Catherine Dorothy Romancik was born to Adam and Lottie Stanczyz Romancik in Cleveland, Ohio. Her father had come to America from Slovakia at age 17. He found work in the Pennsylvania coal mines, and then met and married Lottie. They worked hard to provide for their children, proud of their cultural heritage and strong in faith. Catherine had an older brother Raymond, and younger siblings Dolores and Joseph. At Our Lady of Good Counsel School, Catherine mastered the usual academic subjects, and discovered a love for the arts and music. Happy to be accepted at St. Stephen High School, Cleveland, she took on various jobs to cover the cost of tuition, fulfilling every college requirement course plus a business major.
On December 23, 1943, a telegram arrived with the news that Raymond, a Marine, had been killed in action in the Battle of Tarawa. He was 18 years old. Letters followed, posthumously awarding him a silver star, a purple heart, and proclaiming him a hero. Catherine’s autobiography expresses her grief: “Such a hollow, empty word in exchange for a brother. God alone enlightened the sense of loss…” The idea of a religious vocation was something she had considered from time to time. In her junior year, a student retreat and a talk with a trusted teacher led her to accept the calling to become a Sister of Notre Dame, bringing a sense of peace and contentment. She became a postulant on September 8, 1946 and at investment received the name Sister Mary Roy.
Sister Catherine graduated from Notre Dame College, South Euclid with a B.A. in French and history. She earned a Master’s degree from John Carroll University. She taught high school for the next 31 years at Our Lady of Lourdes, St. Boniface, St. Stephen, St. Francis, and St. Peter, all in Cleveland; and at Regina, South Euclid and Elyria Catholic High. She spent five years as a writer for the Light of the World religion textbook series.
From 1987-1993 she served as Pastoral Minister at St. Michael Parish, Canton. In 1993 she began a new ministry in Hospital Chaplaincy, recognizing that “every person is spiritual by nature,” and considering it a privilege to accompany patients and their families in the most vulnerable and sacred moments. At St. Joseph/ Lorain Community Hospitals and Community Health Partners, she served with an interdenominational team of chaplains and coordinated spiritual care volunteers for 14 years. Returning to Chardon in 2008, she was a Pastoral Care volunteer at University Hospitals, Geauga Medical Center. At the provincial center, Sister Catherine devoted many hours to the Prayer Line Ministry, speaking with callers and praying with them.
The Memorial Mass for Sister Mary Catherine will be celebrated on Friday, March 18, at 10:30 a.m., at the Sisters of Notre Dame Center, 13000 Auburn Road, Chardon, OH, 44024. The Mass will be livestreamed.