When Ann Burger Klocke ’56 was still a student at Nardin Academy in Buffalo, New York, her mother read an article in Good Housekeeping about women’s colleges citing Marygrove among them. A Midwest location, reasonable cost and a campus tour made the decision easy for Ann and her parents. Ann says that Marygrove’s emphasis on social action continues to this day to influence her choices.
After graduating, Ann returned to Buffalo to teach in an inner city elementary school while earning a Master of Science in Education at Buffalo State College. She left teaching to raise a family of five—“my proudest achievement.” For a number of years Ann was deeply involved in parish life at St. Gregory the Great in Williamsville, New York. Ann taught religious education classes, served as lector and Eucharistic minister, assisted in the parish renewal and Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) programs. In 1990, Ann earned a Master of Arts in Pastoral Ministry from Christ the King Seminary in the Buffalo diocese and was asked to join its Board of Trustees. She gave the seminary’s commencement address in 1993, the first woman to do so, to the delight of her three daughters and the pride of her husband and two sons.
In 1988, Ann organized the Food Shuttle of Western New York after reading in the New York Times about a similar service. The all-volunteer organization picks up surplus food from supermarkets, restaurants and other providers and delivers it to soup kitchens, shelters and food pantries using a need-to-match system devised by Ann. Although Ann and her husband, Dr. Francis Klocke, relocated to Chicago in 1991, the Food Shuttle continues to flourish with 200 volunteers moving 500 tons of food annually to more than 100 soup kitchens, shelters and food pantries to meet the needs of the hungry.
According to Dr. Klocke, Ann essentially “started over” when he was recruited to head a new program at Northwestern University. With the move the couple traded suburban living for a downtown high rise where “the view is always amazing.” Ann joined the staff at St. Bonaventure, a multi-ethnic parish, as Director of Evangelization for two years. She was then invited to become a pastoral associate at her own parish, Holy Name Cathedral in downtown Chicago. She eventually assumed responsibility for the RCIA program, the largest in the Archdiocese with about 50 candidates each year. She also coordinates the Adult Confirmation program for about 150 candidates annually. Ann’s pastor, Msgr. Dan Mayall, writes, “Never does Ann approach her job in an ordinary way. She is committed to evaluate and to improve—Ann’s leadership sets that standard. She is committed to making that for which she is responsible a reflection of her faith.” For the past 15 years Ann also has served as a field advocate for the Chicago Archdiocesan Metropolitan Tribunal, a body that determines the merits of applications for annulments.
Another of Ann’s commitments is Chicago Shares, a program she developed to help people in need in Chicago. The idea grew from a combination of encounters she had with panhandlers in the city and an article she read in the Chicago Tribune about an innovative program to help those in genuine need in Berkeley, California.
When Ann was approached four times in a single block by people begging for money to buy food, she determined she had to do something, so she launched the new program. This is how Chicago Shares works: Volunteers contact merchants asking them to accept vouchers with a value of one dollar each with the promise that they will be redeemed at face value by the Chicago Shares organization. This turned out to be the most difficult part of the program. Vouchers are sold to parishioners at downtown churches and synagogues in books of five for $5. The generous people who buy them then give them out to homeless people who, in turn, redeem the vouchers at any of 20 merchants for food and necessities at grocery stores, pharmacies, bakeries and restaurants. Lists of places where the vouchers may be used are available upon request. As a testament to the program’s success, the downtown Jewel Store, Chicago’s major supermarket chain, turned in $69,000 of the slips in four years. Ann is now “President Emeritus” of the still all-volunteer program.