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Sister Mary Tyburcia Szymczak, attended college with pope
Aug. 11, 1914 -- July 2, 2007

A Mass of Christian Burial for Sister Mary Tyburcia Szymczak, a Felician nun and educator who studied in college with Pope John Paul II, will be offered 10 a.m. Friday in Villa Maria Felician Sisters Health and Wellness Center Chapel, 600 Doat St., Cheektowaga.

Sister Mary Tyburcia died Tuesday in Villa Maria Felician Sisters Health and Wellness Center, where she had lived for three years. She was 92.

Born Susanna Szymczak in Erie, Pa., she entered the Immaculate Heart of Mary Province of the Felician Sisters in 1932 and professed perpetual vows in 1940. Sister Mary Tyburcia was a member of St. Hedwig Parish in Erie and graduated from the Immaculate Heart of Mary Academy in Buffalo.

Sister Mary Tyburcia studied at the former Mount St. Joseph Teachers College, now Medaille College. She went on to teach at St. Florian School in the city's Riverside neighborhood and at St. Stanislaus Kostka School in Binghamton.

From 1937 to 1940, Sister Mary Tyburcia attended Jagellonian University in Krakow, Poland, where she studied with Karol Wojtyla, who became Pope John Paul II. Sister Mary never completed her studies in Poland because of the outbreak of World War II, which forced her to return to the United States.

Sister Mary Tyburcia was engaged in mission work at the Holy Name of Mary Vice Province in Mississauga, Ont., for 30 years. She also served at St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish Mission in Toronto as a teacher and social worker for many years. There, she was also the vice provincial treasurer and vice provincial novice director. From 1966 to 1971, she was the vice provincial minister in the Holy Name of Mary Province.

She returned to Buffalo and the Immaculate Heart of Mary Provincial House in 1971. In addition to serving as a receptionist, she was the local minister at Villa Maria Infirmary and a staff member for the publication of the booklet "Ave Maria." She also worked in the convent office.

Sister Mary Tyburcia was director of the Felician Sisters' Heritage Room from 1986 to 2004. She was fluent in Polish and served as a translator for 16 years, translating the Catholic Charities Appeal prayer in the Diocese of Buffalo and several historical books from Polish into English. She also shared many historical stories for an archival oral history.

Survivors include two sisters, Helen Dubowski and Sister Teresa Marie Patora.


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