Living the Faith: Anne Hanning

WALTHAM -- For more than half a century, Anne Hanning has placed her talents at the service of her parish, St. Charles Borromeo in Waltham.

“It all started with an appeal for religious education teachers,” the 75-year-old recalled. “Even though I was pretty apprehensive at first, I decided to give it a try. And I found that I really enjoyed teaching.”

For the next 30 years, Hanning taught religious education to eighth graders. She also became involved in her parish in a host of other ways: she became an extraordinary minister of holy Communion, the youth coordinator for the parish’s teen group, and ran fundraisers and parish events, just to name a few of Hanning’s contributions.

A native of Waltham, Hanning had attended St. Charles her entire life, although she was hesitant to volunteer for parish activities.

“I think that many people are scared to get involved in their parish because they don’t know if they’ll be good at whatever they are thinking of doing,” she mused. “But for me, getting involved has been one wonderful opportunity after another.”

Having never married and with no children of her own, Hanning feels a very close bond with fellow parishioners.

“I have always been struck by the line in the Gospel that says that the harvest is plenty but the workers are few,” she said. “Here at St. Charles we have a great group of people who are willing to work.”

“There’s a special bond between the people who share their faith, who always work together for the betterment of the parish,” she continued.

Although Hanning is no longer involved in as many aspects of parish life as she was in her younger years, she currently coordinates an annual Christmastime visit to a nearby nursing home, complete with personalized gifts for each of the residents.

Each year, Hanning receives a list of the residents and what they desire for Christmas. She presents the list to the parishioners at St. Charles, who in turn are invited to “adopt” a person and provide a gift for him or her. Just before Christmas, Hanning visits the nursing home “laden with gifts” for the residents.

“It’s a way that they feel loved,” she said.

“And my parish is always very generous in their gift-giving,” she added.

Hanning also helps make sandwiches and “goodies” once a month for two area shelters for homeless women and their children. Reaching out to others in need is something she believes her parish is very successful at, beginning with her pastor, Father Rodney Copp, who Hanning said has a “very special gift of bringing back to the faith persons with previous addictions.”

Through the years, she has seen how her parish has consistently reached out to the poor, immigrants, the elderly and the needy in a very special way.

“It is because of that welcoming nature that our parish is a great mix of people -- very diversified, cross-cultured, with Hispanics and Haitians and French Canadians and others all together in one place,” she said, adding that “St. Charles is known as the friendly parish.”

“We come together to thank God and to ask for his help, and just to be together,” she said. “I am blessed to be a part of it.”

St. Charles Borromeo, Waltham

Year Established -- 1909

Pastor -- Father Rodney Copp

Religious Ed. Director -- Carol Gill

Music Director -- Lawrence Vanaria

Organist -- Anthony Sagnella