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Published: Monday, 7/9/2007

Nun loved work as teacher, was 'real Franciscan'

Sister M. Inez Tabaka, Sisters of St. Francis, Sylvania, who taught for nearly 33 years, died of cancer Thursday in the Rosary Care Center, Sylvania. She was 85.

Sister Inez joined the Sisters of St. Francis when she was 15 years old. She came to Ohio from Minneapolis with her good friend Sister Rosaria Petra. The two met in grade school and decided to join the convent together as sophomores in high school.

Sister Inez was very proud of her sisterhood and loved her work.

"She was a real Franciscan," Sister Rosaria said. "She really lived the life she professed."

Sister Inez received a bachelor's degree in education and social science from the former Mary Manse College in Toledo and her master's degree in Spanish from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.

She began her teaching career in Toledo at St. Hyacinth School, and also taught at St. Peter School in Huron, Ohio; Cardinal Stritch High School in Oregon, and St. Clare Academy in Sylvania.

She also taught at schools in Michigan, Minnesota, and Missouri.

"She was a marvelous teacher," Sister Rosaria said. "She was just good at what she did."

Sister Inez served as an associate minister in parishes in Minnesota, Michigan, Maryland, and Texas.

While serving as the associate minister at Our Lady of Perpetual Help parish in Maryland, Sister Inez developed a health awareness program at the church.

Doctors and nurses within the parish held informational sessions on a variety of health-related topics for other parishioners.

Sister Inez was a Spanish language resource assistant at St. Joseph Regional Health Center in Bryan, Texas.

She accompanied doctors on their trips to Guatemala and served as a translator between doctors and their patients, Sister Rosaria said.

"She could speak Spanish almost as well as English," Sister Rosaria said. "Some people just have a way of speaking languages, and she did."

Sister Inez was an artistic person who knitted, crocheted, and made bed comforters in her spare time.

In 2005, when she returned to the Rosary Care Center, a retirement home for senior Sisters of St. Francis, Sister Inez became known as the "party girl."

Every month, she would decorate her floor and give small gifts to other sisters in observance of holidays like the Fourth of July and Valentine's Day, Sister Rosaria said.

"She was known for trying to make it a happy place for people to live in," she said. "They loved her for that."

Surviving are her sisters, Catherine Mack and Caroline Rominski..

A welcoming service will be held at the Motherhouse of the Sisters of St. Francis, Sylvania, at 6 p.m. today. Visitation at Madonna Hall will be available today until 8 p.m. and tomorrow from 9 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. The funeral is at 4:30 p.m. tomorrow at Queen of Peace Chapel, Sylvania.

Tributes may be made to the Sisters of St. Francis, Sylvania.

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