By Emily Drooby
It was a stroll down memory lane for Sister Mary Anthony Gracyalny and Msgr. Thomas Machalski as they walked through the property that used to house Holy Cross Catholic Academy.
Msgr. Machalski was a student and Sister Mary was his first grade teacher. It was her dream job.
“So in the eighth-grade we had to write a, ‘what do you want to do when you grow up?’ So I said, ‘I would like to be a teacher,’” the sister told Currents News.
Her dreams became a reality and Sister Mary did become a teacher and taught all over the world including 11 years in Peru.
“It’s great, I’ve met a lot of people,” she said. “A lot of kids are still writing to me from Peru.”
It’s not a surprise to Msgr. Machalski that her former students would want to stay in touch with her. He says at his school, she was beloved.
“There was no kindergarten here at Holy Cross at that time,” the monsignor said. “So that was our first experience with school. You know all the trial and trepidation and the crying and all those other things that go along with the trauma of leaving home and going to school, she was always very soothing and calming.”
Throughout the years, they went from teacher and student – to mentor and future priest – to friends. She and the rest of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth always provided support.
“From the first minute that I shared that I heard that call, the sisters were always there,” Msgr. Machalski said. “When I was in the seminary in Michigan, they wrote me cards, they wrote me notes. When I had my first Mass, they were out there in numbers, celebrating with me.”
After all the support he’s received throughout his formative years to becoming a priest, he’s finally able to give back by helping her to celebrate 70 years as a sister. How? Honoring her with a special Mass.
“I’m not sure how many priests have the opportunity to celebrate the Mass for the 70th anniversary of a sister’s religious profession,” Msgr. Machalski said, “and also that sister was their first-grade teacher.”