S. Mary Vaculik
Born to Earthly Life January 15, 1932
Religious Profession August 15, 1951
Entered Eternal Life April 4, 2019
S. Mary was born to Frank Vaculik, an immigrant from Bohemia and Esther Lui of German descent on January 15, 1932. Her Baptismal name was Mary Margaret. Mary Margaret had an older sister who died as an infant of pneumonia. So Mary became the oldest of three living female children to Frank and Esther. She was born at home with the assistance of a mid-wife.
At age three, the family home burned to the ground. The family lived in the grainery until their new house was built. Mary remembers vividly seeing their house consumed by flames.
Mary Margaret attended St. Rita School and was picked up by Brother Morris, first in his farm truck and then a school bus, from her farm home to school each day. Eventually she began to love school and soon wanted to be a sister and teacher when she grew up.
Upon graduation from the eighth grade, Mary Margaret became a member of the first Racine Dominican aspirant class in September of 1946. She completed High School at St. Catherine’s in three years and entered as a postulant and novice in 1948 and 1949 respectively. As a novice Mary was given the name Catherine Ann, a name she would retain until the changes of Vatican II, when she again became known as Mary.
It took 11 years, actually summers, for Mary to earn her Bachelor’s Degree in Education from Dominican College. Mary taught in schools throughout Wisconsin and Michigan. When she was at St. Louis of Caledonia Parish School her father came to the convent to teach her to drive.
Mary attributes her frequent mission changes to the fact that she was a driver.
After classroom teaching, Mary became a Director of Religious Education at the Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Milwaukee. She loved this work immensely and spent 12 years in ministry there. While she worked at this parish, Mary completed her Master’s Degree at Loyola Mundelein College in Chicago. Her Master’s Thesis looked at death – children’s perceptions of death and how to speak to kids about death.
In 1989, Mary was ready for a change in her ministry. She spent the next 15 years of her life as a patient advocate at St. Francis Hospital. She was to help educate patients in the hospital about the new Durable Medical Power of Attorney for Health Care. She spent her time helping people understand that they can pre-direct their end of life care or the care they wish to receive when they cannot speak for themselves by executing a Power of Attorney for Health Care. So she continued to be an educator in the hospital, at parishes and senior centers, on 2 TV channels and WTMJ Talk Radio helping people know about the Power of Attorney for Health Care.
In 2004, it was time to retire, but she continued her ministry by visiting the elderly in her apartment complex. She delighted in sharing with others the fact that she had personally met Elizabeth Kubler Ross, Mother Theresa and Eli Weisel.
When Mary’s health status continued to decline, she knew it was time to move to Siena Center. From 2016 until her death, she shared her loving and compassionate smile with everyone she met. It was now time for her to have more time to pray and contemplate and visit with others as she was able. She rarely missed a meeting or community gathering and deeply loved the Community.
No matter how you felt, Mary's smile could light up any space and her sincere interest in each person lifted many spirits over many years of faithful service to the people of God.
We know God in his infinite mercy welcomes Mary home.