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Sister nears 50 years of service
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Sister Ann is a familiar name around Manteca, Lathrop and Tracy as the nun who manages to be there for everyone she meets from senior citizens to school children and inmates in state prison.

A humble woman who wants no notoriety about her accomplishments is about to celebrate her golden jubilee — 50 years as a nun next Jan. 7.

Sr. Ann Brito was born in the small town of Bambra, India. She was one of five children in a tight knit family — two boys and two girls. She was in the middle.  After getting her secondary teaching certificate she came to the U.S. and was hired at St. Bernard’s Catholic School in Tracy where she served the children of the community from 1976 until 1985.

From there she would transfer to St. George’s Parish in Stockton teaching kindergarten children both the 3-Rs and daily religion classes. While at St. George’s she started her prison ministry working with inmates who were held behind bars.

Teaching kindergarten by day and the prisoners by night she was meeting her challenges well.  One problem she will never forget was that she had a hard time keeping her fingers off the alarm button that sent prisoners either rushing for the floor or hitting the floor as guards often rushed in with their guns drawn. 

“I’ve been caught in lockdown several times,” she said of her tenure behind bars.  “Lockdowns lots of times. And, I caused the alarm to go off three times.”

When she carried an alarm button in her hand, she didn’t realize she had tripped the alarm until the guards rushed into the room, saying, “she’s the one!”    

“One time when I was sitting in a class room with the guys, I leaned over a desk and the alarm button on my belt came in contact with the corner of the desk when I leaned over to pick something up,” she recalled.

She learned much of her giving nature from her mother who had been called the Mother of Perpetual Help by her neighbors. She was always giving and did everything possible from tending funerals, new births and the cooking and sewing needs of the neighborhood, Sister Ann said.

She also noted that her dad was a rather quiet man who provided for his family well — quiet because her mom was the talkative one, she quipped.

She remembers teaching fifth and sixth grade when she exited the convent near her home near Bombay. It was the school where she had gone for eight years in her youth.  She had also gone to high school in Bombay.

Now she is looking out for senior citizens, whether they are Catholic or not, at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in Manteca.  She holds countless noon luncheons for the seniors every month that usually draws a crowd of some 250 seniors.  They enjoy a small band that she brings to the lunch, dance and socialize with new friends they met earlier or on that day.

It was a few years ago that Sr. Ann was elevated by the city to the Manteca Hall of Fame with her portrait among other in the new Manteca Transit Center on Moffat Boulevard. Her favorite thrill among all others is probably when she met Pole John Paul in Rome in 1991.

As for her upcoming Golden Jubilee marking her 50 years of service to others and to God, she said she is surprised that she has lived long enough to reach that bench mark in her life.

To contact Glenn Kahl email or call 209.249.3539.