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Sister Mary Estelle Waclawczyk
During a rare and beautiful snowfall, Sister Mary Estelle Waclawczyk passed away on Monday, Feb. 3, 2014, in the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Convent in Rio Rancho, N.M. She was born on May 20, 1929, to William “Willie” and Mary Lee (Dzuik) Waclawczyk of Cestohowa, Texas, and was named Edna at baptism.
Edna received her grade school education through the Felician Sisters and by the time she made her First Holy Communion, she had made her decision to become one of them. On July 2, 1943, she traveled to Chicago, Ill., to begin the first step of this choice as a high school student at Our Lady of Good Counsel High School. Upon her graduation in 1947, she entered the Felician Order in Chicago. In 1949 she began her 51-year classroom teaching ministry with a combination of second- and third-graders. For the next consecutive 21 years, she taught either two or three grades at a time. Sister’s education ministry sites included Chicago, Ill.; St. Hedwig, Cestohowa, Panna Maria, Bremond, and San Antonio, Texas; Aston and Exeter, Neb.; and Arcadia and Claremont, Calif. To this day, her former students, as well as parents, remember their “best teacher” with visits or some other form of communication.
Sister did not stop after 51 years in the classroom; when she was transferred to Rio Rancho, she quickly channeled her education skills to tutoring at St. Felix Pantry. Sister Estelle was also an accomplished seamstress and baker. She is well-known for her many and varied crochet projects. In addition to her teaching, she also served as sacristan in most of her teaching locations as well as during her years in Rio Rancho. In all things, Sister Estelle was a perfectionist, and all her gifts and skills were used to the best of her ability to make life easier and more pleasant for others. Sister had a special gift for growing violets and every year she would start as many plants as she had students so that every child she taught could present their mother with a potted blooming plant on Mother’s Day. One of her most cherished experiences was to visit Poland and to kneel on the same kneeler which Blessed Angela had used for adoration. In addition to her strong devotion to Blessed Angela, Sister was a person of prayer who was mindful of the suffering and the needs of others as she prayed for the needs of the world.
Sister Estelle was preceded in death by her parents; an infant brother, Frank; her sisters, Magdalene Urbanczyk and Emma Opiela; and brothers-in-law Domin Opiela, Elias Urbanczyk, and Emil Skloss.
She is survived by her sister, Susie Skloss; brother Otto Waclawczyk and wife Gladys; and numerous nieces and nephews and great-nieces and great-nephews.
Rosary and wake services were held on Wednesday, Feb. 5, at 6:30 p.m. in the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Convent Chapel in Rio Rancho, N.M.
A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on Thursday at 9 a.m. in the convent chapel.
Burial followed in the Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Albuquerque.
A memorial service is pending at the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Catholic Church in Cestohowa, Texas.
Serving as pallbearers were Leroy Opiela, Mary Ann Barkley, Cap and Edna Vajdos, and Eli and Vivian Urbanczyk.
Memorial donations may be made to the Felician Sisters at 4210 Meadowlark Lane SE, Rio Rancho, N.M. 87124.
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