The story of Ann Russell Miller, a socialite and millionaire who became a nunPictolic
The other day, a 92-year-old nun who had taken vows of silence, seclusion and poverty many years ago died in a Chicago convent. For three decades, she had been forgotten-and only her family remembered that her silent sister, Maria Josepha, had once been a socialite and millionaire whose name did not leave the pages of the gossip columns.
Before taking the veil, Sister Maria Josepha was known as Ann Russell Miller, a wealthy socialite from San Francisco who threw lavish parties, bought opera tickets, and was the mother of ten children.
Her biography was very unusual. Born in 1928, Ann dreamed of becoming a nun, but an unexpected love crossed out all plans. Her chosen one was good-looking and very rich. At the age of 20, she married Richard Miller, a vice president of Pacific Gas and Electric. By the age of 27, she had five children, and over the next decade, she gave birth to five more.
Ann raised her children in a nine-bedroom mansion overlooking the San Francisco Bay. At the same time, she had plenty of time for entertainment: she took groups of friends skiing, sailing in the Mediterranean, and conducting archaeological excavations. She was a member of 22 different community councils and raised money for gifted college students, the homeless, and the Roman Catholic Church.
Her husband died of cancer in 1984. After that, she began the long journey of joining one of the strictest monastic orders in the world. Five years later, she gave everything she had to become one of the Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Carmel in Des Plaines, Illinois.
The Carmelite nuns are a closed ascetic order that lives mostly in silence. They do not leave the monastery, except when it is necessary, for example, to visit a doctor. The nuns speak only when necessary, leaving as much time as possible for reflection and prayer.
Ann has 28 grandchildren, some of whom she has never met, and more than a dozen great-grandchildren, none of whom she has ever met. She slept in her cell on a wooden plank covered with a thin mattress, and wore coarse brown clothes and sandals. It was a stark contrast to her previous life with silk umbrellas, Hermes scarves and Versace shoes.
On her 61st birthday, Ann threw a party for 800 guests at the Hilton Hotel in San Francisco to say goodbye to her friends and family. They ate expensive seafood, listened to live orchestral music. Eyewitnesses said that Ann wore a flower crown and tied a helium balloon with the inscription "Here I am" to her so that all her friends could find her in the crowd and say goodbye in person.
She told the guests that she devoted the first 30 years of her life to herself, the second 30 years to her children, and the last third of her life would be dedicated to God. The next day, she flew to Chicago to live in a convent as Sister Maria Josepha.