Sister Marie Annette Burkart

Looking back, Sister Marie Annette finds herself filled with a twofold gratitude – to God and to Notre Dame. As she expresses it: “The Sisters of Notre Dame have gifted me and invited me to serve in a variety of ways – as an educator, liturgist, vocation minister, chaplain and spiritual director. I never dreamed of such opportunities the day I entered. All I wanted then was to live with and help the Sisters. So now in these later years I find that I have come full circle in numerous ways to be of service to the community.”

She attended Notre Dame High School in Alameda, Cal., and entered the novitiate in 1957. As an educator, Sister Annette taught at elementary and high schools in Salinas, Los Angeles, Marysville, Millbrae, Redwood City and Honolulu, and at the then-College of Notre Dame in Belmont, Cal.. She earned a master's degree in musicology at Boston University.

Sr. Marie Annette Burkart with her sister Kathy and mother Audrey.

Sister sees the education she has been provided by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur as the umbrella for all the ministries in which she is involved. Her music background is integral to her work and part of who she is. For her, music is not performance, but prayer. As a chaplain, she has used song in accompanying patients in their last moments.

Annette has used her music extensively in liturgical ministry, including her service as Liturgy Coordinator for the Cathedral in San Jose. A musical high point for her was the Easter that Father Xavier Harris invited her to sing the Exultet at the Vigil in Belmont. She also coordinates the liturgies for the Sisters’ Jubilee celebrations and funerals.

Srs. Annette and Pat Hoffman (center) join other Religious in a march for immigration reform circa 2007.

Sister served for seven years as director of spiritual services at the Alma Via retirement and assisted living center in Union City. Now she brings that experience to the Mercy Retirement and Care Center in Oakland, where she volunteers and stays in touch with the Sisters and others living there.

Annette is active with the Tri-City Volunteers, a food bank and thrift store in Fremont. She is a member of the Tri-City Interfaith Council and was part of the Interfaith Women of Peace. She was instrumental in having the City of Fremont claim the title of “Compassionate City” in 2016 and “Sanctuary City” in 2017, and is the spokesperson for the Compassionate Fremont organization.

Mayor Bill Harrison of Fremont and Sr. Annette at the Compassionate Fremont signing event

In social justice, Sister  Annette walks the talk, that’s for sure!” says friend and Fremont resident Margery Leonard. “She has a particular gift for celebrating her Catholic faith, while reaching out to people of all different faiths.”

Sister Annette (center) with Srs. Nancy Uhl and Cristina Garces during her vocation ministry.

In Annette’s words, “Life continues to unfold, and I cannot help but see all as blessing, echoing St. Julie’s ‘How good is the good God!’” She cannot imagine life outside of the Notre Dame de Namur Community. From the time she was a child, she wanted to be a Sister. She is “awestruck with how good God has been to me!” All has been blessing.


Sr. Marie Annette Burkart with her niece Corrinn Garza.

At the time of her 60th Jubilee in 2017,  she said that these words of Dag Hammarskjold were especially meaningful to her: “For all that has been, thanks! For all that shall be, yes!”

By Sr. Katherine Nelson


  1. Annette has been a dear friend for the past many years since we lived in Hawaii together and she introduced me to the Charismatic community there at Chaminade College. Annette is a woman of deep love and spirituality that is overflowing to the most in need. Her ministries in ND have led her through, teaching at elementary, secondary and college levels. She is a many gifted woman filled with the spirit of compassion. She spent time after the founding of the diocese of San Jose as the director of liturgy at the cathedral. Annette seems to have a gift for working with people to help them see and do the best. While she was at Alma Via she used the talents of a liturgist to provide ways for the commuity to celebrate all the various ethnic and religious occasions for the staff as well as the residence. As her own spirituality deepened she went through the training to be able to help others grow as a spiritual director. Her most recent ministry has taken her into the community of Fremont introducing them to the Compassionate Community program. Within the community of ND Annette has worked with Associates and vocation ministry. Her gifts of music and art have graced many chapels where she has served. There is so much more I could say..

  2. Besides this amazing list that Sr Karen has written, Sister Annette has been one of the founders of Associate comaraderie through the Bay Area Conference of Associates and Religious. Her deep spiritual faith has inspired her to support and lead Associates to the companionship and ministry grounded in compassion, mission, and charism of Saint Julie. Thank you, Sr Annette, for your prayerful and ever deepening spirituality you have shared over the years.

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