Even as a young girl, Sister Marie Ensslin, SDS enjoyed sharing her creative gifts. She liked to sing along as her father played the concertina, and later she performed in her grade school orchestra, playing the accordion or violin. As a high school student, Sr. Marie returned to her grade school to visit her former music teacher. Before even mentioning she was discerning a religious vocation, her teacher asked, “Which is it—School Sisters of Notre Dame or Sisters of the Divine Savior?” The Salvatorian Sisters at her high school inspired Sr. Marie with their dedication and wholesomeness, and she was drawn to enter the community in 1951 after her junior year.
Sr. Marie loved teaching math. She earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Milwaukee’s Alverno College and later, a master’s degree in math from Saint Louis University. Over the years, she taught math to junior high students and all subjects in grade schools. At Mary Queen of Heaven in West Allis, Wis., Sr. Marie taught computer classes in the first through eighth grades. Her creative teaching style helped make learning fun and accessible. She encouraged expressive outlets for her young students by introducing an extra-curricular rhythm band and a square dance program.
Sr. Marie credits her students’ imaginations and aspirations as her source of inspiration. She laughs as she recalls a third-grade student named Larry who dreamed of becoming a pro basketball player to raise money for his missionary work as a priest. He asked her, “Do you think I’ll make it to Pope?”
Sr. Marie expresses deep appreciation for the positive example and support of her teaching colleagues and her Salvatorian family. In 2014 she celebrated 60 years of vowed religious life, and while retired from active ministry, she still draws on her gift of creativity. She handcrafts greeting cards and handwrites notes of gratitude to our many friends who share their gifts to support our mission. She also reflects on her teaching ministry, and how she helped shape the minds of students who passed through her classroom doors. But even the mind of a mathematician can’t calculate the fruits of so many years of service. Sr. Marie muses, “We often create more than we realize.”
You can extend a loving hand to Sr. Marie and all our sisters who depend on us for their care with your gift for the SDS Retirement Fund.