Looking back on 46 years as a teacher, Sister Nancy (Lisa Marie) Wolf feels blessed, loved and full of gratitude. Not everyone is able to live out their childhood dreams of being a Sister and teaching God’s little ones.
“I did what I loved all those years, and I love teaching,” said Sister Nancy, who retired from Immaculate Conception School in Celina at the end of last school year. “That was part of my life, teaching little children to see God’s little miracles all around them.”
Sister Nancy spent 30 years as a teacher at Immaculate Conception, the last 27 teaching kindergarten. The Wapakoneta native realized in second grade that she wanted to be a teacher. Teaching was like “catching a star and letting it lead one to the future with new possibilities and explorations.” She said, “Each day as I saw the children grow in wisdom, age and grace I knew that I was a part of many tiny miracles and blessings. Helping the little ones to learn and listening to them as they interacted with each other was always a new blessing for me.” For all of this she thanks God.
Her room at Immaculate Conception was a non-stop buzz of activity as she moved from one subject to another while keeping the kids engaged. She previously taught in Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, Dayton and Arizona.
“Every day was different with the little ones,” she said. “Children are so dependent on you and will do anything for you. We worked hard, but we also played. We had a fun environment. My goal was to make it a fun place to be because that’s when learning happens.”
She will miss her students and the satisfaction of helping them develop their relationship with God. At the end of each day she would ask them to talk to God and enjoyed their little prayers about the day and what was on their minds. God must have smiled as he heard all of them talking to Him at one time on some days.
“Those, to me, were blessing moments,” Sister Nancy said. “You know you did the right thing and were leading them in the right direction.”
Immaculate Conception is a close-knit school with teachers who have been together for many years. Sister Nancy said she will miss them and the parents who make the school tick. Volunteers often helped Sister Nancy and became friends.
“Sister Nancy has been a wonderful inspiration to everyone,” said Immaculate Conception principal Polly Muhlenkamp. “The way she lived out her vocation and her job of being with the children is a great inspiration. She brings an obvious commitment to living out the Gospel.”
The parish recognized Sister Nancy during an Aug. 4 Mass. Twenty seven Precious Blood Sisters attended, along with the students from her final kindergarten class, family, relatives and friends. The students carried in flowers at the presentation of gifts and sang a special song to her after communion.
In his homily, Missionary of the Precious Blood Father Kenneth Schnipke, pastor of Immaculate Conception, wove stories of Sister Nancy’s tenure at the parish into his homily.
“Most of the treasures Sister Nancy received throughout the years have come in small packages, the little ones she taught for so many years,” Father Schnipke said. “Sister Nancy was also taught by the children – bringing her back to what is truly important each day, our blessings and love of a God who fills us with His life and love. The children remind us each day of something very important – who we are.”
After the homily Sister Nancy and all the Sisters renewed their vows. The congregation extended their hands and Father Schnipke prayed a blessing prayer for Sister Nancy. Then a plaque was presented to Sisters Nancy and Joyce Lehman, President of the Sisters of the Precious Blood, commemorating the Sisters’ 132 years of service to the school.
Sister Nancy has no immediate plans. She is taking a sabbatical and moving to Dayton. Still, part of her will remain in Celina in the generations of students she taught.
“She’s touched so many lives through the school and through the other ministries she has done,” Muhlenkamp said. “She’s a person who is filled with the joy that only comes from knowing God.”
Story by Dave Eck