I entered the world on August 20, 1948 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as part of what is popularly known as the “Baby Boomer Generation”. I am the second child, but first daughter of Isidora Werner Kull and George Ferdinand Kull. My siblings include an older brother, Frederick, a younger brother, Thomas and a younger sister, Ruth. My mother was a homemaker, and my father was a laborer in the steel mills. I always felt very blessed to have been born at a time when mothers stayed at home raising their children. We first lived in a well-known German community of Troy Hill on the north side of Pittsburgh until 1952 when we moved to Perrysville, PA, a suburb north of the city. We lived there until 1959 and then moved to Ambridge to be closer to my father’s mill.
My parents were very devout Catholics. Our family had the practice of reciting the Rosary daily on our knees after our evening meal. As a child I found that very difficult at times. We were not able to go out to play until after the Rosary. My father’s pay from the mill was meager. In spite of that hardship, due to my mother’s unique talent of stretching a dollar, we never went hungry and always had clothing on our backs. My mother’s faith and devotion to Mary really was the glue that kept our family together during many difficult times. My parents passed their faith on to their four children.
I attended St. Teresa’s grade school in Perrysville, PA, for six years. After our family moved to Ambridge, PA. I was enrolled in St. Veronica’s Grade School and High School. It was the labor of the sisters in the parish schools that enabled me to attend twelve years of Catholic school by only paying a minimal book bill of $7 in grade school and $25 in high school. My younger brother and sister were not as fortunate as my older brother and I were. They had to finish their three remaining years of high school in a public school because our parish school closed.
In high school I was a very studious teenager. I liked music so I played the violin in our school orchestra. I also played the guitar and led a folk singing group that played at assemblies. One of my most vivid memories was during my sophomore year while we were having career day, we heard the news about the assassination of President Kennedy. We all dropped to our knees hoping and praying that it wasn’t true. But sadly, it was. We were sent home from school and were off on the day of the funeral, also. It was a very confusing time for everyone. After the shock of that terrible event, the kids of that generation were looking for something to lift their spirits. Along came the Beatles. They were all the rage in popular music so, needless to say, they practically consumed my every waking hour as a teen. My girlfriends in school had jobs during the summer to earn spending money. Because there were more teens around than jobs at that time, I earned my spending money by baby-sitting. That may be the reason that I never had any desire for marriage or having children. I think I had my fill of kids during those years!!!
I was always dreaming of becoming a doctor. After developing some health issues due to an acne medication that I was taking, I realized I did not have the stamina to pursue medical school as well as hold down a full-time job while working my way through college. I decided I could manage nursing school and my parents could help me with the tuition. I was accepted at two nursing schools but at the last minute I decided to pursue a career as a radio announcer. I attended a broadcasting school in Washington D.C. After attending the broadcasting academy, I returned to Pittsburgh. While pursuing a job in radio I worked as a sales clerk in a department store then a file clerk in an insurance company in Pittsburgh. I finally accepted a job at WQED TV as a projectionist. After that I went to another TV station, KDKA and worked there for about seven years as a technician. I never did get my chance in radio as an on the air talent. In hindsight I realize that that would not have been a good career for me.
During my working years my friend and I traveled to different places, New York, England, Ireland, Scotland, Rome, Hawaii, and finally, St. Thomas. I started thinking more and more about religious life. I tried to put it out of my mind but it kept resurfacing. One day out of the blue, Sister Maurice Wayda, a Vincentian Sister of Charity, who was working as a Religious Education Coordinator in my parish, St. Veronica, called me and asked if I would teach a CCD (the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine) class. I wasn’t too thrilled about teaching children but I agreed. From there I became more involved in my parish by singing in a folk ensemble as well as teaching CCD. I told Sister Maurice of my intention to check out the Columban Medical Missionaries because I felt that the Lord was calling me to religious life. She invited me to come to the Vincentians and check out her community. I accepted the invitation.
