The US Socialite Who Gave Up Her Wealth, Left Her Family To Become A Nun

"She was kind of an unusual nun. She didn't sing very well. She was frequently late to her required duties around the convent," her son wrote.

The US Socialite Who Gave Up Her Wealth, Left Her Family To Become A Nun

But before she became Sister Mary Joseph, she was socialite Ann Russell Miller.

A nun who took a vow of silence and solitude died Saturday at the age of 92 in the monastery where she spent the last three decades of her life. But before she became Sister Mary Joseph of the Trinity, she was socialite Ann Russell Miller of San Francisco - and her remarkable life has now been documented in a series of tweets by her son Mark Miller. 

Until she gave it all up to become a nun, Ann Russell Miller was a wealthy San Francisco socialite who hosted charity events, attended the opera, went on cruises and spent her time getting glamorous at the Elizabeth Arden salon, according to newspaper accounts of her life. Wife to Richard Kendall Miller, an executive with Pacific Gas and Electric, and mother to 10 children, she had "a million and one friends, she smoked, she drank and she played cards".

"By age 27 she had five kids," said her youngest son, Mark Miller, in his tweets. "And then she went on to have five more - a basketball team of each sex. Planned Parenthood she called it."

"She became an Open-Water Diver. She drove so fast and recklessly that people got out of her car with a sore foot from slamming on the imaginary brake. She gave up smoking, alcohol and caffeine on the same day and somehow managed not to commit homicide as a result," he wrote. 

According to the BBC, Ann and her family lived in a nine-bedroom mansion overlooking the San Francisco Bay. She was known to whisk her friends away on exotic holidays -- skiing trips, Mediterranean yachts and archaeological digs.

In 1984, her husband Richard died of cancer. "Their spiritual lives were the center of their marriage," reads her death notice. Five years after her husband's death, Ann gave up her wealth and her connections, and left her family behind to become a nun. She joined the Sisters of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Des Plaines, Illinois - the Carmelite monastery where she would spend the rest of her life. 

Before she boarded the plane from San Francisco to begin her new life as Sister Mary Joseph, Ann had a grand going-away party which was attended by over 800 people. 

"I have only seen her twice in the last 33 years since she joined the convent," her son wrote. "Partly because the Carmelites are a contemplative order. They don't teach school, or work in hospitals, or even leave the building in which they live. They pray."

The Carmelite nuns live largely in silence and devote their life to contemplation. They "withdraw completely from the world and dedicate themselves entirely to a life of prayer and penance," says their website. 

When Ann's family did visit her, they were separated by a double metal grille, unable to touch or hold each other. 

"She has 28 grandchildren, some of whom she has never seen. She has more than a dozen great-grandchildren as well; none of whom she has held," her son wrote.

He concluded his now-viral Twitter thread by saying he wasn't looking for condolence messages. 

" Our relationship was...complicated. I am not in mourning. I do recognize that her semi-Augustinian life is close to singular. Born in the 20's and died in the 20's of the next century," wrote Mr Miller.

The thread has gone viral on the microblogging platform, racking up over 2 lakh 'likes' and nearly 24,000 'retweets' in three days. 

Sister Mary Joseph is survived by her 10 children, 28 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren. 

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