“I didn’t ask them, I told them.” Sister Anne Arthur Klinker said firmly.Even her parents could not shake her steadfast resolve to join a convent during her junior year of high school. As a school sister of Notre Dame, Sister Anne Arthur’s religious calling would take her across the United States and Nigeria.
When my English teacher assigned us to interview someone who we wanted to know more about for our final project, I immediately thought of Sister Anne Arthur. She had already given a wonderful speech about gender equality in religion for my gender equality club earlier in the year and I saw her most weekends at church, but I knew I had so much more to learn about her.
She invited me up to her apartment in Richmond Terrace, where she’s a cherished resident. One Thanksgiving a service group was supposed to provide a turkey dinner for some of the residents, but never showed up, so sister invited everyone up to her kitchen and cooked up frozen pizzas and anything else she pulled out of her refrigerator. She told me she often has fifteen other sisters over for dinner. Given the size of her apartment, I assumed those were pretty cozy gatherings.
We began by discussing her calling into religious life and her time in Nigeria. She started off working at a few different schools in the north of the country, but was transferred south to be the administrator of a brand new school. Over the three years she worked at the school, the student body grew exponentially, and she plans on returning sometime soon to see how it is running at full capacity.
Given her many achievements throughout her career, when I asked her what her proudest moment of being a sister was, I assumed I get some story from a classroom, a church, or a mission. Instead, I got a story from an air port terminal. While stranded in O’Hare overnight, Sister Anne Arthur met a woman with two babies. The poor mother’s flight to California had been cancelled and she did not have enough formula or diapers to last through the night. Sensing the woman’s distress, Sister called up a former student of hers from the Chicago area to pick up the woman and drive her to a store where she could replenish her supplies. Without the veil and traditional garb, Sister looked like anyone else. However, when explained her plan to the young woman, the woman had only one question: “Are you a nun?”
Even though she’s retired, Sister still lives each day for other people. You can sense her kindness and holiness just being around her. She lets her actions, rather than her clothing, speak for her.