Scharper, Sr. Annina, D.C. Oral History


Scharper, Sr. Annina.jpg


APRIL 21, 2017
Sister Annina, welcome!
Thank you
Tell us about your life.
“My soul magnifies the Lord.” When God breathed the breath of life in my soul in my
mother’s womb, she did not know that I was there. I tried to tell her, but she was busy
baking bread and washing clothes for my dad and the other eight children in my family.
Soon she felt me growing. Then she said, “This child will be special.” I have always felt
this as a blessing. “Holy is his name.” I was born on Friday, March 7, 1924 at 6 am, the
ninth and last child of my parents, Marie Louise and William Albert Scharper. I had six
brothers and two sisters. Louise – that was Sister Dolores [Scharper], our oldest sister
– shared with me the story of the morning of my birth. My father told the children that
they had a baby sister which did not make them very happy. Then my father, who was
not a Catholic, suggested that they get ready to go to Mass because it was the First
Friday. They announced to him that they were not going to Mass. Whereupon he
consulted my mother. Returning with the message, your mother said, “You are to go to
Mass.” They complied although reluctantly.
My Baptism took place on March 16, 1924 at St. Dominic Church in Baltimore. I was
given the name Mary Nina. Nina, not because I was the ninth child, but after my
godmother who lived with us, my Aunt Nina. When I was three years old, all the other
children were in school, so my mother had to take me wherever she needed to go. I
was probably the youngest person who ever made Our Lady of Grace Novena at St.
Ignatius Church.
My mother and father loved each other very deeply and if they ever argued, it was never
in front of the children.
I went to Corpus Christi School and was taught by the School Sisters of Notre Dame,
excellent teachers. My sister Ann was only two years older than I and she was my role
model. I thought that everything she did was the right way to do it. When Ann
graduated from grade school, she won a scholarship to Notre Dame of Maryland. I
thought I would do the same. However, although I took the examination, I didn’t win a
scholarship. So, I went to Seton High School. I did not like my first year at Seton
because I was disappointed about being there. After I recovered from that, I loved
Seton. I loved the Daughters of Charity and the care they had for each other, the
attention they gave to each student and the good curriculum. It was during my
sophomore year that my father died. He was laid out at home. Some of my teachers
came to the wake and funeral. I was very touched by this. This is what he told my

mother, that he wished to become a Catholic. This was a great blessing for our family.
In my senior year, Sr. Mary Agnes Barry, my homeroom teacher, talked to me about
vocation. I knew that God was calling me to be a Daughter of Charity and I was
convinced that I would not be happy unless I answered that call. I graduated from
Seton in May 1942. I worked at Glen Allen Martin airplane factory and the blueprint
department for three months. I made a lot of money! But I knew that I had to follow my
call, so my mother was very happy to have the money.
I applied to the community through Sister Mary Louise Doyle, Sister Servant at Seton.
After acceptance, on September 8, 1942 I was sent to St. Joseph School in
Martinsburg, West Virginia for Postulatum. Here I taught English to the high school
seniors until I left for the Seminary. I spent a year in the Seminary learning about the
community and learning about myself. My first mission in February 1944 was St.
Ambrose School in Endicott, New York where I taught the third grade for two years and
then was asked if I had any aversion to nursing, to which I responded negatively. I
spent four years studying nursing, graduating from the Catholic University in 1950 with a
Bachelor of Science degree in nursing. St. Mary’s Hospital in Troy, New York
welcomed me as supervisor of obstetrics and a teacher of the students at the college of
St. Rose in Albany. From 1955 to 1959 I was on the school of nursing faculty at St.
Mary’s Hospital, Saginaw, Michigan where I taught medical surgical nursing. Here I
gained new insights into curriculum, faculty requirements, and clinical supervision of
With this helpful background, I was asked to go to DePaul House of Studies in Jamaica
[Queens, New York City] to study for a master’s degree in nursing administration. An
internship at St. Vincent Hospital in Greenwich Village, operated by the New York
Sisters of Charity, proved to be an excellent experience for me. In January 1960 I was
missioned to DePaul Hospital in Norfolk, Virginia to be the Director of the School of
Nursing. This was the first in a series of four Directorships: Sacred Heart School of
Nursing in Pensacola, Florida; St. Vincent School of Nursing in Jacksonville, Florida;
and Director of the Psychiatric Affiliation Program at Seton Institute in Baltimore. I felt it
was a special privilege to encourage these young women to reach their potential and to
become excellent nurses. While there I was Sister Servant with a wonderful group of
Sisters, very dedicated to the patients, full of community spirit, and we all worked very
well together. I will always be grateful that during my years at Seton Institute, I had the
opportunity to visit my dear mother. She was at Jenkins Memorial Hospital. I loved her
very much and I thank God for the positive, grace-filled influence that she had on me. A
gentle woman, she guided all of us by her example and her words of wisdom. She died
at the age of 93, gently slipping away to heaven.
When the decision was made to close Seton Institute, I was missioned to minister to
single moms at Catholic Charities in Raleigh, North Carolina. This was followed by a
return to Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola as Director of Nursing Services. Then at
St. Agnes Hospital in Baltimore, I was Hospital Education Director. Then I fulfilled a
desire I had for several years: I volunteered for the missions. I volunteered in April of
1982 and was not accepted until November of 1983. I was accepted with an assignment

