The Academy of the Sacred Heart and the Rosary Sacred Heart Alumnae Association are pleased to announce Ann Oertling Bertsch '58 as the recipient of the 2019 Mother Shannon Changemaker Award. Created in 2018, this award recognizes an alumna that has taken seriously our motto of "our girls change the world" by making a difference in her community outside of her dedication to Sacred Heart and has created positive change through her professional career or philanthropic endeavors in her community.
Ann is a retired Catholic School Educator and Administrator who “bloomed where she was planted,” and worked tirelessly in service of the Catholic institutions in the communities where her life’s path led her. Among her 36 years working in schools, she had the opportunity to teach at the Rosary from 1962-63. Ann is currently a volunteer in parish ministry at St. George Parish in Baton Rouge, serving as a Lector, Eucharistic Minister, Communion Minister to Homebound and Nursing Homes, the ACTS Retreat Ministry, RCIA Catechist, Giving Tree, Prayer Group Facilitator, St. Vincent de Paul volunteer, and Bereavement Ministry.
In the recent past Ann served on the Executive Committee for the design, building, and capital campaign for the building of the new St. George Church and pre-k classroom building, which concluded in 2017. Outside of parish ministry, she serves as a mentor to a group of Associates of the Sisters of St. Joseph and holds a role on the the Associate Advisory Committee.
What does Sacred Heart mean to you? How did your education set you on your path and influence who you are today?
I was a student at Sacred Heart from 1944-1958. It was my home away from home, and I only have happy memories and deep sense of gratitude. I believe that Sacred Heart is more than academics. It is the formation of a soul, a way of life. Faith and academics are carefully woven together so that one cannot be separated from the other. The wonderful example of faith, the education and care received from the RSCJs and the friendship of my classmates (Class of ‘58) have lived in my heart for 61 years. These values instilled in me a strong desire to give back. Life led me to places outside of New Orleans, and my mantra has been “Bloom Where You Are Planted.” College years were spent in Lake Forest, IL at Barat College of the Sacred Heart where I earned a B.A. During those years I taught religion classes to the children at the Great Lakes Naval Training Station.
My husband, George, and I were married in 1962. He began a tour of duty in Vietnam. During that year I taught at the Rosary. Following his return we moved to Mobile where four children were born. It was a busy life, but I was able to become a Catechist in the CCD program in our parish. In 1969 a job transfer took us to Waterville, Maine. During our years in Maine two more children were born. Our oldest daughter was ready to begin kindergarten. She began her school years at Mount Merici Academy, an Ursuline School. Three years later I began teaching at the Mount and through the generosity of the Ursulines earned an M.Ed at Boston College in the Catholic School Leadership Program. I served as principal of Mount Merci for four years. 1991 brought a return to Louisiana. I became principal of St. George Catholic School in Baton Rouge and served there for 16 years. The school was founded by the Congregation of St. Joseph. It was during those years that a friendship and association began with this religious community.
What is your favorite Sacred Heart memory?
Memories of each religious, teacher, and friends remain tucked in my heart. It is impossible to name just one. When our class celebrated 50 years of graduation we created a memory book and every RSCJ, every teacher, every prayerful and academic activity are listed filling several pages.
Anything else you would like to share?
I would like to express gratitude to my family for choosing the Rosary for me. My grandmother, Lillian Fabacher Trorlicht, and my mother, Lillian Trorlicht Oertling, we’re both children of the Sacred Heart. I am thankful that my parents, Sewall and Lillian Oertling, chose it for me.
As a wife (now a widow), mother of six, grandmother of 13, it is my prayer that I have passed on the values learned at the Rosary to another generation.