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Sister influenced lives of hundreds of students

By Frank Flegel


REGINA — Sister Mary Martin, RNDM, was all smiles surrounded by her community and friends as she celebrated 75 years of service as a member of the Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions.

The July 31 celebration began with a mass celebrated by Msgr. Ken Miller at Santa Maria Seniors Care Home where Martin resides. With assistance from Claire Himbeault, the current RNDM local leader, Martin recited her original final vows taken 75 years ago.

Melvina Hruska, RNDM, delivered a toast in honour of Martin, noting that she worked in education for 56 years and influenced the lives of hundreds of students. “Thank you for all the planting you have done,” she said in reference to the planting of the mustard seed contained in the day’s readings and Miller’s homily.

Martin was born Helen Zywina; her family were members of Regina’s St. Anthony’s Polish community. She entered the novitiate in Sacred Heart College while she was a high school student there.

She took Martin as her religious name when she received her habit on the feast day of St. Martin of Tours. All RNDM sisters’ religious names are preceded by “Mary,” and she became known as Sister Mary Martin. She chose to keep the name following Vatican II when many sisters reverted to their birth names. “Everyone knows me as Sister Mary Martin, so I’m going to keep it,” she was heard to say at the time. However, she is listed in the directory as Sister Mary Martin Zywina.

Martin obtained her teaching certificate from the Normal School in Moose Jaw. She then obtained both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education as well as counselling education in the United States. Her first teaching position was in Lebret, Sask.

Martin will be remembered as a teacher and principal at Marian High School — formerly Sacred Heart College Girls High School where Martin started her journey as a novice. She retired from classroom teaching after 39 years and began tutoring at Regina’s Miller Catholic High School, an activity she continued for another 17 years. She made herself available to students any time they required help, especially in mathematics, which was her specialty.
Donna Ziegler, chair of the Regina Catholic School Board, presented Martin with a framed print by landscape painter Wilf Perreault and thanked her for her many years of teaching and her support of Catholic education.

It was a double celebration for the RNDM community. Following the mass and before the reception, Sisters Hien and Hoi took their one-year temporary vows as members of the community. Both are from Ho Chi Min City, where they entered the novitiate. They came to Canada to study English and expect to take their final vows next year when they return to Vietnam.


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