Deaconess Anne Pew
As a member of the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri, we have historical ties to the Old North neighborhood. Old North was once home to Grace Episcopal Church, and much later Holy Cross House (a settlement house) in the neighborhood. The settlement house ministered to the area's poor through education programs, health initiatives, and community services. Deaconess Anne (Hannah Annie Pew) was charged with running the settlement house for six years (1906-1912). The Church News wrote, "During the six years that Deaconess Anne was in charge of Holy Cross House she was everything to the people except their Bishop. Not only Deaconess, which I suppose means the feminine of 'servant,' but also their pastor, which must mean their shepherdess, for she watched over needs spiritual as carefully as any commissioned pastor could do …she filled all the functions of a minister if not of a priest."
Deaconess Anne worked tirelessly for the church and for the neighborhood which she loved, but her work took a toll on her health. In 1912, Deaconess Anne underwent an operation (the type unknown) and "her health would not permit her to live in St. Louis and be 'our Deaconess' any longer." Parishioners, neighbors, and even State workers lamented the Deaconess' resignation. One city official wrote, "I didn't know Deaconess Anne well, but I believed in her." In ill health, Anne moved to California to recover. She never returned to the Gateway City.
Deaconess Anne left an invaluable mark upon the church. After Anne's departure a member of Holy Cross wrote, "We at Holy Cross would like to see her friends and admirers erect a memorial here to her. I doubt not but one will come." This memorial never came to fruition. In many respects, we (the Episcopal Service Corps in Old North) are Deaconess Anne's successors. The word "deacon" means ministry or service, and we hope to follow Deaconess Anne's example of ministry, service, and dedication. It might have come 100 years late, but Deaconess Anne has finally received a memorial that reflects, ever so dimly, her selfless work.