Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
November 23, 2009
Sr. Margaret Benedek known for her kindness, hard work
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
EDMONTON - She was a caring and conscientious religious woman who loved God and his people.
That's how Sister Margaret Benedek will be remembered by some who knew and worked with her.
Benedek died of unknown causes at Youville Home in St. Albert Nov. 9. She was 78.
Through her 61 years as a member of the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity, Benedek served in many capacities, including as childcare worker and pastoral assistant. For many years she also made altar bread for parishes in the Edmonton Archdiocese.
Born March 23, 1931 in Olds, Benedek joined the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity in 1948, probably after meeting the sisters during one of their soliciting rounds.
In the early days, the OLC sisters didn't have much money and so they went around soliciting money to pay the bills, recalled Sister Norma Johnson, who knew Benedek for more than 50 years.
CARED FOR CHILDREN
Benedek made her final vows in 1954 and from then on she looked after the needs of little children at the former Good Shepherd Home on the grounds of the Catholic Pastoral Centre.
"She was a very good person. She worked hard for the children and was very proud of her (Hungarian) cultural heritage," said Johnson from her home in Carrollton, Ohio.
"She was very generous and very kind. I will remember her as a very kind and loving sister. She loved to have fun and she liked to tease and liked to watch television."
With Benedek's death, the OLC sisters only have two members left in Canada, both in Edmonton. The OLC congregation is an international order with members throughout the world.
In the early 1990s, Benedek became pastoral assistant at St. Emeric Hungarian Parish, working under Salesian Father Jozsef Hamor.
"I knew sister for at least 25 years; she was terrific. She helped quite a bit in our parish as pastoral assistant," said Elvira Barabash, chair of St. Emeric's pastoral council and head of the parish's Ladies' Association.
When Hamor retired, Benedek took over the administration of the parish, running the office and answering the phones, Barabash said. "She was an integral part of our parish for at least a good 10 years."
After Hamor died, the Canadian Salesians took over St. Emeric Parish and Benedek stayed to help.
"She did everything that needed to be done in the church, preparing things for the sacraments and she was there at Sunday Mass," recalled Barabash.
"She understood and, yes, she was able to speak Hungarian - not fluently, but we always helped her along."
Benedek always remembered Christmas and birthdays.
When Benedek didn't go to Olds to celebrate Christmas with her family, she would celebrate at the Barabash home.
Benedek "would give birthday cards to anybody who was close to her," continued Barabash. "She had very pretty handwriting and she loved to write notes and cards and letters."
When the OLC sisters closed their convent, she handed over "quite a number of items" to St. Emeric, from candelabrums to dishes. "She wanted to preserve these things and she knew that we would use them and take care of them."
Benedek helped at St. Emeric even before she became pastoral assistant. At Hamor's request, she visited the sick and the elderly of the parish in every nursing home, recalled former parishioner Eva Fekete, who now attends St. John Bosco.
"She was the most wonderful, peaceful lady," Fekete recalled. "She made people feel better with her presence alone. She was very much what God wants us to be."
About 80 people attended Benedek's funeral Mass at St. Emeric's Church Nov. 13. She was buried at Holy Cross Cemetery on Mark Messier Trail.
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