The life of Sr. Annunciata Auletta


Claudia Lee '24

Sr. Annunciata Auletta now works at FSH but previously worked as a teacher and librarian in other schools.

It’s 6:10 a.m. on a Tuesday morning in the administration building, and the Flintridge Sacred Heart sisters are doing their morning prayer. Among them is Sister Annunciata Auletta, one of the nine Dominican Sisters on the Hill. After morning prayer, she and the other sisters eat breakfast and attend Mass. After that she walks up to the high school building to get to work.

Now in her third year at Flintridge Sacred Heart, Sr. Annunciata is a regular sight at the library, where she can often be seen reshelving books or proctoring tests. Between tasks, she can be found satisfying her insatiable appetite for reading. It’s no surprise that she feels at home in the library, considering she was a librarian for about 35 years, but it may surprise some that her road to working in the library started on the East Coast.

Sr. Annunciata Auletta was born in Brooklyn, New York and is the eldest of three girls. At age 10, she and her family moved to San Gabriel, California where she attended the San Gabriel Mission Grammar School and later San Gabriel Mission High School. In high school, she met Dominican Sisters and began to seriously consider entering the convent, after toying with the idea casually on and off since childhood. 

“When I was a sophomore, I really thought, ‘yes,’ because I didn’t feel any great calling to anything else, particularly. But I had a strong gratitude for my faith and for the Catholic education that I had received, and I wanted to be able to offer that to other people,” Sr. Annunciata said. 

When Sr. Annunciata was young, her faith was firmly established in her because she got to go to Mass often due to going to a Catholic school. She also found her Confirmation to be one of the most defining moments of her formative years. 

“I was very impressed with my Confirmation. When I was confirmed, that took a hold of me. I lived out of that for a while. Nowadays they confirm youngsters at 16 or 17. I was confirmed at 10. The diocese, in those years, confirmed young. But I took it really seriously,” Sr. Annunciata said.

She first applied to enter the convent her senior year of high school and was about to pack her things and leave when her parents decided she should wait. 

“They decided no, I wasn’t going to go; I was going to go to college first. And when I was of age, if I wanted to do this — at that time, ‘of age’ was 21 — then I could do whatever I wanted,” Sr. Annunciata said. 

She attended college for two years, earning a bachelor’s degree in English and working part time in a library to earn money to support herself. When she finally turned 21 in 1963, she entered the novitiate, a period of time when prospective members of Catholic religious orders spend time preparing to enter the order and discern if it is the right path for them. In 1964, she professed her vows and received the habit.  

“The day that I made my first profession and said my vows for the first time was a high water mark in my life. I couldn’t believe it when it was over,” Sr. Annunciata said.

She later got her master’s in library science, and in 1970 Sr. Annunciata began teaching second grade before moving up to seventh grade and finally the high school level, where she taught English and history. In 1977, she began working as a full-time librarian at St. Michael’s in Los Angeles, where she worked until 2002. After that, she worked as a primary school librarian for 10 years. 

Outside of the workplace, Sr. Annunciata has a number of hobbies, including gardening. When she moved to California in 1951, she adjusted to a new climate and way of life. The Southern California weather helped her expand her interests and try new things that weren’t possible in Brooklyn.

“I didn’t know anything about gardening, but I ripped up the ground, and I dug it up and watered my little seeds. It must have been summertime, because I remember that the ground would dry, and you know it cracks, and I would stomp on it to close the ground, and there were these little plants trying to come out. I didn’t want the ground to break up like that! I wanted to grow something! So I didn’t start out with a great deal of moxie regarding gardening. But I learned little by little,” Sr. Annunciata said. 

Sr. Annunciata also enjoys crocheting baby sets and stitching bookmarks. 

“Once or twice I’ve done full-sized afghans, but it takes so long, and I get bored because it’s the same stitch over and over and over again, and it never seems to come to an end. I like to see something started, worked through and ended,” Sr. Annunciata said. 

More than any other hobby, however, Sr. Annunciata loves reading. She prefers fantasy and science fiction, particularly in children’s literature, but adores many genres. 

“‘The Little Prince’ is one that I’ve read lots of times. ‘The Wind in the Door’ and that trilogy I’ve read many times,” Sr. Annunciata said. 

Sr. Annunciata is not an author like the ones she enjoys reading, but ​​writing is a common practice for her and an expression of her faith. She has kept some form of notebook her entire life, and currently keeps a prayer journal. When she was younger, these notebooks served as a place to write down poems or quotations she enjoyed. Now, they serve to deepen her spiritual life. She starts with a question she thinks of during prayer, contemplates it and then begins to write.

“I’m always surprised by the answers that come up because they weren’t answers that were there before I started. So I think of it as a dialogue between myself and the Lord, my prayer journal,” Sr. Annunciata said.

Prayer is central to Sr. Annunciata’s life, especially given that it is one of the Dominican pillars, along with service, study and community. 

“[The pillars] don’t just relate to my spiritual life; they are the foundations of my spiritual life,” Sr. Annunciata said.

She feels a deep appreciation for the community she has up at Flintridge Sacred Heart. Sr. Annunciata and her fellow sisters live an intentional and honest life, working communally and enjoying each other’s company. She pointed out that while many consider the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience to be the most difficult parts of joining a religious order, she believes that community can be the most complex part. 

“Community life can be the most difficult aspect of religious life, and at the same time, it is the most satisfying aspect of religious life because that’s where you get your support. You get the support to move forward and do the things you’re supposed to do with the people around you,” Sr. Annunciata said.

When Sr. Annunciata first entered the convent, she worried about having too much community because she was already close friends with so many of the sisters. 

“I knew these sisters. I knew their life, and I remember, one time, asking my confessor, ‘Maybe it’s not a good idea for me to enter the order where I have so many friends.’ And he said, ‘Don’t worry about it. Religious life will be difficult enough. You don’t have to worry about having friends; friends are a good thing,’” Sr. Annunciata said. 

Sr. Annunciata loves and appreciates her fellow sisters more than she could have imagined before and is very thankful that she has people who she cares about and enjoys being with. 

“If you’re alive and you don’t love anybody, then you don’t have difficulties because it’s just you, yourself and you. But otherwise, the problems [of those in religious orders] may be a little bit different, but they’re not any worse or any easier than other people’s problems,” Sr. Annunciata said.