(The remarks of this interviewer are in italics.)
(Sister Maurice, despite the limitations of sight and hearing, has always left me with words of spiritual wisdom. This time was no exception. “God always shows upcoming in people who help us believe.” What wonderful words of wisdom!)
Margaret Cecilia was born November, 1924 to John and Mary Rubnicky Wayda in Clairton, Pennsylvania. She was the youngest daughter and had two sisters, – Ann and Mary and three brothers- John, Mike and Andy, as well as, an adopted cousin George. Margaret attended St. Joseph School in Clairton, staffed by the Vincentian Sisters of Charity. When she was ten, her mother died in an automobile accident. Her father was able to keep his children feeling secure and at peace with each other. He also had an ability to have house matters organized and orderly. While he had a job in the mill, his girls learned care of the house and practiced cooking. He found a way to give each child what was needed. Later John would marry again and Margaret is grateful for the good wife she was to her father.
After completing the eighth grade, Margaret wanted to continue her education in the convent. Her father decided that this was not good for her and so she enrolled in a public high school. During these years her brother Andy taught her to drive which would come later be a real asset for her ministries. She also enjoyed dances, parties, and friends. She said to her father,” Daddy, this is all very nice but it is not for me.” He even promised Margaret a car but she shared that it was not what she wanted. She insisted that she was called to be a Sister. “I think I owe my vocation to my mother. She always hoped I would be a Sister,” Sister Maurice reminisces. Finally, her father agreed that she could go.
In February, 1942 Margaret began her senior year of high school with the Vincentian Sisters in Pittsburgh, PA. Since she had a license to drive, Margaret, as a postulant, was assigned to deliver the milk each day, driving from the milk barn to the Motherhouse. Her father was not pleased about this assigned chore. He thought he allowed Margaret to go to the convent for better purposes than this. She assured him that this was only a temporary job and not her “destiny.” Six months later she would be given the name “Maurice” and then she made first vows in August, 1944.
Sister Maurice’s list of ministries is long and varied. She had assignments at these elementary schools: St. Florian School in United, PA, St. Joseph School in West Aliquippa, PA, St. Mary School in Uniontown, PA, Holy Trinity School in Duquesne, PA, St. Matthias School in Youngstown, Ohio, St. Michael Parish, Munhall, PA and twice at St. Bartholomew School in Crabtree, PA.
She acquired a Bachelor Degree in Education from Duquesne University and then a Master Degree in Communications from Notre Dame University, South Bend, Indiana. She also attended Mt Mercy College in Pittsburgh.
Sister Maurice also became a secondary school teacher: Mother Mary Mission, Phoenix, Alabama, twice at Mon Valley High School, Jefferson Hills, PA, and Vincentian High School, Pittsburgh, PA. There were office work assignments in several locations: the VSC Motherhouse, Villa de Marillac, and Vincentian High School, all in Pittsburgh.
Remembering the loss of her own mother she took special notice of girls who needed attention or direction and tried to give them much encouragement. She remarks, “I loved teaching and wanted to lead students to know that life is worth living.”
In 1980 Sister Maurice began a ministry whose memory still delights her. She became a Community purchasing agent. Listen to her account:
“Once a week for twenty-seven years a driver and I traveled to the Pittsburgh Strip District to select available and needed food items. I did my best to bring a kind word and God’s presence to the wholesale grocers who welcomed the business and appreciated my concern for their wellbeing. I think that my veil reminded them of their younger years in Catholic Schools. They were very generous in sharing with us extra crates of fruits and vegetables. Most of the men I knew by name!” (What a nice memory for Sister Maurice to have – herself in habit and veil shopping and visiting with the grocers there among the fruit and vegetable stands!)
Also, in 1980 Sister Maurice took on another unusual ministry. She was assigned to be responsible for the Printery where she made cards, calendars, community documents, and programs. At the beginning, with no training but with a willing heart, she worked diligently and soon began to enjoy the ministry. She took classes to enhance her knowledge and natural talent, including a six-week course in Illuminating at Fordham University in New York City and summer classes at Mt. Mercy College in Pittsburgh.
By 2010, because of failing eyesight, Sister Maurice retired from both purchasing and the Printery. Mastoid surgery as a child probably has contributed to the hearing problems she has faced. Despite these setbacks and a recent fall, Maurice continues to be a person of resilience. She doesn’t seem to give up. At the same time she is accepting of her health issues and says to this interviewer, “I am ninety–one. How much more time before God calls me?”
(Whatever the answer to this question which is the one all we humans face, Sister Maurice will have years of generous service and dedicated religious commitment to take to our God. May her remaining years be peaceful and blessed!)
Maria Vincent Brocato, SCN