A Day in the Life – S. Annie Klapheke
By Megan Simmermeyer, Communications co-op
S. Annie Klapheke (front row, fourth from right) professed First Vows in December 2016.
National Vocation Awareness Week (Nov. 5-11, 2017) celebrates religious vocations across the country, and encourages everyone to reflect on the vocation they are called to pursue. The “Day in the Life” series explores the varied ministries of five Sisters in Formation and offers detailed accounts of what these Sisters do on a daily basis. Each woman featured in the series has answered the call to be a Sister of Charity, and each has a story to share.
S. Annie Klapheke heard the call to her vocation as a Sister of Charity when she was 26 years old. Her friend, Tracy Kemme, who is also a fellow Sister, asked if S. Annie had ever thought about becoming a woman religious. “Looking back at my life, I now see how I was being formed for religious life, although I was not aware of it at the time,” S. Annie says. “My faith has always been a central part of my life, even from a young age.” She is currently in First Profession, having made her First Vows in December 2016, but not yet having made her Final Vows.
On a typical day, S. Annie dedicates herself to prayer and serving others. She wakes around 5:30 a.m., prepares for the day, and joins her three Sister housemates for 20-30 minutes of prayer. Most weekdays, she attends 7:30 a.m. Mass at St. Dominic before beginning her ministry with the Good Samaritan Free Health Center in East Price Hill (Cincinnati).
The Free Health Center offers primary care doctor services to adults in Hamilton County who do not have health insurance, and all the provided services are free. “Many of our patients are the working poor,” S. Annie says. “They have jobs but they do not receive benefits and their wages are low. We also see many immigrants and refugees, and some of the homeless population.” For the first hour of the day, S. Annie reviews the charts, but the majority of her time is spent seeing patients.
Her role at the Free Health Center is as a dietitian, meaning that she teaches patients which foods are best to eat and which should be avoided based on their condition. “I meet folks who have diet-related diseases, such as diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity, and high blood pressure. Appointments last about 30 minutes, and on average, I see seven patients per day,” S. Annie says.
For the last hour or so, S. Annie charts all the patients she met that day, and she leaves the clinic around 4:30 p.m. After work, she notes that “there really is no ‘typical’ evening” for her. Most evenings, she takes conference calls or attends congregation meetings, events/speakers related to social justice issues, parish council meetings, or prayer groups. If she has no evening commitments, which she admits is quite rare, she enjoys going for a walk or jog right after work. Then, she has dinner with her house community, each Sister taking turns cooking throughout the week, before she takes the rest of the evening to answer emails or relax. She finishes her busy day with 15-20 minutes of prayer and aims to go to bed around 9:30 p.m.
Despite her busy day, S. Annie finds joy in the many facets of her daily life. For instance, she says, “My most enjoyable part of my ministry is interacting with patients. … The absolute most rewarding part is when I see folks for follow-up visits and they are healthier and feeling better because of changes they have made in their eating habits.”
And each morning, when she attends Mass, S. Annie feels spiritually nourished. “[Mass is] a chance to encounter God’s presence in the people gathered, [the] Scripture, and the Eucharist,” she says. For S. Annie, the Eucharist is particularly special, as it is the moment when she feels the most clarity in regard to her life’s purpose, and she “[becomes] God’s love incarnate in the world, [is] Jesus’ hands and feet now on Earth.”
As she has found peace in her current ministry, S. Annie also finds peace in looking forward to the future. “In a decade or two, [the Sisters] will be much fewer in number,” she says. “However, this does not cause me distress. I think religious life will look, again, like it did at its origins—small groups of like-minded individuals committed to the Gospel mission, who are freely available to respond to the greatest needs of the time.” In her own life, S. Annie dreams of expanding her ministry as a dietitian and working with local, sustainable agriculture, as well as “connecting people, particularly those most in need, with nourishing food and with the Earth.”For S. Annie, she has heard the call from God and found her vocation in service to others as a dietitian and Sister of Charity. “It was not until Tracy popped the question that I realized that [my] desires could be realized in religious life,” she says.