Sr. Mary Hagerty

Sr. M. St. Oliva

Born::  Annaheim, Saskatchewan, 4/4/1915
Postulancy::Regina, Saskatchewan, 14/8/1932
Novitiate:: Regina, Saskatchewan, 16/2/1933
1st Profession:: Regina, Saskatchewan, 17/2/1935
Final Vows::Regina, Saskatchewan, 17/2/1941
Died:: Regina, Saskatchewan, 4/4/2012

Sister Mary was the second of five children born to her parents, Walter and Ellen (Gillespie) Hagerty.  Mary's parents, of Irish descent, were fervent Catholics, fitting well into a community where many families were of German descent and equally religious background.  Within a few years of each other this parish gave three young women to religious life with the Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions - Frances and Margaret Dauk, (Mary St. Verda and M. Mathilde), and Mary Hagerty (M. St. Oliva).

With her brothers Walter and Tom and their sister Catherine (Dauk) Mary grew up on a farm and became an avid gardener as well as a skilled seamstress and cook.  Mary remained close to all her family, exchanging visits with them whenever possible.  Nieces and nephews tell us of the strong influence she had on their lives, always loving, wise, humorous, and offering comfort in times of difficulty.  As one niece wrote, "Words cannot express the impact she has had on my faith, my appreciation for her years of prayers for our family and the beauty of her homemade gifts sewn with love."  In order to obtain all the education available Mary for a time sought a position as a general fac totum while attending high school in the town.  

At the age of seventeen Mary came to Regina to enter religious life where she completed her secondary education and, soon after profession, took her "teacher training" to enter the wonderful world of education!  Multi-tasking was to be a pattern Mary followed throughout her life.  She taught for an uninterrupted forty-five years, thirty five in Saskatchewan and ten in Manitoba, being principal of multi-grade schools for twenty-five years.  Sister was determined to be appropriately qualified for all these responsibilities.  By correspondence courses and university summer classes and night school she earned first a Bachelor of Arts Degree and then Bachelor and Masters Degrees in education.

For "Sister Oliva" there was always much more to education than book learning.  Always there was involvement with religious and extra-curricular activities.  She conducted school and parish choirs, organized choral festivals, drama and public speaking competitions, sports events.  As staff advisor for an active Red Cross Club she encouraged students to assist at blood donor clinics, to volunteer in local Senior Citizens' Homes and the Rehabilitation Centre, to assist in swimming programs for cognitively challenged children.  

At the age of 66, Mary officially retired from the world of formal education and again followed courses to prepare her for another seven years in a school for emotionally disturbed youth.  Despite what may sound like a frenzy of activity, students and teachers have their most distinct memories of Sister as a person of wisdom, good humour and compassion.  Young  teachers coming on staff could be assured of a listening ear and some gentle advice.   Everyone profited from her strong sense of justice and clear vision in separating important from peripheral.  

When finally retired from formal teaching, Mary continued her long held-responsibilities as community bursar and began a new ministry to the sick and infirm.  A cognitively-challenged woman who had been under the Sisters' care for some 40 years received Mary's special attention.  Our own Sister Ida Riehl, confined for many years to a nearby hospital because of her multiple sclerosis, enjoyed Mary's almost daily visits which not only enabled her to pray vespers but also assured her of being well-clothed and kept abreast of community matters.  Mrs. Halpin, sister of our two Sister M. Lucille and M. Majella Gervais and mother of Archbishop Charles Halpin, was assured of care and company when her son was away from the city.

In 1988, after a car accident, Sister Mary moved to the Sisters' Residence at Santa Maria Home in Regina and eventually, in 2005, now 90 years of age, went into nursing care.  Even there Mary was "mother to everyone", as one of the nurses put it, consoling the lonely, holding the hand of the restless, reassuring the fearful and herself grateful for every attention.  Nursing and housekeeping staff loved her dearly and the Sisters from the Residence did their best to accompany her through the pain of memory and mobility loss.  

Death came early in the morning of her 97th birthday.  Sister's funeral was held in the chapel at Santa Maria, con-celebrated by dear friends from her days at Miller High School, Very Rev. Lorne Crozon, former student, and Rev. Msgr. Kenneth Miller, former fellow teacher and spiritual advisor, and attended by numerous family and friends.  The final hymn at her graveside was an Easter Regina Coeli.  May she rest in the peace of the Resurrection.

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