Peggy Ann Russell Says Yes

By Associate Peggy Ann Russell 

Being part of a faith community, as an Associate, is a remarkable experience. Praying and socializing together is life-giving. Two good friends also became Associates, and I've become close to many others as well.

Sister Mary Frances Angermaier (left) poses with Peggy at the November 2023 Recovenanting celebration.

As the Associates began learning about human trafficking through programs offered by the Sisters, we decided to share what we were learning with community members. We held a presentation and about 30 people attended. At the end of the morning, they asked us, What's next? So we started meeting monthly and went from there. 

I was asked to run for borough council. I said no, but the people who asked me said they would write in my name. They asked if I would accept the results if I won. I said I would think about it, but knew I would say no.

By that time, I was serving in a non-paid staff position as Director of Associates for the SSNDs. The next day, I drove to Baltimore for a meeting.  As I left Mass, I leaned down to Sister Kenneth Marie Botta to ask how she was feeling.  She asked me if I had ever read the Book of Esther. I realized the message was for me. Esther was called to speak for her people.

As I drove back up I-95, tears streamed down my face. I thought, This might have been what I was created to do.

I told the people who wanted me to run that I would follow the guidance of the Sisters. Residents called Sister Charmaine, who then called me and said, "You have our blessing." I ran in the election, but knew I wouldn't win. I was up against a powerful man.

I won.

I served two four-year terms, and am now in a final two-year term. Because of the SSNDs, I said yes even when it was hard, and brought our shared values to my work here in Oxford, PA. 

I've reached out to immigrants for the last 30 years because of the of the commitments of the Sisters. I conserve water by saving leftover water for my plants. I participate in Beyond Borders. I continue to be educated by the programs offered.

I can't imagine what my life would be like today without the School Sisters of Notre Dame and my Companion, Sister Mary Frances Angermaier!

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