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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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