DYKER HEIGHTS — The memory of a beloved nun who served at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church for 52 years — right up to the time of her death in January at age 90 — will be kept alive thanks to a special tribute the parish is planning.
Sister Ann Martin Kelly, OP, was the sacristan at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church where she lovingly took care of priests’ vestments, holy oils, and other important religious items and helped prepare the church for Mass. To honor her, the church has established the Sister Ann Martin Fund to raise money to renovate the sacristy.
“It’s where she did her work. We wanted to pay tribute to her in a place that meant something to her,” said Msgr. Robert Romano, the church’s pastor.
“She did so much and she never wanted anything for it,” Msgr. Romano added.
The Sister Ann Martin Fund, which was established shortly after her death from natural causes on Jan. 24, has raised approximately $50,000 to date.
Msgr. Romano said the money will be used for stone and masonry work, installing new carpets, and adding new upholstery. A plaque commemorating the sacristy in Sister Ann’s name will be dedicated when the project is completed.
Many of the donations have come from Sister Ann’s former students. In addition to her role as sacristan, Sister Ann was a first-grade teacher at Our Lady of Guadalupe School for 29 years, starting in 1970. She retired in 1999. The school closed in 2019.
“Everybody loved Sister Ann,” said Virginia (Gina) Carvelli, who had her in the first grade in the late 1970s. Carvelli recalled that Sister Ann was generous to her students, even when they had out-of-the-box requests. For example, she allowed Carvelli to bring her newborn sister Maria to class for show-and-tell.
Carvelli’s sister, Maria Carvelli-Argiro, said Sister Ann’s kindness and skills as a top-notch teacher had a lasting effect on her. “She was one of the nicest people you would ever want to meet. She inspired me to become a first-grade teacher,” she said.
Just before speaking with The Tablet on Monday, Carvelli-Argiro was looking for something in her pocketbook when she came across the prayer card from Sister Ann’s wake. She had changed pocketbooks moments earlier.
Sister Ann remained part of her students’ lives even after they graduated from Our Lady of Guadalupe. She was also a friend who provided comfort and support in times of need. “She sat with me when my father died. She held my hand. I’ll never forget that,” Carvelli recalled.
Marina Cassiliano, director of religious education at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, marveled at Sister Ann’s memory. “She remembered the names of each one of her students, even many years after they left the school,” she said.
Cassiliano remembered her as a hard worker who was “involved in everything at the school” and always put her students first.
Sister Ann was also deeply devoted to her religious order, the Sisters of St. Dominic of Amityville, which she joined in 1951. She celebrated her 70th anniversary in 2021.
In her last months, as her health began to fail, Msgr. Romano, Cassiliano, and others took turns taking care of her. She continued to live at the church’s convent until her death.
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