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Art Exhibit "Pray to Love" Moves the Visitation Community

The Heritage Room in Founders Hall transformed into a sort of sanctuary Oct. 16-20 through “Pray to Love: The Annecy France Nun Series,an art exhibit featuring photographic paintings of Visitation Sisters in Annecy. The exhibit was hosted by Georgetown Visitation’s new St. Jane de Chantal Salesian Center. The artist, Anne Goetze, also created several pieces of the Georgetown Visitation Monastery for display.

Students, teachers, and faculty were moved by the artwork depicting the peace and love of the Visitation Sisters.

“It truly was a prayerful experience,” said Director of Learning Support Andrea Carroccio Fleury ’75. “I felt such a spirit of calm, awe, and joy, and am now even more thankful that I have had the blessing of the Visitation experience.”

Though the exhibit was open to the public, it was even more appropriate that the exhibit was on display on Founders’ Day, the day the school celebrates its rich heritage. Anne spoke at the Founders’ Day assembly and was a guest in many art and religion classes throughout the week. All the students spent time at the exhibit.

“I feel really peaceful looking at these paintings,” said Caroline Wong ‘19. “Especially looking at the ones with the nuns smiling because it give you a sense of peace and hope.”

The Georgetown Sisters especially were moved by the paintings. For many of the Georgetown Visitation Sisters, this meant that Anne brought Annecy to them.

“It was a homecoming of sorts for the Sisters,” said Olivia Wills Kane ’85, Director of the Salesian Center. “The paintings are the perfect companion for all the writings and teachings of St. Jane de Chantal and St. Francis de Sales, the Visitation Order’s founders, who started a monastery in Annecy, France.”

Anne Goetze was inspired by her trips to Annecy, France, to visit her Aunt Helen, Sister Margarite Marie. Through the years, Anne documented the Annecy Sisters, taking photos and video.

“Each time I gathered impressions through photography and documentation, each time I was filled with so much emotion by the beauty and spirit of the place. And each time when I returned home from one of the oldest cities in the Alps, I knew that I would never be the same again,” Anne said.

Sr. Mary Berchmans Hannan ’48 & ’50, Sr. Mary de Sales McNabb ’48, and Sr. Joanne Gonter, all Georgetown Visitation Sisters, knew Sr. Margarite Marie when she was a young woman here in the United States. Sr. Margarite Marie graduated from a Visitation high school in Wheeling, West Virginia, in 1946, where Sr. Joanne was a student. Sr. Margarite Marie attended college in St. Louis, Missouri, where she met Sr. Mary de Sales. And Sr. Margarite Marie met Sr. Berchmans when she came to Washington to study at Catholic University and Georgetown University before she moved to Annecy.

“Anne’s artwork was magnificent,” Sr. Joanne said.

When Sr. Margarite Marie died recently, Anne felt compelled to honor and celebrate her Aunt Helen, and all the Sisters she had met in Annecy through the years. So she turned to her work.

A touch up artist for much of her life, Anne decided to add colors, glazes and textures to her black and white photographs of the Sisters to make them stand out, highlighting different elements in the pictures. The process of her work turned out to be as much a spiritual journey as an artistic one. Her art showcases the Sisters praying, smiling, and living as one, in community for God.

Like the presence of our own Georgetown Visitation Sisters, the paintings inspire peace, love and contemplation.

“God knows as with everyone, the ways to reach and teach. For me, it was through the connective tissue of relationship and art,” Anne said.

This is the first major event sponsored by the the St. Jane de Chantal Salesian Center, which aims to to ensure that the Sisters’ gentle, inspired common sense approach to living endures and guides all aspects of a Visitation education.

To learn more about Anne and her art, go to www.annegoetze.com

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