Having been taught by the Sisters of Notre Dame for 12 years, it was not surprising that young Margaret Lederer entertained the idea of becoming a Sister herself. And certainly Sisters like Marie Veronica Wagner helped sway Margaret’s decision. It wasn’t anything particular that Sr. Marie Veronica said, but her very person. “Sister was a very simple, very holy person. An authentic person. I connected with that,” Margaret remembers.
After completing her bachelor’s degree in music and English at the College of Notre Dame, Sr. Margaret (Joseph Louise) began teaching 4th graders at Notre Dame Elementary School in San Francisco. Shortly after the Watts Riots in 1965 she was assigned to Mother of Sorrows School in Los Angeles located in a then predominantly black area. “I didn’t worry about it [racial tension], I just went where I was assigned and it turned out to be a wonderful experience. I loved the people and the culture.”
An assignment to St. Mark’s School in Seattle in 1974 brought her to Washington State where she taught and served as prinicipal at a variety of parish schools for the next 26 years. At St. Rose in Longview, Sr. Margaret remembers replacing a much-loved principal who had to step down due to health problems. What could have been a difficult situation was anything but. “The teachers, children and families were so warm and welcoming. I loved being there.”
Recently, Sr. Margaret brought her long-time teaching experience (nearly 40 years!) to a position suggested to her by a friend. An animal lover all her life, Sr. Margaret loves her educational outreach and public relations work at the Humane Society. In this position she works with two very different spectrums of society. She visits preschools to teach animal safety and respect and on other days she visits nursing homes to bring, well, love, and she doesn’t go alone. She brings her faithful four-legged friend Angel. “When I walk in to a nursing home with Angel, everyone says ‘Oh look…it’s Angel’ and all the faces light up.”
A former co-worker from St. Mark’s School in Seattle and a life-long friend, Diane Howe shares, “Sister is a remarkable woman with an enormous capacity to love. From that love springs all of her other wonderful gifts: her kindness and generosity; her dedication to her work; her patience and understanding. Margaret is a living manifestation of God’s presence among us.”
Looking back on over 50 years as a Sister, Margaret is grateful for all the people who have been part of her life and helped her on her journey as a person and a Sister of Notre Dame.