May They Rest in Peace: Sr. Mary Fidelis Szymkowiak, CSSF

Sr. Mary Fidelis Szymkowiak, CSSF, the former Lucy Szymkowiak, of South Bend, Ind., completed her life’s journey of 99 years on Monday, Dec. 30, 2019, at Presentation Convent of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Livonia, Michigan at 1 a.m. Sister was 80 years in religious life.

Lucy was born into a loving family on January 28, 1920, one of ten children of Michael and Cecilia (Mackowiak): Amelia+, Eve+, Irwin+, Mollie+, Lucy+, Joan, Connie+, Bernice+, Walter+, and Clara+.

Baptized and confirmed at St. Adalbert Church in South Bend, Ind., Lucy attended St. Adalbert Elementary School and in 1935 entered the Seminary of Felician Sisters in Detroit, Michigan, graduating in 1939.

Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated Jan. 2, 2020, in the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Chapel of the Felician Sisters’ Central Convent in Livonia.
Sr. Mary Fidelis Szymkowiak, CSSF

A few weeks after graduation, Lucy was admitted to the postulancy of the Felician Sisters in June of 1939. During the Investiture ceremonies the following year she received the name Sister Mary Fidelis. First profession of vows was in 1941 and final profession in 1947.

Sister Fidelis earned a Baccalaureate degree from Madonna (College) University, Livonia, Michigan and received a Master’s Degree from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan.

On a journey that spanned 59 years in the ministry of education, Sister taught at: Sacred Heart, Corpus Christi, St. Ignatius, St. Christine/Gemma Detroit; St. Joseph, Manistee; Our Lady Queen of Apostles, St. Florian Hamtramck; St. Leonard, Warren; St. Thecla, Mt. Clemens; St. Michael, Livonia; Our Lady of Refuge, Orchard Lake; St. Dunstan,  Garden City; and St. Stanislaus, Bay City.

Sister held the position of principal at St. Damian, Westland and St. Adalbert, South Bend. She was also librarian at St. Christine/Gemma, Detroit.

From 2001 to 2003, Sister was assigned as an Aide at Maryville Retreat Center. In 2003, she was assigned to the Provincial Central House and was assigned duties as well as hospitality.  Sister retired to St. Joseph Convent in 2018 and became a prayer minister.

Sister Mary Fidelis was an excellent teacher and a very organized person. Her staff raved about her. She got along with the parents and her students felt she was very fair and listened to both sides of the story.  One of her pastors had said, “her ability as principal has certainly been proven…the parish is thankful to Sister for her personal dedication as a religious, and as a teacher. She did much to inspire both teachers and pupils to do their best work.” Her special interests included reading, classical music and working with children.

Sister Fidelis once wrote for her 80-year celebration:

“Mysterious are the ways of the Lord! The story of my vocation as a Felician Sister began even before I was born.  I thank God for providing me with 80 long years in which to respond to His generosity and love as a religious.

“In God’s plan, I was the fourth child and the only one that survived into adulthood due to the severe influenza epidemic of 1918.  Thus, as the psalmist proclaimed:  Even before I was born, you knew me and knit me together in my mother’s womb.

“I did not choose Him; He chose me. And from the very beginning I never looked back.  I meditate on these words daily, and I thank and glorify the Lord for this amazing grace.”

As her health started to deteriorate in the middle of December, Sister Fidelis chose to be placed in palliative care. At 1:00 a.m. on December 30, 2019, Sister Mary Fidelis slipped into the Lord’s embrace and journeyed to eternity.

Sister Mary Fidelis is survived by her sister Joan and her brother-in-law, Robert, as well as nieces and nephews.

Morning Praise began at 10:30 a.m. on January 2, 2020. Fr. Gary Tierney, chaplain of the Felician Sisters, celebrated the Mass of Christian Burial at 11:00 a.m. in the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Chapel of the Felician Sisters’ Central Convent in Livonia, Michigan.  Burial was in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, Southfield, Michigan.