2015 Jubilarian – Mary (Coronata) Laubacher
The oldest of eight children raised in a faith-filled Catholic family, Sister Mary Laubacher grew up in Canton, Ohio. Her mother was an accomplished pianist and seamstress before marrying her father, a bookkeeper.
In Canton, Sister Mary met the IHM Sisters when she attended St. John the Baptist High School. Their excellent teaching and genuine happiness impressed her. She felt a calling to a vocation “too deep for words,” as she watched the sisters. She joined the community right after high school graduation.
Sister Mary taught elementary school for 13 years and then taught high school before being assigned as principal at Sacred Heart, Roseville, Mich. She felt overwhelmed by the prospect, but Mother Teresa McGivney told her, “Well, you got your master’s degree yesterday!” She understood the vow of obedience, so one day after she completed her master’s degree, she became a principal.
After six years she became principal at St. Stephen High and Grade Schools in Port Huron, Mich. From there she taught in the teacher education department at Marygrove College and then became department chair. At the same time, she completed her doctorate in administration and supervision from Wayne State University and began a summer program to help sisters from various congregations, who were newly appointed school principals, learn how to be principals.
After leaving Marygrove, Sister Mary lived with St. Joseph Sisters in Lansing and was the assistant superintendent of Catholic schools, overseeing 32 elementary schools and five high schools, and then ministered as librarian for Marian High School in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., for two years.
“I was 65 years old when then-IHM President Carol Quigley asked me to be the principal of St. Mary Academy,” Sister Mary says. “I didn’t think I could, so I said ‘no.’ Sister Carol told me to pray about it and asked me the next week. I still said ‘no.’ She told me to pray some more. I remembered my vow of obedience and, when she asked the week after that, I accepted.”
After three years at the Academy, Sister Mary was given a year of renewal at Gonzaga University in its CREDO program, making a pilgrimage to Greece, Israel and Rome before returning to the IHM Motherhouse.
For the next 16 years, Sister Mary served as the congregation’s part-time education secretary, and ministered as director of the congregational library for 11 of those years. Currently, she reads to a sister with vision problems and corresponds with 10 men on death row in Raleigh, N.C.
Sister Mary’s life has been graced in many ways. Her sister Jean and cousin Carola Keffler, also IHMs, have been gifts, as well as many co-workers and the nursing staff. Her greatest joys have been “knowing that other sisters were in the same mission that I was in: teaching.” She says she is most grateful for “God’s direction in my life and the many opportunities for growing in spirituality.”