Sister Magdalita Wyczalek, SSND
Jan. 11, 1915 – July 19, 2019
“We must name her after my mother,” Roman proudly said to his wife and the mother of their newborn baby girl. Julia Wyczalek was born in Baltimore, Md. on Jan. 11, 1915. She was the daughter of Roman and Maryanna Kwarciana Wyczalek, natives of Poland. Two weeks later, Julia was carried to Holy Rosary Church, where she became a child of God at baptism. The large Wyczalek family was eventually composed of Julia, her six brothers and four sisters.
Julia “yearned” to go to school. Remembering herself at age 6, she said, “I never felt bigger in my life than when I walked into the classroom for the first time.” She spent the first two years in public school and began St. Michael’s School in third grade. Julia said that she loved school, especially math, and was happy seeing the Sisters. She saw them in school and later became errand girl for the convent, as she purchased needed items, recorded the cost of each item and paid the storekeeper at the month’s end.
Julia was in third grade when she made her first Holy Communion and she received the sacrament of Confirmation as a fifth grader. In the eighth grade, she won a scholarship to the commercial school at St. Michael’s. At the completion of the program, she was hired as a bookkeeper. Not happy with this position, Julia was pleased when her mother asked for her help at home. Julia’s father had died during her early elementary school years.
While helping at home, Julia attended Baltimore City College evening school for three years. She earned the equivalent of three high school years. During this time the idea of becoming a School Sister of Notre Dame “filled her thoughts.” On Aug. 26, 1934, Julia received the bonnet in the “dear little” chapel of St. Michael’s Convent. Speaking of her year in the candidature she said, “I knew it was right for me to be there.” Julia completed her high school requirements and studied for normal school credits as a candidate.
Julia entered the novitiate on Aug. 15, 1936 and was given the name, Mary Magdalita. She was delighted, since she had wished for the similar name, Madgalen. Sister Magdalita professed her first vows on Aug. 16, 1937.
Newly professed Sister Magdalita was sent to St. John School, Bergenfield, NJ, to teach third grade (1937-41), then Corpus Christi School, Baltimore (1941-43), before going to the mother-house to be with the candidates. There she supervised chores and helped with sewing (1943-48). Returning to teaching, Sister went to Holy Ghost School in Coldwater, NY (1948-59), Our Lady of Fatima School, Baltimore, where she was principal and eighth grade teacher (1959-65) and St. Paul the Apostle School, Ellicott City, MD. (1965-66). Sister Magdalita was a community school supervisor and educational consultant in Baltimore (1966-74). She then returned to Our Lady of Fatima as principal (1974-85). Her final mission was St. John the Evangelist School, Hydes, MD, as teacher and later school office assistant (1985-98). Sister Magdalita came to Villa Assumpta to offer community service in 1998.
Sister Magdalita did advanced study at Nazareth College, Rochester, NY, earning a Bachelor of Science in Education in 1957. She received a Master of Education in Elementary Education Administration from Loyola University of Maryland (formerly Loyola College), Baltimore in 1970.
Sister Magdalita lived a truly exceptional life. Her companion sisters described her as a “model” religious in the finest sense of the word. It was said that she “saved many a vocation” when she worked with the postulants. She was a wonderful principal and educator. Former students remembered that she always had a smile on her face and spoke kindly to them. They saw her as a special woman whose warmth and holiness touched their lives. Sister Magdalita loved her family and prayed especially for them daily.
A woman of simplicity and gentleness, Sister Magdalita was a cherished member of the Maria Health Care community until her death on July 19 at the age of 104 years. Sister Magdalita was the last remaining Baltimore SSND to be a member of the “Nuns’ Study,” which she described as a “search for longevity.”
Family and sisters gathered for a Christian Wake service for Sister Magdalita on July 30, 2019. The Mass of Christian Burial was concelebrated on July 31 by Rev. John McCloskey OFM Cap., chaplain of Villa Assumpta, and Rev. Kevin Ewing, Associate Pastor, Cathedral of Mary our Queen, a former student of Sister Magdalita. Both services were held in the chapel of Villa Assumpta. Interment followed at Villa Maria Cemetery, Glen Arm Rd., Glen Arm Md. Sister Magdalita is survived by her sister, Josephine Kammer, and niece, Phyllis Harrant.
- Jeanne Hildenbrand, SSND