At age 76, this Franciscan nun is still spreading the good word
By Colleen Williamson
Sister Ann Marie Slavin is a self-described rebel.
She buys children’s coloring books, colors the sky green and the grass purple, and doesn’t live by other people’s rules.
“A reluctant rebel,” the Franciscan sister clarifies with a laugh. “You have to be brave to be a rebel, and I’m not very brave.”
As she talks, however, it becomes clear that the sister is more fearless than most. On this brisk mid-October Saturday, it’s hardly been 24 hours since she’s had back surgery, but she’s already back to work. She’s traveled all around the world and worked across the country and now, as Associate Director of Communications for the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, blogs about her life and justice issues.
Slavin could certainly write this feature herself; part of her job entails featuring other sisters in her congregation for their website and internal news publication. While the features are called “Spotlight on…,” she finds instead that her fellow sisters often shy away from this spotlight due to their training in humility.
Admittedly, she also tries to steer conversations away from her life, so Slavin knows the right words to get the sisters to open up: she tells them not to focus on themselves, but on their mission. And what is this mission?
“We try to be sisters to everybody that we meet,” she explains. “We try to be a voice to those who have no voice.”
And her voice reaches far. At 76, she has more Twitter followers than an average 17-year-old—an impressive 2,300 people follow Slavin on the social media site, waiting to hear her opinions on anything from her favorite Bible verses to her thoughts on this year’s presidential election.
Slavin is a master both of old and modern media: she not only writes and edits a print newsletter, but also adapted to the shift towards online communication and became proficient with Twitter, Facebook, and online blogging. Continue reading