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In Memory of Sister Magdala Oswald, PHJC

Wednesday, 18 April 2018 15:07

Sister Magdala (Colette) Oswald, PHJC died peacefully on April 17, 2018 in the hospice room at Catherine Kasper Home in Donaldson, Indiana.

Sister Magdala, named Colette by her parents Joseph and Ida Oswald, grew up in a loving faith rooted home with her brothers and sisters: Ida, Fr. Ewald, Ann, Anthony, and Helen, all of whom are now deceased.

It was the dedicated PHJC Sisters teaching at St. Augustine school in Chicago where Colette attended that drew her to religious life.

Sister Magdala entered the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ Congregation novitiate on June 25, 1951 and professed her final vows on July 15, 1958. Her first ministry as a Poor Handmaid was to care for the children at Angel Guardian Orphanage on the Southside of Chicago.  She lovingly cared for children for 21 years at Angel Guardian Orphanage and then at St. John’s Orphanage in Belleville, Illinois.

In her 60-year jubilee reflection she wrote, “I am filled with gratitude for the good memories of helping the children grow up in a world that gave them many challenges.” Sister Magdala cared for all ages of children and enjoyed the preschoolers the most. She received her B.S. in Sociology from Loyola University while caring for these children.

Since 1974, Sister Magdala served in various positions in Donaldson: refectorian, housekeeper, assistant director at the Villa for high school girls, and as the Lindenwood Retreat and Conference Center office assistant and volunteer. She said of her time at Lindenwood, “It was a delight meeting so many folks at The Center and we have shared many joys and blessings as we continue to share in the charism of Blessed Catherine’s way of service.”

Those privileged to know Sister Magdala were recipients of her wonderful sense of humor and willingness to always be a help to others.  The Lindenwood staff and guests can especially attest to her warm, friendly spirit and gracious hospitality.

Sister Magdala was an avid Cub fan and enjoyed watching sports of many kinds. She received great pleasure in attending Ancilla College games and rooting for the Ancilla Chargers. A volunteer bread maker for Earthworks, a long-time quilter, and a gardener in awe of all creation (except geese!), Sister Magdala lived life to the fullest as a dedicated Poor Handmaid in a quiet and unassuming way.

Visitation will be held at the Catherine Kasper Home in Donaldson, Indiana on Friday, April 20, 2018 from 4:30 – 8:00 EDT. A Prayer Service will be held that same evening 7:00 p.m. EDT.

The Mass of Resurrection will be celebrated at Catherine Kasper Home on Saturday, April 21, 2018 at 10:00 a.m. EDT.

Burial will follow in the Mt. Carmel Cemetery, Donaldson, Indiana.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ, PO Box 1, Donaldson, Indiana 46513. 

 

By Rosemary Schroeder 

The word HERO is used too much these days. But I know someone who was truly worthy of that title...she was not a celebrity or movie star. I am honored to write about this very unique, dedicated and selfless PHJC, Sr. Magdala Oswald. Our journey together began in 1952. My sisters, Carol, Kay, our brother Bill and I, Rosie (The Smitty's), first arrived at AGO in a "paddy wagon" from St. Joseph's Home of the Friendless, leaving behind our Father, and very sick mother. While waiting in the office receiving area, we noticed a very young, spry Nun, coming toward us with a gait that would put the best gymnast to shame. She introduced herself as Sr. Magdala. We were unaware then, but she would be our primary caretaker and "Mother" for the remainder of our time at AGO. 

How fortunate we were to have such a kind and caring person to help us. In retrospect, Sr. Magdala's kindness, gentleness, and devotion spoke everything about what the PHJC's were. Through the years, Sr. Magdala became our safety net and best friend. Teaching, guiding and encouraging us, she taught us valuable lessons in life--especially treating others with respect. We were all equal and in the same "boat." At 4 yrs. old I was the youngest and assigned a "big kid" to show me the ropes of what was expected to complete daily chores. We learned how to keep cottage 48 clean - dusting, and mopping floors in "chorus-line" fashion, ironing and making our beds - with "corners" ugh! After many tears and angst, I had finally mastered it - thanks to Pat Cunningham. We were taught to take care of younger kids- daily washing them, keeping their hair neat, and their clothes put into their assigned #cases on a daily basis. Occasionally at playtime, we could roller skate on our outdoor attached porch while listening to the hand-cranked Victrola. Outdoor fun included baseball and volleyball and playing on outdoor equipment. To our surprise, we learned that Sr. Magdala and the other Sisters were very athletic and could actually run fast even with their "habits" on. 

One of the best memories I recall was Halloween. Sr. Magdala and Sr. Julienne changed our locker room into a haunted house. Not a year passes that I don't recall this treasured memory. Thank God for the Sisters' youth, ingenuity and creativity. On non-visiting Sunday's, Sr. Magdala gave us the opportunity to show-off our singing talents, with amateur hour in our dining room. We shared our favorite songs to impress our fellow diners. 

Realizing that we would be leaving AGO was a double-edged sword. We had become family with our cottage 48 friends, and sadly, we had to say goodbye to Sr. Magdala. Our six years had passed by very quickly with rewarding memories and lessons about life. We owed everything we learned and knew about our world after our mother Marian's death, to Sr. Magdala. She was the glue that kept us together, providing a safe and secure family setting. Sr. Magdala showed us how to cope in a world that we could change for ourselves and others. It's hard to imagine grooming a child to face a world of unknowns, but the SMITTY'S were given God's special grace and shown His abundant love and compassion through Sr. Magdala. How could we thank Sr. Magdala for her compassion, wisdom, and works of mercy? In our eyes, Sr. Magdala was our unsung hero. She is what led us to our lifetime quest of HIS love.

Word Gathering (Spring 2018)

Monday, 02 April 2018 13:57

Catherine Kasper was born on May 26, 1820 in Dernbach, Germany, the eighth child of a peasant farmer and his wife. The domestic conditions in which she grew up gave her empathy for the plight of the poor, especially rural poor. Through these experiences, she felt inspired by God to help them. This awakened in her the decision to devote herself entirely to the service of the people around her.

Canonization of Catherine Kasper

Wednesday, 07 March 2018 14:00
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