneer are still at the service of mission.
From 1987 to 1989 Sister Ann was in Somalia, where she worked with other Maryknoll Sisters in a refugee camp for Ethiopians under the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees and the Somali health department. At Christmas, Sister Ann wrote home,“In a country where most people are Muslim, celebrating the birth of Jesus takes the form of deepening awareness of the great gift we have been given, and of God’s mysterious ways with people and with nations. Jesus chose a moment of entering our history is somewhat like our present moment in Somalia. The simple life style of the people – taking sheep to pasture, carrying water, cooking over wood fires – is reminiscent of Bethlehem. Each day we witness the fidelity of a whole nation to the call to worship Allah at set times.”
In the ‘70s and ‘80s Sister Ann put her energies into pastoral group work, especially women’s development in rural areas. In the open air, Sister Ann and African co-workers had very practical classes. “We really cook beans, sew a dress, wash a baby.”
Sister Ann witnessed Tanganyika becoming a republic in 1962 and Maryknoll’s friend, Julius Nyerere, being elected President of the United Republic of Tanzania (Tanganyika and Zanzibar) in 1964. When the Tanzania government asked the Sisters to teach secondary school rather than primary, Sister Ann chose to teach adult women basic skills to improve their daily lives. Sister Ann wrote a cookbook in Swahili and later adapted it in her campaign for making solar stoves to save the trees.
During the ‘50s and ‘60s Sister Ann taught in girls schools in various towns in the bush; was in charge of a primary school; and gave domestic science courses to girls who could not go to middle school. Sister Ann taught aspirants to religious life as initial preparation for the African community begun by Maryknoll Sisters, now the Immaculate Heart Sisters of Africa.
After ten years of mission in Africa, Sister Ann visited her hometown, Marion, Ohio, and the family she left in 1947.