“If you ask me: Give me an example of beauty, simple everyday beauty, with which we can help others feel better and be happier. Two things come to my mind, a smile, and a sense of humor.”

~ Pope Francis

The embodiment of Pope Francis’ advice was lived in Sr. Mary Ann Ferguson. The second of five children, Mary Ann was the only girl of Francis and Evangeline (Marceau) Ferguson. She was born June 29, 1936, in Alpena, Michigan. Diminutive in size, she was tall in talent, humor, good nature, and a generous spirit.

Mary Ann attended St. Anne elementary school and Alpena Catholic Central, where her teachers were Grand Rapids Dominicans. Without waiting to graduate at home she transferred to Marywood for her senior year as an aspirant. She entered the postulancy in June 1953. At her reception she took the name Sister Mary Annunciata. Her class was the first to move into the newly constructed East Wing of the Marywood Motherhouse.

In 1958, Sister Annunciata received her Bachelor of Music Education degree from Aquinas College. She spent summers in study and received a Master’s in Religious Education from Aquinas College in 1966 and a Master’s Degree in School Music Education from the University of Illinois in 1970.

With changes brought about with Vatican Council II, she returned to her baptismal name and was known as Sister Mary Ann from then on. In 1970, along with several other Sisters she moved into the Alexander House, the first non-convent house in the community. The presence of Sisters on Alexander Street helped to stabilize the neighborhood. She lived there until the house closed in 1993.

Sister Mary Ann was a founding member of the Mellow D’s, a musical group that played and sang for many churches and schools both locally and as far afield as San Diego, California. She was an accomplished pianist, an excellent accompanist and skilled in playing the guitar, bass, and other instruments. She could play many melodies by ear and composed innumerable hymns and songs for liturgies and other events. You are Special and Song of Commitment are just two of the compositions that are still sung.

In her career as a teacher in music education she taught at Holy Family, Saginaw; St. Francis, Traverse City; St. Boniface, Bay City; St. Joseph, Muskegon; and several schools in Grand Rapids including St. Stephen, Marywood Academy, Immaculate Heart of Mary, St. Alphonsus and Stepping Stones Montessori School. In her later years of teaching music, she also served as school secretary at Immaculate Heart of Mary and Stepping Stones Montessori in Grand Rapids and St. Charles School in Greenville, Michigan.

After retiring from teaching in 1997 she contributed her administrative skills to the Word Project for seven years. Then she worked in the bookstore at Dominican Center Marywood and as a musician for liturgies and social occasions requiring a talented accompanist who knew by heart much music in both the sacred and secular areas.

In 1998, Sister Mary Ann enjoyed a sabbatical period of six months at Springbank Retreat Center in South Carolina. Here she reveled in expressing her creativity through sculpting, painting with watercolor, basket weaving, pottery, and song/skit writing. In addition to her gifted talent in music and teaching, Sr. Mary Ann was an athletic person who excelled in bowling, golf, cross-country skiing, tennis, and table tennis.

Not one to veer away from hard and messy work, Sister Mary Ann joined eight other Sisters, Associates, and friends to travel to New Orleans, Louisiana to assist in cleaning up after Hurricane Katrina in 2006.

Sister Mary Ann loved to travel and over the years she visited many national parks, often tent camping along the way. Overseas travel included the Lands of Dominic Tour as well as trips to Ireland, Paris, and Hawaii.

In 2004, at the time of her Golden Jubilee she wrote: “Time flies when you are having fun. Even though these past years have had their share of fun, more importantly, they have been filled with wonder, prayer, family, friends, ministry, and the opportunity to be associated with so many remarkable women. I am grateful for all that has been and for all that is yet to be. God truly has done marvelous deeds. ‘Break into song, sing praise.’”

Choirs of angels have welcomed their newest member with joy. We who knew and loved her are grateful for all the years of good music, laughter and the presence of a warm and friendly Sister, teacher, and friend.

Sister Mary Ann is survived by her brothers Thomas Ferguson; Michael (Sue) Ferguson and Patrick (Francie) Ferguson; nieces, nephews, many friends and members of her Dominican Community.