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Published: Friday, 8/23/2013

Sister Mary Marc Burgard; 1941-2013: Nun continued to teach amid MS struggle

BY MARK ZABORNEY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Sister Mary Marc Burgard, 71, a longtime kindergarten teacher and one of five siblings who taught primary grades and among four who became Sisters of Notre Dame, died Wednesday in the Ursuline Center.

She died from complications of multiple sclerosis, said Sister Mary Patricia Snyder. She learned she had the chronic disease in 1980 but still taught, eventually part time and from a wheelchair.

“She continued until she couldn’t do it anymore,” Sister Mary Patricia said. “She loved what she did.”

Her last assignment was at Lial Elementary School in Whitehouse.

She also taught for years at the former Ladyfield School in West Toledo. The school closed after 75 years in spring, 2005. When a reunion Mass and social were held later to celebrate Ladyfield’s legacy, Sister Mary Marc was one of five honorary chairmen.

Sister Mary Marc earlier taught at Gesu School, St. Joseph and Sacred Heart schools in Fremont, and St. Jude School in Fort Wayne, Ind.

“She was what you would call a brain,” said her brother Dale Burgard, a retired kindergarten teacher in the Bloomfield Hills, Mich., schools. “She could read something, and not only tell you what it said, but in her own words and made you understand what she said.”

Also teaching the youngest of students were her sisters, Sister Mary Ross and Sister Mary Dale, who preceded her in the Notre Dame community, and Sister Mary Kent, who followed. At family gatherings, the five siblings quizzed each other about classroom plans and swapped ideas for art projects.

“She loved the children. She thought they were the minds of the future,” her brother Dale said.

As Sister Mary Marc dealt with her illness, she learned of a group now known as the Catholic Union of the Sick in America, or CUSA. She exchanged emails and letters with others who were ill or had disabilities as they encouraged each other and sought purpose in their conditions.

“She developed a lot of friendships this way,” Sister Mary Patricia said. “She was very instrumental in spreading peace and comfort.”

She was born Annette Martha Burgard on Oct. 4, 1941, the eighth of Ross and Hattie Burgard’s 11 children, and grew up on a farm near Erie. She attended St. Joseph School. Her parents were devout Roman Catholics, and she entered the Notre Dame aspirancy and attended Notre Dame Academy. She was received into the Notre Dame community in 1959, and made her first vows in 1961.

Her sisters “were so happy with where they were and what they were doing, she felt the call to serve the church like they did,” Sister Mary Patricia said.

She received a bachelor’s degree from the former Mary Manse College and a master’s of education degree from Xavier University in Cincinnati. She also studied at the Montessori Teacher Training Center in Chicago.

Surviving are her brothers, David, Daniel, and Dale Burgard; and sisters, Madeline Ausmus, Florence Hilkens, Susan Darmofal, Sister Mary Ross, Sister Mary Dale Burgard, and Sister Mary Kent Burgard.

Visitation will be from 2 to 8 p.m. today in the Toledo Provincial Center of the Sisters of Notre Dame. Services will be at 10:30 a.m. Saturday in the provincial center chapel. Arrangements are by the Urbanski Funeral Home.

Tributes are suggested to the Sisters of Notre Dame.

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



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