to Taiwan. Sister Dorothy Folmer and I left for Paris on March 10, 1984 to spend two
months at the Mission Center where we were assigned to take care of two sisters in the
infirmary. I was the nurse and Sr. Dorothy gave all the directions in French. So we were
a very good couple. We were able to start our Chinese classes while still in Paris. With
joyful anticipation, we left for Taiwan in April with our first assignment to attend
language school – quite a challenge! After a year and a half of study, I was assigned to
St. Mary Hospital in Taitung where I was Sister Servant and I was Nursing Educator. I
loved St. Mary Hospital and I loved the staff. It was an unforgettable experience to work
with an entirely different culture and to learn to appreciate and participate in their life
and culture. It was also a beautiful experience to live and work with Sisters of different
When I returned home, I had several short stay missions: Martinsburg, West Virginia as
Parish Nurse, DePaul Medical Center in Norfolk as Pastoral Care and also as Sister
Servant, a docent at the Shrine of Elizabeth Ann Seton, Coordinator of Support
Services and Sister Servant at St. Ann’s Infant Home, Executive Director of Mother and
Child Ministries and Sister Servant at St. Louise House in Macon, Georgia. St. Vincent
Medical Center in Jacksonville, Florida gave me the opportunity to serve as a Pastoral
Care Chaplain.
I came to Villa St. Michael on April 15, 2004 having made the decision to retire while I
was still active, 80 years old, and could be of service to the Sisters. Some of my
services were: to accompany the Sisters to the doctors’ appointments, massage
ministry, relieving in the Villa Gift Shop, delivering laundry and household supplies. I
thank God that I can do these services and I did these services, and I thank God that
the Sisters have been an inspiration to me.
Sister Annina, one thing I was wondering about. In the beginning of your life, were you
born in the hospital or at home?
None of us were born in the hospital. My mother wouldn’t even think about that! I was
born in my mother’s bed with her. And at the foot of the bed this cat was sleeping. He
didn’t bother either one of us during this process of being born. But it’s always caught in
my mind because I guess, this is when I first started to like cats.
And you have liked cats ever since!
I have.
And I think they like you, too [laughter]. And maybe that’s why – you’ve been bonded
since the beginning!
That could be. We always had cats in our family at home. Never had a dog – always
cats. Never more than two.


Your mother had so many kids, she could only handle two cats. Good, you had a
wonderful story and you told it so well. Many, many different experiences filled your life.
As you look back now, what closing statements would you like to say?
I would like to say that I have had a wonderful life. I think when you listen to the things I
did and the places I went and the services I had, I think you will agree that I had a very
- not really integrated experiences – but I look at them now and see where they were
part of the whole.
And one built on the other.
Yes, even though they were different places and different activities, I am very grateful
that I had the opportunity to have all of those various experiences. Like going to Paris,
and going to Taiwan, and I never really. … my nurses in the hospital in Taiwan, they
didn’t know much… they had had English taught to them every year that they went to
school but they never used it. So, I made them use it. And they helped me to do a little
Chinese, too, so it was reciprocal. What I liked about my experience in Taiwan was that
the Chinese people would bring their patients to the hospital. The people that lived up
north in the mountains, they would bring their mothers and their fathers to the hospital.
And they would just leave them there and never come back to see them. So we would
take care of them until… most of them were borderline dying and we would stay with
them. But I really felt it was special for me because I would sit with them. If we had any
patient that we knew was going to die, I would sit there with the patient til the very end.
That was very special to me because I did not want them there by themselves. And the
nurses – they wouldn’t go. That wasn’t part of their service. That was a wonderful
experience for me.
Thank you very much and thank you for sharing your beautiful life with us.
It has been beautiful and I’ve loved every minute of it. And I thank you, my Sisters,
you’re all part of my life now. So I’m very grateful to you for supporting me and being
with me. Amen.


Dublin Core


Scharper, Sr. Annina, D.C. Oral History


Scharper, Sr. Annina, D.C.; Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul


Sister Annina Scharper discusses her life as a teacher, nurse and admnistrator as a sister of the Daughters of Charity.


Scharper, Sr. Annina, D.C.; Schmalzried, Sr. Maureen, D.C.


Daughters of Charity Archives, Province of St. Louise, Emmitsburg, MD




Keefer, Scott (Transcriber)


Permission for any type of publication of archival materials, including text, photographs, video, or audio must be secured from the Daughters of Charity Communications Director before publication.ÿ Contact archvies staff for appropriate forms and contact information During the lifetime of the interviewer and interviewee, permission must be secured from the individuals directly.


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Oral History


Scharper, Sister Annina Oral History



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Schmalzried, Sister Maureen, D.C.


Scharper, Sister Annina, D.C.


Emmitsburg, MD


Scharper, Sr. Annina, D.C.; Schmalzried, Sr. Maureen, D.C. , “Scharper, Sr. Annina, D.C. Oral History,” Sisters of Charity Federation Archives, accessed October 2, 2023,


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