Sister Mary Magdalene Wagner, CSJ, 91, died Sunday, October 28, 2018, in the 74th year of her religious life as a Sister of St. Joseph. The daughter of the late John P. and Sarah M. Schmadel Wagner, Sister Mary Magdalene entered the Congregation from St. Patrick Parish in Johnstown, PA.
For 46 years, Sister Mary Magdalene served as a teacher and principal in the Dioceses of Altoona-Johnstown, Greensburg and Pittsburgh, and the Archdioceses of Miami and Atlanta. Her longest education ministry was at St. Patrick in Johnstown where she served as principal from 1989-1997 following four years of teaching. She previously was co-principal at West End Catholic School in Johnstown from 1971-78. Her early ministry sites included St. Raphael in Pittsburgh, Holy Rosary in Perrine, FL, Our Lady of Victory in State College, PA, and St. Paul of the Cross in Atlanta, GA.
Sister Mary Magdalene was known as an excellent educator, who modeled gentleness and compassion in the classroom. In a newspaper column in 1999, a former student who was taught catechism by Sister Mary Magdalene described her as “the sweetest, kindest, most understanding woman who surely had a halo up there underneath her habit.”
These characteristics served Sister Magdalene well as a companion and caregiver in Florida and, later, as a driver who accompanied Sisters to their medical appointments. Faithful to this ministry, Sister Mary Magdalene was sensitive to the Sisters’ privacy, yet comforting to their concerns. Ever the optimist, Sister Mary Magdalene extended kindness to anyone who needed help.
A skilled seamstress, she graciously accepted requests for mending or altering garments. In 2006, she was encouraged to submit hand-sewn dresses to a county fair competition, and she garnered two first-place awards. One of her favorite pastimes was cross-stitching, which became beautiful framed gifts for friends and family. A prayerful, humble woman, Sister Mary Magdalene had a great devotion to St. Theresa of the Little Flower and St. Mary Magdalene, her namesake.
Sister Mary Magdalene is survived by nieces and nephews, great nieces and nephews, great-great nieces and nephews and cousins, the Associates, and the Sisters of St. Joseph. Friends will be received Thursday, November 1 from 1 p.m. to the close of the Prayer Vigil and Friday, November 2 from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Motherhouse of the Sisters of St. Joseph. Prayer Vigil will be Thursday, November 1 at 6 p.m. at the Motherhouse. Mass of Christian Burial will be offered Friday, November 2 at 3 p.m. Burial will follow in the Sisters’ Cemetery on the Motherhouse grounds. Donations in the name of Sister Mary Magdalene may be sent to the Sisters of St. Joseph Memorial Fund, Development Office, 1020 State St., Baden, PA, 15005.