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10/2/2014 9:01:00 AM
Sister Anne Bryan Smollin, CSJ, 71

A funeral Mass was offered Sept. 30 in the chapel of St. Joseph's Provincial House, Latham, for Sister Anne Bryan Smollin, who died Sept. 25. She was 71 and had been a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet for 53 years.

A native of Troy, she had been the director of the Albany Diocese's Counseling for Laity Office for 33 years and was a nationally-known speaker on humor, laughter, communication and stress reduction. Prior to that, she was a psychologist at the Counseling Center in Albany, and had spent 12 years as a teacher and counselor in schools in Cohoes, Hoosick Falls and Albany.

It's easy to note the professional success of Sister Anne, who held a doctorate in counseling psychology and, in 2012, received the Bishop Broderick Award at the Diocese's Spring Enrichment event for "passion, dedication and commitment to bring the face of Jesus Christ and the Gospel in word and witness." She traveled the country as many as four or five days a week to give talks, counseled a long list of adults and children in the Diocese, served as a consultant to several hospitals and schools and to the U. S. Air Force, hosted her own radio show for 18 years and seemed to be on the schedule anytime an area parish had a speaker series or an evening of reflection.

What's less tangible but more important is the impact she had on countless people. Sister Anne's favorite topic in her talks was humor; she published several books on the subject, starting with 1994's "Jiggle Your Heart and Tickle Your Soul: The Uses of Joy and Laughter in Attaining Health and Happiness."

"Laughter is so important in our lives. It's therapeutic and healthy," she said in a 2006 interview about "Live, Laugh and Be Blessed," her third book. "It allows us to maintain a sense of balance, especially when life throws us surprises. We can so easily be overwhelmed with sadness, our own failures, and disappointments, depression and stress. Laughter allows us to experience more deeply and live more fully the life that God intended us to live."

What would Sister Anne say to grieving Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, family and friends? Here's a quote from one of her books: "Humor heals and relaxes. It renews the joy that gets hammered out of us by life's daily shocks. Humor gives us power. We often cannot control situations or events, but we can control our responses to them. When we choose humor as our response instead of discouragement or despair, we claim power."

Remembering Sister Anne means remembering the many funny stories she loved to tell, including poking fun at herself. She once joked about taking a tumble on black ice in her driveway and then having to do a TV interview "with torn pantyhose and a bruised ego. The day was a disaster, but I laughed all the way through it. In fact, laughter is what got me through it because, from that point, the day just got worse and worse."

Stories, she always said, are "how we give each other life." Surely, she will live on through her work and her stories as her soul is welcomed with joy into the heavenly kingdom.

Survivors include her mother, Irma, and sister, Kay. Interment was in Our Lady Queen of Virgins Cemetery, Latham.

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