On Saturday, July 16, 1938, the Convent of the Holy Family was the scene of a very colorful ceremony when a member of the order, Sister Mary Anastasia, celebrated her Golden Jubilee. A Solemn High Mass was held with Most Reverend Joseph Francis Rummel, Archbishop of New Orleans, delivering the sermon and congratulating Sister on the work she had engaged in for the past 50 years.
Sister Mary Anastasia, was born in 1867 to Roman and Eugenia Raymond in New Orleans, Louisiana. She entered the world as Sophie Raymond and lived with her father and mother and three brothers in the uptown section of the city. Before she reached the age of eight, her father suddenly passed away, leaving her mother as the head of the household. Unfortunately, on July 3, 1882 tragedy struck again. Sophie’s mother died and Sophie was only 15 years old.
After the death of her mother, Sophie, who had always attended public schools, was now entrusted to the care of the Sisters of the Holy Family and soon became a boarder at St. Mary’s Academy in the French Quarters. After completing her studies, a few years later, Sophie returned home but soon made the decision to devote her life to God. As a result, she entered the novitiate of the Holy Family Order at the young age of seventeen.
Four years later, July 16, 1888, Sister Anastasia pronounced her vows and began her teaching career which focused primarily on early childhood education. She devoted her life to working with kindergarteners and first graders. This journey would take her from New Orleans to Saint Augustine’s School in Donaldsonville, Louisiana as well as Holy Rosary School in Galveston, Texas.
In later years, she became a well- known figure at the Motherhouse in the French Quarters where she served as a tour guide. Tourists and other visitors to this historic location were always anxious to get a peep at the much-talked of ball room of bygone days, which was now a part of the convent. She was known to have won many friends on these visits because of her gentle, friendly and caring personality.
Many of her friends came together to make her 50th Anniversary a joyous one for Sister Anastasia who was as active as any young person, despite her age and her many years of teaching.
Sister remained active in the order and would even get to celebrate her 60th Anniversary in July of 1948. She passed away on the 28th of May, 1953 at the age of eighty-eight. Her funeral was held at the Motherhouse. She was buried in St. Louis Cemetery No. 2. Sister is only one example of the thousands of women who have given their lives and service to God and His people.
Sources: The Louisiana Weekly 30 July 1938 pages 1 and 2; 1880 Census- Ancestry.com (Ed:082, p.198b); 1875 New Orleans Soards’ City Directory p. 570; The Times Picayune (Obituary) 31 May, 1953 p. 18 col.7