(Vanessa Santilli interviewed Sr. Anna in the Catholic Register)
In Sr. Anna Chan’s earlier career in retail management, she sought happiness through a love of fine clothes, shoes and bags. “I was looking for happiness,” said Chan, “but I was looking in the wrong place.” She has found the right place and today, her life is much different. Chan is foundress of the Servants of the Cross, a journey she began at a retreat in Ottawa in 2003 when she felt God calling her to consecrated life. “When I felt that call, I had been on a nun run and nothing fit, so I asked, ‘Lord, where are you calling me?’ For some reason, through a prompting of the Holy Spirit, I went to the Companions of the Cross and spoke to the vocations director.” Chan asked whether the Companions had ever considered a sisterhood. The answer was yes — but that nothing had been started as of yet. “There was a gnawing in my heart which said this needs to happen now,” said Chan, who grew up in Mississauga, Ont. At the suggestion of the Companions’ General Superior, Chan went on a discernment retreat. “I went on retreat in Omaha, Nebraska, and there it was nothing but a green light. Yes, in fact, the word on my heart was to birth this sisterhood into life, that the Companions are my family and that it would be a step-by-step process.” She returned to Canada and her work got underway. Now, it’s been 12 years and there are currently three sisters and three novices in the Ottawa-based order.
The Servants of the Cross have a mission of evangelization. “The message is really simple,” she explained. “God loves us. He sent His son to die for us and to save us from our sins and for us to share that simple message with the world.” Bringing Christ to each person she meets is one of the highlights of her work. “It’s that one-on-one encounter with the Lord, whether it be at the grocery store, on a plane or in a restaurant, bringing that joy of Christ to people is the best part of the day for me.” Fr. Bob Bedard, founder of the Companions of the Cross, always envisioned that the Servants of the Cross’ unique spiritual gifts and talents would be used in the encounter of evangelization, said Chan.
“Right now, I do a lot of ministry in teaching and talks and giving conferences,” said Chan, on the phone from Halifax where she was putting on a lay associate retreat.
“But I never expected to go down this road or to be a foundress of a community. My desire was just to fulfill His will.”