Sister Margaret Schafer
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000632-02: Memorial

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04 April 1988

Memorial for Margaret Schafer [01752]. (Page 2 of 2)

Source: Sister Margaret Schafer, OP, Memorial Notes; (Grand Rapids, Kent, Michigan: Dominican Chapel/Marywood, 4 April 1988).

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church life. The Dominican Sisters who staffed the parish school became her dear was Sister Timothy Wiesler, Margaret's music teacher. Closeness to her and the other Dominicans teaching at St. Philomena's (later renamed St. Joseph the Worker) heighted her desire for religious life.

When Margaret did leave for Grand Rapids and convent life, it was Sister Timothy who accompanied her. Boarding the train at Vestaburg for the journey to Marywood, they were joined by two other Beal City Schafers: Leona (S. John Baptist) and Mary (S. Marie Alexander). Six months later the trio was part of the March 1930 class to receive the Dominican habit from Mother Eveline Mackey. It was then that Margaret was given the name by which she was known until the early days of Vatican II renewal: Sister Samuel of the Child Jesus.

Her life both as a neophyte religious and later as a dedicated educator bespoke a woman constantly attuned to God's will. Indeed her lifelong prayer might well have been that of the Old Testament Samuel whose namesake she was: “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” She listened well and found that God spoke to her very clearly through the events and challenges of everyday life.

Challenges were plentiful during Sister's forty-six years in elementary education. A multi-talented person, she was given multiple responsibilities and taught multiple grades at Visitation in North Dorr, Our Lady of Sorrows in Grand Rapids, St. Mary's in St. Charles and Our Lady of the Lake in Prudenville. She was a school administrator for twenty-four years, serving as principal (and teacher too) when St. Basil's in South Haven and Immaculate Heart in Grand Rapids opened. Her musical abilities enabled her oftentimes to serve as organist, choir leader, glee club director and liturgist.

Needless to say, Sister Margaret was truly a “giving” person not only in her professional life but in living the common life as well. She was a thoughtful person, eager to be helpful whenever possible. God was her power source, thus her energies seemed boundless. In 1970, however, Sister Margaret became ill; the diagnosis: Parkinson's disease. But she saw God's will in that reality and continued being her generous, hard-working self. Completing a decade as St. Joseph School's principal in West Branch, Sister Margaret left the ministry of education and came to Aquinata Hall.

During her first years there she did clerical work to assist the Administrator. Eventually the effects of Sister's illness necessitated that she give up this work and embrace more fully the ministries of suffering and prayer. Again she relied on God's strength to be her support and comfort. Recorded in her autobiography are these words: “One thing I know is that I shall strive to become ever more appreciative of God's great gifts to me in the remaining years of my life; to realize more and more God's great love for me so that when He shall call me, He may find my soul in the state in which He had destined it from all eternity.”

Living her final years in this manner Sister Margaret was for us what the people of West Branch had previously acclaimed her to be: Channel of Blessing. At the moment of death God found her, we are certain, silently saying the Samuel statement for one, last time: “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.” And God gave answer in eternal words.

Sister Margaret is survived by her stepmother, Mrs. Louise Schafer of Weidman; her sisters: Mrs. Orielda Farner, Mrs. Beatrice Sheahan, Mrs. Evelyn Malish of Mt. Pleasant; Mrs. Betty Sunderman of Shepherd; her brothers: Norman of Shep­herd; Francis and Everett of Weidman; and Kenneth, Donald and James of Mt. Pleasant.

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Revised: January 02, 2018

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