Sister Stories

Sister Mary Ann Lang, IHM: A Day in the Life

A day in the life of an Administrative Assistant for Publication at St. Joseph’s Center (Scranton, PA)

Sr. Mary Ann Lang, a native of Savannah, Georgia serves as the Secretary, Maternity & Family Services, at Saint Joseph’s Center. This is a multifaceted role which includes answering the phone, taking orders from clients and helping with the activities of the Baby Pantry, preparing all legal documents for infant adoptions, serving as the notary for adoptions and a variety of other duties as well.

5:00 a.m.

I wake up to the alarm and take time for personal prayer as this is the best way to begin each day. This time quiets me and opens me to God’s Spirit alive within me. It is the peace and awareness of God’s love for me which carries me through the day. Intercessory prayer is important to me as there are so many families that I speak with each day that are going through difficult times in their lives.

7:20 a.m.

I gather with the sisters of St. Joseph’s Center Convent to participate in liturgy, led by our Chaplain, Rev. William Pickard. He is an inspiration to me as his life is founded on principles of justice and peace. Father Pickard asks us to take the narrow road and speak up for those who are needy and are on the fringes of society. This is also part of my call as an IHM sister.

8:00 a.m.

My ministry begins. I check to see that everything is ready for the pantry clients coming that day. I answer the phone and also take pantry orders. No matter how large or small the need of the client, the important thing is to listen, emphasize, show respect, and help the family with their particular needs. Sometimes families are in a crisis, and the individual needs someone to listen and be a caring presence.

Saint Joseph's Center Baby Pantry Staff
Pictured L – R: Sister Mary Ann, volunteers and Sister Maryalice Jacquinot at the St. Joseph’s Baby Pantry

9:00 a.m.

Today represents one of the most meaningful days in my ministry. I am responsible for doing the legal paperwork and being the notary for the adoptions. This ministry is truly a privilege as birth parents struggle to make the right decisions and pre- adoptive couples wait to be matched with an infant placed in the care of St. Joseph’s Center. When the child becomes free for adoption, the placement is held in the chapel at St. Joseph’s. The adoptive parents arrive with great anticipation. The couple sees the child for the first time, and there is no way to describe the excitement and joy. A brief prayer service reminds the couple of God’s gift of life. Knowing that I have played a small part in enabling the placement to happen, brings me deep fulfillment and gratitude. And when the adoption becomes final it is a time of rejoicing for all.

12:30 p.m.

We gather in the lunch room as a department and share about what is happening with our friends and families. Sometimes there are illnesses or operations, and we support each other through care, concern and many prayers. Other days we are laughing with joy as we see photos of our co-workers’ children busy with various activities and birthday celebrations.

1:00 p.m.

I help to facilitate the smooth running of the pantry and when the coordinator is out of the building with other responsibilities, I make myself available to guide the volunteers. A very important part of my ministry is direct service with the clients. Whether I am speaking to a client on the phone or personally waiting on them at the pantry, it is important to be a good listener and to provide the specific needs for their families. I always try to end the encounter by telling the client that I will be praying for them. This promise of prayers seems to be very meaningful to our clients.

3:00 p.m.

photo taken at the St. Joseph's Center Baby Pantry
Pictured L-R: Sister Mary Ann Lang and a client of the Baby Pantry

At any point during the day, donors bring items that will be helpful to families. I work on the thank you letters that go out to our donors. Without these donations and the dedicated volunteers, we could not serve the large number of families who come to us for assistance.

4:30 p.m.

I return home and gather with the other sisters who live at the IHM Center for dinner. There are 70 sisters who live at the Center, including an African Sister who is studying at Marywood University. Each night we can sit with a different group of sisters and catch up on what is happening in their lives and ministry. If you walk into the dining room it may seem quite loud as the conversations can be very lively.

6:00 p.m.

Holy Trinity Community, of which I am a member, gathers in the community room for evening prayer. The style of prayer is the choice of the prayer leader. This common prayer draws us together as a community.

7:30 p.m.

We gather in the community room to talk with each other about our families, ministries, congregational issues, etc. We also relax by watching some television.

9:30 p.m.

I visit the chapel to reflect upon the day with God. Key to this prayer is thanking God for all the blessings of the day and the many graces that have been given to me throughout my life. I pray for my family, friends, co-workers, clients and our own IHM sisters. Renewal of vows is part of this prayer time as a reminder that God has called me to be an IHM Sister and bring God’s love to each person. I read reflections on the scriptures before going to sleep around 10 p.m.

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