Sister Marie Muskala(1915-2013)

(News Article) Sister Marie Muskala, a Franciscan nun who spent most of her nearly 80 years in the religious community as a teacher, died Thursday in Rosary Care Center, Sylvania, where she had lived 12 years.

She was 97 and would have turned 98 on Friday.

Her niece, Sister St. Anthony Chrzanak, said she had been in failing health, especially in the last several months. However, the member of the Sisters of St. Francis of Sylvania attended Mass regularly in a wheelchair at the care center, she said.

Sister Marie's work with the religious order was spent in education at elementary and high schools, both as a math teacher and principal.

"Mathematics was her strength," Sister St. Anthony, also a member of the Sisters of St. Francis, said. "She liked teaching math. She tried different things in the classroom to get her students to think. She used games and contest to challenge them mentally."

Among the schools that she taught were St. Hedwig School in Toledo. St. Mary's in Sandusky, and St. Ladislaus in Hamtramck, Mich. In her later years, she was a principal of Central Catholic High School, St. Clare Academy in Sylvania, St. Joseph in Crestline, Ohio, and St. Ann in Cincinnati.

She was born March 1, 1915, in Minneapolis to Rose and Albert Muskala. The second oldest of nine children, she attended All Saints School in Minneapolis before joining the Sisters of St. Francis in 1928 as a student at St. Clare Academy, the community's former boarding school for high school girls.

She professed her initial vows on Aug. 16, 1933, and made her final vows on Aug. 17, 1936. She was known as Sister Bede during her early years with the community, but later changed her name to Sister Marie.

She had a bacehlor's degree in education from the former De Sales College in Toledo. She also earned a master's degree in math from the University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Ind.

Sister St. Anthony said her aunt applied and receive many grants to participate in educational programs.

After leaving the classroom and administration of schools, Sister Marie worked with the office staff at Central Catholic High School in the 1970s when the Rev. John Thomas was principal.

Also, she worked at Holy Cross Hospital in Detrot in pastoral care and as a medical records clerk from 1977 to 2000.

Sister Marguerite Polcyn, a Fransican nun who taught at Central Catholic when Sister Marie worked in the office, said she recently encountered a former student of Sister Marie's who spoke highly of her teaching methods.

"She said she loved her and learned all of the math she could learn then from her," she said.

Sister St. Anthony and Sister Marguerite said age didn't deter her from new challenges, and she embraced technology by becoming skilled at using computers, the Internet, and sending emails.

Sister Marie had a sister who entered religious life; Sister M. Rose Muskala, a Fransican who taught at Cardinal Stritch High School and other schools, died in August, 2011.

Surviving are her sister, Mary Jane Partyka, and brother, Peter Muskala.

A welcoming will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday in Our Lady Queen of Peace Chapel at the motherhouse of the Sisters of St. Francis in Sylvania.

The funeral liturgy will be at 4 p.m. Friday in the chapel, preceded by visitation throughout the day. Memorial contributions are suggested to the Sisters of St. Francis. Arrangements are being handled by Thomas I. Wisniewski Funeral Home.

Published in Toledo Blade on Feb. 26, 2013