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Sister Ann Roddy

 (20/21st century)
Sister Ann Roddy is active/lives in Louisiana.  Sister Ann Roddy is known for abstract architecture painting, teaching.

Sister Ann Roddy

Biography from the Archives of askART

Affiliated with the Tau House New Orleans, a small Catholic faith community based on the teachings of St. Francis, she was there for over 25 years according to an internet posting of February 2009.  She is mentioned as one of the artists painting on Jackson Square.

Following is text from a 2011 Tau House newsletter with the article, "Ministering to Meet Unmet Needs Sister Ann Embraces Marginalized Art in New Orleans."

While her official ministry titles include Artist Minister, Director of Tau House and Pastoral Minister for Porject Lazarus, Sister Ann Roddy's title might well be Minister Who Meets Unmen Needs.

Quiet and unassuming, though always with flair and a hint of the dramatic in all she does, Sister Ann lives the School Sisters of Notre Dame's call to serve those who are poor, eliminate the root causes of injustice, live simply and to respect the dignity of every person.

A native of St. Louis, Mo., Sister Ann professed her final vows in 1956. Her first assignment was as an elementary school art teacher in East St. Louis, Ill. She went on to teach or serve as a dorm moderator at high schools in Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana.

At every school she was assigned, Sister Ann encouraged individuality and self expression, while at the same time calling each of her students to work toward justice and to respect one another's gifts and challenges.

"I love art, and I really enjoyed teaching it at any level," Sister Ann said. "Each place was so different from the others. I was enlivened by all my students and was proud of their accomplishments."

After 20 years in the classroom, Sister Ann took a sabbatical. She chose to spend the next year in silence, meditation and prayer at Lebh Shomea House of Prayer in Sarita, Texas.

"Lebh Shomea means listening heart in Hebrew," Sister Ann said. "I listened and prayed."
After leaving Lebh Shomea in 1977, Sister Ann's listening heart led her to New Orleans, LA, where she formed community with SSNDs and taught art to secondary school students at Immaculate Conception in Marrero, LA.

After two years at Immaculate Conception the economy started to have trouble," Sister Ann said. "Schools everywhere were cutting 'unnecessary' classes like art and music. It became more difficult for me to find another teaching position with the environment that had been created."

One day, Sister Ann decided to do what so many artists in New Orleans do. She loaded up her car with an easel, canvases, paint and brushes and headed to the heart of New Orleans - Jackson Square. The square was filled with vendors, street people, street performers and artists of all types. She started to paint the scenery around her, talking to people and making new friends.

In 1978, one of Sister Ann's watercolor pieces brought about a meeting with a Franciscan priest walking through Jackson Square with a friend. The Rev. Bob Powell, OFM, and Art Salway were cutting through Jackson Square one Saturday morning when they stopped to look at one of Sister Ann's abstracts bearing a text from the "Acts of the Apostles" 22:11. The two men introduced themselves and invited Sister Ann to a Vespers service at their place in the French Quarter called TAU House.

"TAU House was an emerging community whose mission broadened my vision of the world," Sister Ann said. "Its initial goal was to reach out and be present to those who didn't feel included in the ordinary ministry of the Church. In time, it became a presence to people whose life and professional experiences found them in conflict with what the official Church taught, as well as to sexual minorities, the divorced, separated and people who wanted to be a part of a gospel-centered community."

"I did attend Vespers one night," said Sister Ann. "I found it prayerful and meaningful, and I found myself coming back."

She also found a community whose needs were not being met by society or the church, people who experienced discrimination, marginalization and disrespect. She added the feminine, Notre Dame touch to a community she came to care for and people she came to love.

In the mid 1980s, TAU House began being associated with AIDS when Father Bob was asked by a doctor at a local hospital to talk about the ethical, spiritual and religious aspects of the disease. The public and many pastoral and medical professionals were uninformed about the disease and misinformation was causing fear and panic.

"There was TAU House before there was the NO/AIDS Task Force and before Project Lazarus was even a thought," Sister Ann said, "but its location was never advertised for fear of vandalism and violence. Then, the marginalized were those suffering from AIDS. There was no cure and little hope. People were dying alone and uncared for by society."

Amidst all the struggles, the TAU House community of Franciscan Friars and its supporters continued to minister by offering retreats for caregivers, performing hospital visits and, when needed, memorial services. To this day, the hospitality of the TAU House community lives on in the beautiful backyard gardens that hold bricks on which the names of the many who died of HIV/AIDS are remembered.

Project Lazarus came into being in 1985 when the TAU House community was approached to help a person with AIDS who was leaving the hospital but had nowhere to live. The church, in the name of the Archdiocese of New Orleans and its local bishop at the time, took a great risk. With support from Catholic Charities, as well as dedicated TAU House volunteers and the newly formed NO/AIDS Task Force, the place now called Project Lazarus was created. In 25 years, it has moved from a single French Quarter basement apartment to a former convent and rectory, which has been divided into four "houses" that accommodate 24 people and provide both permanent and transitional housing.

Who is left on the margins has changed," Sister Ann said. "Before, all we knew was death, and we cared for people in the dying process. Now, HIV/AIDS is a chronic living condition, and its population is moving from primarily men to both men and women and, in particular, people of color. There are new needs every day, and we must find ways to be brothers and sisters together, accepting one another and respecting one another. We need to move to action."

Sister Ann is full of action, ministering to the needs of the TAU House and Project Lazarus communities, participating in her neighborhood and her SSND community and making time to travel and to paint.

"This ministry within TAU House and Project Lazarus was passed on to me, and my greatest hope is that there will be someone to pass it on to," she said. "I hope the great experiences I have had and have shared about will lead others to say 'yes' to something unexpected that comes across their path."

"Sister Ann Roddy's Ministry in New Orleans", Trust and Dare, 2011 Publication of Nativity Miguel Model Schools featuring Sister Ann Roddy.

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