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Published: Friday, 3/16/2012

Sister Mary Alma Schlagheck, 1916-2012: Mercy nun of nearly 80 years directed home ec at McAuley

BY MARK ZABORNEY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

FREMONT -- Sister Mary Alma Schlagheck, a Sister of Mercy for nearly 80 years who taught across northwest Ohio and was director of home economics for nearly 30 years at the former McAuley High School in Toledo, died Wednesday in St. Bernardine Home, Fremont, where she lived in recent years. She was 95.

She was largely bed-bound the last three years after she suffered compression fractures in her back, said Sister Kathleen Noonan of the St. Bernardine Home.

She was in failing health, yet her 80th anniversary as a Sister of Mercy was commemorated -- seven months early -- on Feb. 29.

"We took her whole bed in chapel," Sister Kathleen said. "She lit up like a Christmas tree. She was so thrilled."

When visitors and other residents asked that she keep them in her prayers, she replied, " 'Oh, yes, dear,' " Sister Kathleen said. "She was willing to spend a lot of time praying. That was big on her list.

"She saw her ministry in bed was her ministry in prayer she was offering to the community."

Sister Alma retired in 1988 at the closing of the school to which she was assigned the longest, the all-girls' McAuley on the Anthony Wayne Trail. She was assigned to McAuley as the school opened in 1958. For the first year or two, she was furthering her own education in home economics at St. Louis University, from which she received a master's degree, Sister Kathleen said.

"A lot of people came back to see her. She was well remembered," Sister Kathleen said. "She really was in love with children and anything to help them advance."

Earlier, she taught elementary grades at St. Peter School, Upper Sandusky; St. Catherine, St. Vincent de Paul, and St. Clement schools in Toledo; St. Mary School, Kirby, Ohio, and St. Mary School, Mansfield, Ohio.

At some of the schools, she taught music; at some she taught and served as principal. At St. Mary in Kirby, she even played organ for the parish at Mass.

She was born Elizabeth Alma Schlagheck on Dec. 31, 1916, in Toledo to Francis and Catherine Schlagheck. The family lived near St. Vincent de Paul, where she caught her first glimpse of a Sister of Mercy. Years later, she said she thought then, " 'That's what I'm going to be,' " Sister Kathleen said.

She went to high school at Notre Dame Academy and Our Lady of the Pines in Fremont.

She entered the Sisters of Mercy on Sept. 24, 1932. She made her final profession of vows Aug. 16, 1938.

Her commitment was obvious decades later.

"I saw a woman who was deeply in love with Jesus, and it was so obvious," Sister Kathleen said. "She knew that's what she wanted to do.

"I think she listened to the Lord from a child on up. She was very in touch. She was very responsible."

She received a bachelor's degree from the former Mary Manse College in Toledo.

Her sister is a Sister of Mercy, and in retirement, Sister Alma and Sister Rosemary, 92, lived at Our Lady of the Pines, by then a retreat center, and St. Bernardine.

Surviving is her sister, Sister Rosemary Schlagheck, a member of the Mercy community since 1938.

Services will be at 11 a.m. Saturday in the St. Bernardine Home, Fremont, where visitation will be from 3-7 p.m. Friday and from 9-10:30 a.m. Saturday.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: mzaborney@theblade.com or 419-724-6182.



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