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Sister Mary (M. Stanislaus) Michna, OP

Born to earthly life: August 15, 1919
Religious profession: August 4, 1938
Entered eternal life: December 14, 2015
 
Read S. Mary Michna's obituary by Suzanne Noffke, OP

Sister Mary Michna (Stanislaus)

Mary Michna was taught by Racine Dominicans at St. Joseph Elementary School, St. Catherine’s High School and Dominican College. Inspired by her teachers and her own love for learning, she knew at an early age she wanted to teach. “I liked helping people to learn and grow,” she said.

But S. Mary’s teaching was not limited to the classroom. After several years of teaching and serving as principal, she pursued a master’s degree in theology and spirituality. Her intent was to return to Notre Dame, where she had taken some undergrad classes, but women were denied access to the master’s program. Thus, in 1955, she graduated from St. Mary College, Notre Dame.

Seeing the need for religious education following the Vatican II Council, she became a pioneer in this arena. As she continued teaching high school, she also served as the director of religious education (DRE) at St. Clement in Center Line, MI, before becoming the DRE for St. Veronica Parish, the first to be hired in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. She then went on to establish and direct the first Office of Religious Education for the Milwaukee archdiocese.

S. Mary’s life and ministries have been guided by the unfulfilled needs she sees. Being a sister for 70+ years has been very meaningful because it has enabled her “to serve, to help people grow in their faith life.” Both personally and in helping to bring to life the community’s Constitution, “I have felt I am doing what Christ needs done at this time and in this place,” she reflected.

As teacher, principal, superior, DRE and later spiritual director, retreat leader and prison minister, S. Mary has continued to carry out “the mission of Christ.” In so doing, “I am fed, too; I work with people who are hungry for God’s Word, and I continue to grow and learn from each encounter.”

 


In celebration of S. Mary (Stanislaus) Michna's 75th Jubilee, she responded to these questions:

What first drew you to the Racine Dominican community?
I was taught by the Racine Dominicans from first grade on up, and I was drawn to them.

What has kept you in the community all these years?
The spirit of dedication as well as the happy community that we were – loving each other and striving to do God’s work together.

What was one particularly cherished memory of your years in ministry?
One cherished memory was when, together with a wonderful staff, we succeeded helping many of the parishes see the need for total faith development and the need to hire a professional Director of Religious Education (DRE). We succeeded in bringing professionals into our archdiocese. The organization of professional catechists (MAREDA) is still functioning today.

Another cherished memory is my prison ministry at Ellsworth. A prisoner sent a letter to the bishop, telling him that there was nothing Catholic at the prison. He sent it on to me, and very soon we started this ministry. It is such a wonderful experience to see the spiritual growth of these women. They come of their own accord every Saturday, eager to learn about their faith and assist at Communion services. They ask for confession and come without anyone pressuring them. They leave the prison, having found something they treasure. Also, each year there have been one or two women who ask to come into the Catholic Church. The bishop himself comes to accept them into the Church or to confer the sacrament of confirmation. I look back with happy memories of those events, as well as the extra times each week I went to the prison to instruct them.

What is one thing people today should know about the Racine Dominicans?
That they are truly committed to serve God’s people and help them so that we may all meet in heaven when our tasks here are completed.

What do you enjoy doing at this time of your life?
Because I am a 75th jubilarian, I cannot do all that I used to do, but I am given the time and space to do what I am
able without pressure. I can enjoy many of the things I didn’t
have time for before. I also have more time for prayer.

Sister Mary

Excerpt from S. Michna's description for her 2013 / 75 year Jubilarian Celebration

Sister Mary (Stanislaus) Michna was born in Racine, WI. She received a bachelor’s degree from Dominican College, and master’s degrees from St. Mary College, Notre Dame, IN, and Xavier College, Chicago. She taught in Wisconsin and Michigan, and was the first fulltime director of parish religious education in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. She later became archdiocesan director of religious education. S. Mary lives at Siena Center and is engaged with prison ministry with women at Ellsworth. She wrote a book which she recently published, Gospel Stories: a Fountain for Prayer.