For the next three years I visited the sisters from time to time and corresponded and met with the Vocation Director, Sister Theresa Podlucky and Junior Director, Sister Charlene Reebel. After three years of prayer and discernment I still could not get the nerve to leave my home, my family, friends and my job to enter religious life. I would make up excuses as to why I needed to do this or that before entering. Finally, I went to stay for a week with the sisters. I told my mother that I was going to tell Sister Teresa that I did not want to have any more contact with them since it seemed like it wasn’t going anywhere. As I experienced the everyday life of a religious sister, I had plenty of time to spend in the chapel. I told the Lord that the ball was now in His court. He either had to give me the grace to enter or quit bothering me about religious life. It seemed that at that very minute I received the grace that I needed to make this decision in my life. I went home after my visit and told my very surprised mother of my decision. I entered the Vincentian Sisters of Charity on March 25, 1977.
Being an older vocation, 28 years old, postulancy and novitiate were difficult. I also was the only one who entered at that time. There were a couple of sisters ahead of me by a year or two but I was basically by myself for the most part. I took classes at the nearby college and had other opportunities for learning. During my postulancy I had the opportunity to help with the flood relief in Johnstown, PA. when a major flood ravaged the town in 1977. I and another sister helped restore damaged records in the Catholic Charities office, mucked out mud from basements, worked along side of the Mennonite volunteers chipping off damaged tile from a school classroom floor and did door to door assessments for the needs of the flood victims. I considered myself fortunate to have been given the opportunity to experience that. It really gave me a great appreciation and empathy for what disaster victims endure.
The community sent me to St. Francis Nursing School after which I received my diploma as a registered nurse. That was by far one of the toughest experiences I’ve had. It was like going through boot camp in the army. After I graduated, I worked for about a year in a hospital. From there the Community sent me to earn my BS degree in nursing at La Roche College. The community has three nursing homes in need of nursing home administrators so after completing my nursing courses, I did an internship at the Regency Nursing Home in administration. I obtained a Nursing Home Administrator’s License following my internship. During my time as Assistant Administrator at Regency Hall Nursing Home, in 1985, I had an opportunity to go to Peru to visit Sister Rachael Sarosi, VSC, with Sister Camille Panich to help her set up her convent in Talara Alta, Peru. We spent five weeks visiting with the people Sister Rachael served helping her get her newly purchased house in order. Several groups of sisters would visit with Sister Racheal with the hope that someone would be interested in joining her in her ministry.
Soon after, I was appointed as Administrator of Vincentian Nursing Home in 1986 where I served until 2013. I also served on the Community’s leadership team from 1995 to 2008 until we merged with the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, KY. Being part of the leadership to explore the possibility of a merger with the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth was very enlightening and enriching. From 2014 until 2020, I was appointed as a coordinator of St. Louise Convent along with Sister Marie Diane Novachek. Then the COVID Pandemic came and we had to close St. Louise Convent. Some sisters moved to the Nazareth Motherhouse, Nazareth, KY, and others to Mt. Assisi Place in Bellevue, PA. Currently, I am on the Caritas Support Services Team taking care of the needs of the sisters who reside at Mt. Assisi Place personal care home. I also serve as Director of Liturgy for all services at Sacred Heart Chapel.
My mentor in my health care internship and in community was Sister Carmelita Alvero. Even though she was 30 years older than I was, she had the mind, attitude and heart of a proverbial twenty-year-old. She initiated me into the Health Care Profession, always stressing the importance of compassionate care for the residents and their families. She loved life, parties, dancing, swimming, walking, her work as a nurse anesthetist, and the people of the South whom she served for most of her community life. She also loved birds and was an avid bird watcher. But most of all she loved the Lord. She was always in search of God which heightened my incentive to pursue God in my life, too. Through her example she showed me the value and importance of faithfulness to daily meditation and the Holy Eucharist. She went to be with her God on June 21, 2007. I have many sisters to thank as well for getting me to this point in my community life. All of them have been gifts from God and have helped me in my daily encounters. I once read that if you become a better person than you were before, then the vocation that you have chosen is the right one for you. I truly feel that I have grown spiritually, emotionally and professionally in my vocation as a sister of Charity. My prayer is that I will continue to grow closer to the Lord and continue to serve Him wholeheartedly as a Sister of Charity wherever that will take me. If asked what religious life means to me, I would say that I am blessed a hundredfold and am truly grateful to our God.
Written by Sister Anne Kull with assistance from Sister Maria Vincent Brocato
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