In May, I covered a jubilee celebration of consecrated religious Mass at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen in Homeland.
Among the clergy and religious who were recognized was School Sister of Notre Dame Mary Magdalita Wyczalek, a religious sister for 75 years. Sister Magdalita, as my classmates and I called her, was my either my third or fourth grade math teacher when I was a student at the parish school of St. John the Evangelist School in Hydes.
Now a few years shy of being a centenarian, Sister Magdalita did not remember me, but I was delighted to see her.
Math is not a strength of mine, but she made it easier. I still remember how she taught particular concepts, which have stuck with me. I remember where I sat in her classroom and her stern and serious demeanor.
As an elementary school student, I didn’t think about her call to religious life.
When I spoke to her at the Mass in May, she told me that her interest in becoming a religious sister began to develop in the third grade when she began visiting the convent after school.
“I used to be up there more than I was home,” Sister Mary Magdalita said.
She entered her order after finishing eighth grade at the former parish school at St. Michael’s in Fells Point.
I marveled at her devotion to God at a young age.
At the second annual Archdiocese of Baltimore Convocation of Catholic Schools in August, I talked to Madeleine Hobik, who was my fourth grade teacher at St. John. She is now the principal of the parish school of St. Margaret in Bel Air.
I still remember how she taught us about the water cycle – evaporation, condensation, precipitation and storage – and how I memorized and recited prayers to her, including the Apostles’ Creed.
As the Catholic Review’s education reporter, I look forward to continuing to reconnect with educators who helped to shape who I am today.