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Sr. M. Blanda (Stephanie) Mastalerz, 94, died Sept. 19 at Nazarethville in Des Plaines, IL,in the 78th year of her religious life.
While still a young child, Stephanie Mastalerz lost her father in the flu epidemic of 1918-1920. Her widowed mother took in laundry, and some of Stephanie's earliest memories are of her mother singing the Litany of Our Lady as she ironed. When her mother landed a factory job, Stephanie and her younger sister were cared for by their aunt and uncle, the Siedleckis.
Young Stephanie began school at Whittier Public School in Chicago, attending St. Adalbert School for grades 4-7. In fourth grade, a heart condition sent Stephanie to bed for a month, time she spent reading the entire Lives of the Saints. During her convalescence, two CSFNs - Srs. Herminia and Palmira - began visiting her, establishing close connections to the young girl. After graduating from St. Hyacinth School, Stephanie became an aspirant, attending Holy Family Academy in Chicago.
The new Sr. Blanda began her 72-year teaching career in 1935, teaching at St. Blase, Holy Family Academy and Holy Rosary, all in the Archdiocese of Chicago. While at St. Margaret Mary in Neenah, WI, Sr. Blanda organized the Learning Center. Sr. Blanda was known as an excellent teacher with a warm, gentle yet firm manner. Her students excelled, particularly in reading and math. In 1990, she shifted from an active teaching role, becoming an office assistant at St. Ladislaus School, Chicago.
In addition to teaching, Sr. Blanda led several local communities, serving as local superior at St. Blase, St. Margaret Mary and St. Ladislaus convents. Here she was known as a woman of deep prayer, a generous steward and a good listener, always ready to offer support and assistance to the sisters. Her positive outlook on life made her approachable and loved.