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A native of Worcester, MA, Lydia Burak knew in grammar school that she might have a vocation to the religious life. Her family was active in their parishes in Worcester and then Millbury, where the children attended St. Mary School. Her parents had relocated to Millbury, a picturesque town north of Worcester where they settled in a house on a small farm. The children were delighted with pets and farm animals, the vegetable garden and even their chores on the farm.
Lydia grew up in a turbulent time in the world: Word War I, the Depression, threat of a new war in Europe. She was an infant when the Marian apparitions at Fatima occurred and she was a toddler when Benedict XV was pope. WWI and its consequences were the focus of his papacy and the Woodrow Wilson presidency. The oldest of six children, she shared her avid love of history with her siblings when playing school with them.
At St. Mary School, Lydia enjoyed her studies and her teachers, the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth. She wanted to become a sister, and shared her desire with her parents, who permitted her to attend Nazareth Academy High School in Philadelphia. She became a postulant while a student, and entered the novitiate in 1932, receiving the name ‘Sr. Romuald.’ She professed her first vows in 1934, and then embarked on her teaching career. Her first teaching assignment was at Holy Trinity School in Utica, NY. She earned her education degree from Villanova University. She was teaching at St. Joseph School in Norwich, CT, when she professed her perpetual vows. She enjoyed teaching and living in New England, but gladly accepted assignments across the country, serving at schools in Bridesburg, Port Richmond and southwest Philadelphia, PA; Miami and Plantation, FL, and Baltimore. While teaching in Baltimore, she broke her hip in a fall. Recovery was slow. She returned to Philadelphia in 1974, teaching at Our Lady of Calvary School. When she retired, she continued to tutor children at the school.
In 1998, Sr. Romuald ‘fully retired,’ leaving Our Lady of Calvary and moving to Mt. Nazareth. She enjoyed visiting with her fellow residents, reading, nurturing her artistic talents, playing Scrabble and other word puzzles. Her health continued to decline, and she died quietly the morning of June 22.