“I have been blessed in my mission life and been enriched by the many people I have come to know in Latin America, Nepal, and the United States. I have always been rewarded abundantly in accepting new challenges.”
When Nancy Judith Hartman, from Juneau, WI, entered the Maryknoll Sisters in 1946, she was given the name Sister Anna Maria. She earned a degree in education at Maryknoll Teachers College, NY, and was one of four Sisters to open a girls’ school in Guatemala, Colegio Monte Maria, the first mission of Maryknoll Sisters in Guatemala. She served in the country from 1953-1974, teaching primary grades at Monte Maria until 1964, then was principal of Our Lady of Guadelupe School, Guatemala City, until 1974.
Sister Anna Maria was then sent to El Salvador, where she worked in a Maryknoll Fathers parish, supervising the religious education program and collaborating with the pastor in the religious formation of adults until 1977. While there, she took courses toward a masters degree in the Art of Teaching through long-distance study with Montclair State College, NJ, from 1974-1977. While a student, she collaborated with a professor of the college in an experiment which applied the techniques being taught in her area of specialization, Philosophy for Children, which stimulated the formation of values and critical thinking in the parish school in El Salvador. Sister Anna Maria also used the innovative approach in Chile, where she directed workshops in Philosophy for Children for teachers in both rural and urban areas, from 1981-1987.
Another pioneering moment came in 1988 when Sister Anna Maria helped open a new mission in Nepal. She worked in a Jesuit seminary training future teachers and teaching English as a second language. In refugee camps in Damak, she trained Bhutanese secondary teachers.
Sister Anna Maria then worked among Hispanic residents of West Haven, CT, with other semi-retired Maryknoll Sisters. Her energy, humor and compassion endeared her to many. While volunteering in a food bank, she commented, “When I returned to this wonderful country of abundance, I was surprised that some people do not have enough to eat and I wanted to help alleviate their suffering.”
Since 2003 Sister Anna Maria has resided at the Maryknoll Sisters Center, Ossining, NY, where she works in the congregation’s Treasury Department.