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Published: Thursday, 3/13/2014

Sister Mary Christelle Roesner; 1931-2014: Nun was gifted at teaching science


Sister Mary Christelle Roesner, who for nearly 30 years taught science in the Roman Catholic high schools of northwest Ohio, died Tuesday in the Ursuline Center. She was 82.

She had a stroke, but had been ailing in recent years, said Sister Mary Patricia Snyder of the Sisters of Notre Dame.

Sister Mary Christelle’s forte was teaching chemistry and physics.

“She excelled in them,” said Delores Roesner, a sister-in-law. “That was one of her loves, those difficult subjects.”

She found appealing the challenge and truth of science, Sister Patricia said, but also “the mystery of science that leaves all to God, the creator.”

“She was gifted in getting her subject matter across,” Sister Patricia said.

She held firm expectations of students, her sister-in-law said, adding, “When everything was said and done, the students came back and thanked her. They learned, and they learned well. That was her aim.”

Starting in the mid-1960s, she was assigned a succession of diocesan high schools: St. John in Delphos, St. Mary in Sandusky, and St. Wendelin in Fostoria, then Toledo’s Central Catholic High School and Notre Dame Academy.

Before that, she taught at diocesan grade schools, including Immaculate Conception in Bellevue, St. Joseph in Maumee, and Christ the King, St. Mary, and St. Ann in Toledo.

Sister Mary Christelle left classroom teaching in 1993, but for the next 11 years, she tutored high school students in physics and math, traveling to their homes when her health permitted or inviting them to her residence. She also tutored children who were failing academically and came from low-income households in an after-school program at the Historic Church of St. Patrick in downtown Toledo.

“This was the kind of work she loved doing, reaching out to the poor,” Sister Patricia said.

In 2001, Sister Mary Christelle spent six months helping the poor in Papua New Guinea at the Sisters of Notre Dame mission there.

“She always wanted to work as a missionary, and this was her chance to help out,” Sister Patricia said.

Mary Catherine Roesner joined the Sisters of Notre Dame in 1950 and became known as Sister Mary Christelle.

She received a bachelor’s degree in 1961 from the former Mary Manse College. She received a master’s degree in chemistry a decade later from the University of Notre Dame. She also continued her studies at the University of Toledo and Bowling Green State University, her sister-in-law said.

She was the daughter of Frances and Henry Roesner, born in December, 1931, in Toledo, and attended Gesu School. She was a graduate of Notre Dame Academy.

Sister Mary Christelle lived for 12 years at the Notre Dame sisters’ Lial campus near Whitehouse, where flowers she planted graced the entryway.

Surviving are her brothers, Joseph, Paul, and Mark Roesner, and sister, Rita Zita.

Visitation will be from 3 to 8 p.m. today in the Notre Dame Provincial Center on Secor Road. Funeral services will be at 5 p.m. Friday 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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