Dear Sisters and Associates, Co-Workers, Family and Friends,
In the early hours of this day, August 5, while the quiet of the night surrounded a sleeping world, our beloved Sister Mary Ann Miles peacefully journeyed home to God. Those of us who knew her musical heart are certain that her “flight” to the divine chambers was accompanied by joyous music, as well.
Mary Ann was born, the oldest of two children, to Mary Pauline and James Hobart Miles on April 29, 1927. Growing up in St. Bernard, Ohio, Mary Ann’s early life was influenced strongly by the values of family and her home parish of St. Clement Church and School, where she first encountered the Oldenburg Franciscan Sisters. Along with her younger sister Jeanne (fondly known as “Babe”), Mary Ann was enriched by the prayer and devotion of her Catholic faith. “The religious functions held in St. Clement Church were inspirational—the glorious music of Mr. Young and the Adult Choir, and the Children’s Choir, Corpus Christi Procession, Forty Hours, with many, many Franciscan Friars and Sisters walking in procession,” she recalled. She fondly remembered “rising early each morning during May and walking up Vine Street for the 6:00 AM May devotions in Church.”
Coupled with her experiences of Church were her opportunities for musical involvement. Already in elementary school, she belonged to the junior orchestra, playing the violin, and relished rehearsals at lunchtime—even sometimes performing on the school roof! Under the auspices of Sister Cecelia Marie and Sister Mary Albert, Mary Ann enjoyed membership in a combined school band of 125 members where she exchanged her violin for a baritone horn. “How proud we were to march every year in the Holy Name Parade!” she exclaimed.
This passion for music was enhanced as she continued her education at Our Lady of the Angels High School. She considered the band and orchestra practices “a highlight” of her week. “The senior orchestra, composed of all high school boys and girls, would practice from 6:00 PM to 7:00 PM each Thursday. Then after the orchestra practice we would have band practice from 7:00 PM to 8:00 PM.” These vivid memories bespeak the powerful attraction for music which would fill Mary Ann’s entire life.
Always, she knew that being a Sister was her life choice. In 1945, just two months after graduation, Mary Ann took that critical step into her future. “Although Oldenburg was but 50 miles from Cincinnati, I never saw the place until that sunny Saturday morning in September when I entered the front gate, up the concrete step and porch and in the front door of the great red brick building—everything seemed so BIG to me. No family member accompanied me. I left home in a taxi cab, then on to the train depot where I met Sister Geraldine Marie, and she made the trip to Oldenburg with me.” There, Mary Ann became Sister Mary Hobart—a name she retained until later practices allowed the Sisters’ return to baptismal names.
For 50 years Mary Ann excelled at the ministry she loved—giving music lessons, primarily in piano, to students from kindergarten through high school. Sometimes, adults were also her pupils. “Each student was unique, possessing their own degree of talent. It was interesting to see development of their talent in piano, violin, trombone, etc.—whatever the musical instrument might be.” In many places where she was assigned, she also functioned as the parish organist. This meant playing organ for adult choirs at Sunday liturgies, for high school and grade school choirs, as well as any Sunday and weekday Masses on the parish schedule. She also had the joy of working with grade school marching bands, which included the expansion of her music lessons to include any band instruments.
Meanwhile, Mary Ann joined her family in preparing meals for the elderly at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. This project, begun by her niece and Associate Sandy (Yogi) Wess and Yogi’s husband Randy Yauss, involved her sister Jeanette Wess and husband Tom, Yogi’s siblings, Bruce, Michael, Tom, and Gail, as well as Mary Ann and Jeanette’s elderly mother, Pauline. Their efforts evolved into an organization called “Friends of the Little Brothers”, a non-profit group which expanded its outreach and continues in its mission of serving the poor and elderly in Cincinnati to this day.
Returning to the Motherhouse in 1970, Mary Ann taught at Immaculate Conception Academy (now Oldenburg Academy) while functioning as the Convent Chapel organist. In 1997, after a 50-year full-time career, she decided to teach part-time while already serving as a clerk in the Community’s Communication Office. Her service as clerk spanned 21 years, until her retirement in 2012.
We extend our heartfelt sympathy to Mary Ann’s nieces and nephews, extended family and friends, as well as the Sisters and Associates who were so devoted to her. We express special gratitude to the nursing staff at St. Clare Hall who provided so gently for her care.
Speaking of her life of service, Mary Ann wrote, “Music has played a great part in my relationship with God … as I play the organ, I am praying with it … each note at a time and, hopefully, in heaven it will play an ever greater part.” May Mary Ann’s deepest wishes now be fulfilled as she sings the song of her life before the throne of God!
S. Delouise Menges, OSF
for the General Council