March 4, 1926 – May 29, 2015
Laura Mae Wagner grew up in Holy Trinity Parish in Dayton, Ohio. Her family consisted of her parents, an older brother and a younger sister. It was at Holy Trinity that she first met the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur and their foundress, Saint Julie Billiart. She continued to get to know St. Julie and the Sisters of Notre Dame at Julienne High School. By the end of her sophomore year, Laura felt God was calling her to religious life. She asked to enter the Candidacy of the Sisters of Notre Dame to continue to listen to that call and to allow it to deepen.
Laura was accepted as a Candidate and became part of the Candidate community with the Sisters at Maryhurst in Columbus, Ohio. She continued her education with the Sisters of Notre Dame at St. Joseph Academy in Columbus. By the middle of her senior year, Laura decided to enter the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. On her application form she articulated the call as one “to become more Christ-like.” Laura was so sure of her call that she entered in February of her senior year. Over the next 71 years she never wavered from her firm belief in how God was calling her to live her life. As she later wrote, “I prefer keeping things as they were when I entered Notre Dame.”
Laura finished her secondary education at Mt. Notre Dame High School while a postulant at Mt. Notre Dame. As a novice she received the name Sister Margaret Cecilia. At the end of her novitiate she asked to make vows because of her desire “to give myself entirely to the service of my God.” For Sister Margaret Cecilia service to God took the form of teaching. Like Saint Julie, she saw education as the greatest work on earth.
Sister Margaret Cecilia spent three years with second graders. She then moved to fifth grade and quickly up to seventh and eighth grade where she spent the rest of her years in the classroom. Sister Margaret Cecilia served as principal for three years. Then was diagnosed with tuberculosis and forced to take a year off to recover. Described by her Sisters as a good teacher and principal, she returned to the classroom and in 1968 was missioned to teach junior high at Most Holy Trinity in Phoenix, Arizona. Sister Margaret Cecilia spent the next 40 years serving the people of Most Holy Trinity Parish and the surrounding area.
Sister Margaret Cecilia loved Arizona, and as one Sister said, “She worked lovingly for the people there.” As well as her work in the classroom, she joined other Sisters of Notre Dame who went out to serve the migrant workers on the ranches near Phoenix. Sister Margaret Cecilia tutored and taught religious education. Starting in 1976, she devoted herself full time to the CCD program in the parish. In 1987 Sister Margaret Cecilia “retired” from the parish. Since the parish had other uses for the Most Holy Trinity Convent at that time, she moved into a small apartment. Sister Margaret Cecilia described her ministry from this time forward as a “ministry of prayer,” and for her that meant contemplation in action.
Sister Margaret Cecilia volunteered at a local thrift shop and did tremendous outreach to the poor in the area. This focus was not entirely new. People in need had long known that the ‘church lady’ at Most Holy Trinity could be counted on for food when they were hungry. She collected fresh fruit and other foodstuffs and made them available through the thrift shop as well as clothes and small household items. She concretely lived the words of Matthew 25: For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me…’Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.
All of her religious life Sister Margaret Cecilia was known as being quiet, soft-spoken, always busy and a good worker. She helped keep the house immaculate, loved caring for the dog, lived very simply, and was gracious and welcoming to visitors at Most Holy Trinity. When Sister Margaret Cecilia returned to Mt. Notre Dame after so many years in Arizona, her Sisters were glad to have an opportunity to get to know her again. They found her witty, keen-minded and affable. As one Sister said, “I just love that little Sister!”
In a letter to her Provincial Sister Margaret Cecilia expressed her appreciation for everything the Ohio Province had done for her. The Ohio Province gives thanks to our good God for the faithful service of Sister Margaret Cecilia over the past 71 years, and we rejoice with her as she answers the call of her God, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” (Matthew 25:34)
Born March 4, 1926 in Dayton, Ohio
Parents: William Douglas Wagner (born in Upper Sandusky, Ohio) and
Odelia Tekamp (born in Coldwater, Ohio)
Siblings: William M. Wagner and Ruth Ann Marshall
Baptized March 7, 1926 at Holy Trinity Church, Dayton, Ohio
Confirmed June 7, 1936 at Holy Trinity, Dayton, Ohio
Entered February 6, 1944 at Mt. Notre Dame
First Profession: August 13, 1946
Final Profession: August 13, 1951
Holy Trinity Grade School, Dayton Ohio
Mount Notre Dame High School, Reading, Ohio
Bachelor of Science in Education from the University of Dayton, Dayton, Ohio
1947-1953 Sts Peter and Paul School, Reading, Ohio
1953-1958 St Agnes School, Dayton, Ohio
1958-1960 Holy Family School, Dayton, Ohio
1960-1963 St. Michael School, Sharonville, Ohio
1963-1964 Mount Notre Dame Convent, Reading Ohio
1964-1966 St. Joseph Academy, Columbus, Ohio
1966-1967 St Joseph School, Hamilton, Ohio
1967-1968 St Veronica School, Hamilton
1968-1986 Most Holy Trinity School, Phoenix, Arizona
1987-1997 Volunteer Work, Phoenix, Arizona
1997-2008 Ministry of Prayer, Phoenix, Arizona
2008-2015 Ministry of Prayer, Mount Notre Dame Health Center, Reading, Ohio
Died May 29, 2015 at Mount Notre Dame Health Center, Reading, Ohio
Sr. Kim Dalgarn SNDdeN
May 29, 2015