Sister Mary Martin was all smiles surrounded by her RNDM community and friends as she celebrated 75 years of service as a member of the Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions; RNDM is the French acronym for the Order.
The July 31 celebration began with a mass celebrated by Monsignor Ken Miller at Santa Maria Seniors Care Home where she resides. With assistance from Claire Himbeault, RNDM current local Leader, Sister Mary Martin recited her original final vows taken 75 years ago.
Melvina Hruska RNDM, delivered a toast in honour of Sister 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 liturgy readings and Monsignor Miller’s homily.
Sister Mary Martin was born Helen Zywina, her family were members of Regina’s St. Anthony’s Polish community. She entered the novitiate in Regina’s Sacred Heart College, formerly located on Albert Street south, while she was a high school student there. She took the Name Martin as her religious name when she received her Habit on the feast day of St. Martin of Tours. All RNDM Sisters’ religious names were preceded with ‘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,” one of the Sisters remembering her saying at the time. However, she is listed in the directory as Sister Mary Martin Zywina.
Sister Mary Martin obtained her teaching certificate from Normal School which was located in Moose Jaw at the time. She then obtained both Bachelor and Master’s Degrees in Education as well as counselling education in the United States. Her first teaching position was in Lebret, Saskatchewan. Sister Martin will be well remembered as a teacher and principal at Marian High School which was formerly the Sacred Heart College Girls High School where Sister Martin started her journey as a novitiate. 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. It was known that she made herself available to students any time they required help, especially in Mathematics, her specialty.
Donna Ziegler, Chair of the Regina Catholic School Board, presented Sister Mary Martin with a Wilf Perreault framed print 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 vow as members of the RNDM community. Both are from Ho Chi Min City, Vietnam, where they entered the novitiate about five years ago. They came to Canada to study English and took their one-year temporary vows expecting to take their final vows next year when they return to Vietnam.