At 6 years old, Mary Ann Koch developed a cancerous tumor on her brain, which resulted in her completely losing her eyesight. As an adult, she became acquainted with Fr. Bernie
Sippel, a retired priest of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. When he founded St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in New Berlin, he asked her to serve as the parish music minister.
She served the parish for 11 years and then transferred to St. Joseph’s Parish in Big Bend and served as music minister there for another 10 years. In addition to composing music, she has written several short books, including her most recently published, Sapphires and Daffodils, a collection of poetry she co-wrote with Elizabeth Kindt, her late friend, who was also blind.
According to Fr. Sippel, Koch is the third of six children and her family was members of Holy Assumption Parish in West Allis.
“Sr. Mel Marie had the Resource Room for the Blind at Holy Assumption and Mary Ann attended there; later on, she became Sister’s aid and she helped teach other blind children,” he said. “When she worked in both churches, she had an adult choir, a children’s choir and she taught music to the kids.”
Over the past several years, Koch developed writing as a hobby and her most recent poetry book, along with her two other books, are available on Amazon.
“She has a nice way of writing and writes about the ways God has touched her life,” Fr. Sippel said.
Koch, 68, said she enjoyed the years she worked as a music minister, and she and Fr. Sippel have become good friends. He sees her most days and helps her with the exercises she needs to do to recover from a recent stroke.
“I wanted to write my first book, Communications from Home, because I wanted to share how God has intervened so much in my life and so I thought I should put all of this down,” she said. “Before long, it all grew into a book.”
Koch’s second book, titled My Little Loves deals with the many cats that have shared their lives with her and her family.
Feedback from her books has been positive with readers wondering how she can write with such detail when she has no conscious memory of being able to see.
“I don’t know how it happens; I just get these visual pictures in my mind like butterflies or the color of flowers. I don’t remember seeing those things and I don’t know if I’ve gotten them from reading or listening to other people’s conversations,” Koch said. “I actually think God gives me these pictures in my mind’s eye. He’s my buddy and I attribute all things that I’ve accomplished with him helping me.”