“Throughout motherhood, my twenty-year career as an educator, and my time serving the archdiocese, the idea to open a Catholic Worker House kept hounding me. I wanted to open the House right away, but my brother reminded me that there is a season for all callings.”
2022 Woman of Faith creates community for survivors of sexual exploitation through prayer and work
Devotion to service, courage, and commitment are the building blocks of Frank Miller’s nomination of Anne Haines for our 2022 Woman of Faith Award. Frank and Anne’s friendship began in 2016 after he heard her speak at an Eat, Drink, and Be Catholic event in Milwaukee. Anne was sharing her deep admiration for Dorothy Day, co-founder of the Catholic Worker Movement, and her example of living the Catholic faith without compromise. “Listening to Anne, I realized she was a woman of exceptional faith. Since that meeting, I’ve come to know how deeply she believes in living her faith…”
Anne, at the time, was working for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and would soon serve as Executive Director/Episcopal Representative for the Archdiocese’s Urban Initiative Milwaukee. One of the Initiative’s goals was to build a community and religious center in the 53206 zip code – one of the most incarcerated in the U.S. Anne spent three years developing relationships with community members in this area, but unfortunately, COVID-19 shut the project down. Saddened by the dashing of one dream, Anne decided to pursue another: opening a Catholic Worker House to serve Milwaukee’s most vulnerable.
Relying on the expertise and experience of friends and colleagues, Anne established the St. Bakhita Catholic Worker House – named after the patron saint of survivors of human trafficking and slavery. A gift from the Capuchins Franciscan, the aptly named House has two goals: model the Eight Beatitudes Jesus gave in his Sermon on the Mount and, in partnership with the Franciscan Peacemakers Clare Community, provide survivors of sexual exploitation with a residential community. “For Anne, the Beatitudes are not hyperbole. They are not aspirational goals. They are her mission statement, and they have guided her actions for years,” Frank says.
Frank now serves as Secretary/Treasurer on St. Bakhita’s board of directors along with John Cary as Board President. Both remain inspired by Anne’s commitment to caring, loving, and serving. “It is an honor to call Anne a friend,” John says, “and it is a true honor to work with her while witnessing her role of servant leadership. I have often referred to her as ‘a Saint walking this earth.’ She is uncomfortable with this moniker as you might expect but she lives up to it through her caring actions.”
Lisa Metz, theology chair at Divine Savior Holy Angels High School (DSHA), is also inspired by her friend’s loving and hospitable nature. She says, “Anne doesn’t look at her work as needing to fix people because they are broken. Instead, she sees the beauty in each and every individual. She embodies the idea of accompaniment, something that Pope Francis challenges us to do.”
In fact, Anne so firmly believes in community and accompaniment that she forfeited a stable job and a comfortable house to move into the St. Bakhita House as its full-time director in May 2022. A move her support system, composed of six adult children and plenty of friends, recognize as a testimony to the courage faith provides. This courage, says Dr. Katie Pickart, director of Salvatorian Service at DSHA, was evident in Anne while collaborating with her for the students’ 2021 Advent project benefiting St. Bakhita House.
“Anne has taken the leap. She has followed God’s call for her life at every turn, and as she changes lives for the better, she has been fashioned into a radiant woman of faith,” says Katie. Frank echoes this sentiment, “Anne once advised me, ‘Commitment makes you happy.’ Anne has committed to living the gospel. She has committed to emulating the lives of two of the 20th century’s holiest women, Dorothy Day and St. Josephine Bakhita. Most of all she has committed to joining belief and action, love and community, hope and help. All day and every day.”
Learn more at bakhitahouse.org
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