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The life of Sr. Ann Regina brings to mind the woman in the Scripture who struggled for many years with an illness that could not be cured by earthly physicians. As Sister’s body weakened, many people held her in loving prayer. Sisters kept vigil, her family visited, and the staff of the Magnificat Unit lovingly provided care. With the Divine Physician by her side, Sr. Ann Regina gave her life over completely to Jesus who grasped her soul in love on the evening of Friday, December 11, 2015. She had served God as a Franciscan Sister of the Poor for 58 years.

Theodore and Margaret (Aull) Raterman lived in the Price Hill area of Cincinnati near St. Teresa of Avila Parish and raised three children: Ruth, Gerard, and Margaret Mary. Born on February 16, 1938, Margaret Mary attended the parish school followed by graduation from Seton High School.
 
Margaret Mary responded generously to her call to religious life and entered the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor at St. Clare Convent on August 15, 1957. When she was invested with the habit the following year, she was given the name Sister Ann Regina. She professed her first vows on August 25, 1960.

As a temporary professed, Sr. Ann Regina attended and eventually graduated from St. Elizabeth Hospital School of Nursing in Dayton, Ohio. Sr. Ann Regina was a member of the last large group of Sisters to pronounce their Perpetual Profession of Vows on August 25, 1965.

During her early years as a religious, Sr. Ann Regina experienced mental health challenges that spanned her entire life. All the same, she managed to undertake significant ministries for the Congregation with an incredible sensitivity to the most abandoned of society. It was as though she had a special God-given grace to be strength for those who felt weak or vulnerable.

After some time working in hospitals sponsored by the Congregation, Sr. Ann Regina was asked to relocate to New York to attend to a communal need. While there, always having a burning desire to serve the poorest of the poor, she sought out Dorothy Day who was ministering to homeless men in the Catholic Worker House. Dorothy had been praying to have a nurse on her staff and welcomed Sr. Ann Regina’s offer to volunteer. After spending time with Dorothy, absorbing the philosophy of service of the Catholic Worker Movement, the two women began to notice more women were struggling to survive on the streets. This awareness eventually gave birth to Maryhouse for homeless women. Sr. Ann Regina’s experience led her to propose that a similar ministry be established by the Congregation.

In 1977 the Congregation initiated a ministry for women in St. Pius V Parish in New York. A group of Sisters that was led by Sr. Ann Regina formed a small intentional community and lived with the women in the same setting. Sr. Ann Regina had an ardent desire to live the poverty of St. Francis and so this setting relied heavily upon donations and bore witness to utter simplicity. This was the first Congregational effort to address homelessness among women.

In the early 1980s, the Franciscan Friars of Holy Name Province approached the Congregation to consider the possibility of staffing a new ministry for homeless women in New Jersey, called Anthony House. Driven by her desire, experience, and love of the ministry, Sr. Ann Regina eventually joined the Sisters. These two outreach ministries to the homeless were dreams come true for Sr. Ann Regina in being sister to those in greatest need.

In 1989 she began to experience her own mental health vulnerability and returned to Ohio. For an interval of time she assisted as needed at St. Raphael Social Service Center and then took up residence with Franciscan Apostles Community in Hamilton. As her health declined, Sr. Ann Regina needed more personal care. Every effort was made by the Congregation to meet her changing needs over the years.

With the opening of the Magnificat Unit at St. Clare in 2013, Sr. Ann Regina thrived on the loving care of those who surrounded her life. It was obvious from those who attended to her needs that Sr. Ann Regina was truly a woman who bore Jesus in her heart, longing to touch the tassel of his robe.

Sr. Ann Regina, we thank you for the Gospel witness of your life to the most vulnerable of our society. We know that you welcomed the reward promised you at the time of your profession: fullness with God forever.

Sr. Arleen Bourquin, SFP
December 14, 2015

 

The following are some testimonials from our Sisters who remember Sister Ann Regina with great affection:

Sr. Ann Regina Raterman (Annie) was/is my very dear friend. I lived with her at our shelter for homeless women and children in Jamaica, NY. Annie had a very deep relationship with God. One day we were together in Manhattan, NY, returning to the shelter via subway. Suddenly Annie stopped. She said to me, "Jacinta, I have to sit down." She was ashen. I asked her, "Annie what happened?" She said "I just saw Jesus in that poor man we just passed." Her experienced was so profound, I also shared in it vicariously. We both sat down until we could proceed to the subway. – Sr. Mary Jacinta Doyle

"I thank God for the life of Sr. Ann Regina, for her affection and dedication to our Congregation throughout her life, particularly toward our Sisters. I remember one time I went to Italy, when she welcomed us all with great care and tenderness." –  Sr. Maria Bernadete Batista




"I thank God for the gift of life Sr. Ann Regina. I had the grace to meet her in person. She was a very cheerful and friendly person. She had a special ability to communicate with people. When we met in Italy, for Mother Frances’ Beatification, we have communicated with each other with great ease, despite the language barrier. Her joy marked me deeply. May God welcome her into his heavenly kingdom." – Sr. Maria Teresinha de Jesus

"Gratitude is the word I have to say about Sr. Ann Regina, who donated her life entirely to the poor and to our Congregation. Certainly, wherever she went she left for others a beneficial fragrance that will last for all eternity." –  Sr. Lécia José da Silva

In the summer of 2011 in Cincinnati Sr. Ann Regina welcomed me with joy and with a song: “O sole mio” (My sun) to remember the time that she had spent in Italy and to welcome me. I thank the Lord for the gift of Sr. Ann Regina’s smile and for her kindness. – Sr. Marina Triglia

 

Published: March 1, 2016