Sister Merita Strahler SND; September 24, 1926-July 10, 2021
Sister Merita Strahler, SND
(September 24, 1926-July 10, 2021)
Loretta Mary Strahler was born in Suffield, Ohio, the fourth of seven children of Raymond and Stella Oakes Strahler.
With three older brothers and later, three younger sisters, Loretta described her childhood as “very happy,” as she played, learned, and shared the work of the family’s large farm in Randolph, Ohio. By eighth grade, she had prayed about her desire to be closer to God and to serve others in religious life. She enrolled at Notre Dame Academy, Cleveland, as an aspirant, and entered the novitiate as a postulant on February 2, 1945. Her sister Dorothy (Sister Mary Doreen, SND) also became a Sister of Notre Dame, and the youngest, Edna (Sister Sylvia, MMS) is a Medical Mission Sister who spent many years in Pakistan.
Sister Merita was professed on August 16, 1947, and began her ministry of teaching in 1950 at St. Benedict School, Cleveland. She earned a bachelor’s degree in education from St. John College, Cleveland. Over the next 36 years, she taught primary and intermediate grades at 16 different schools in the Cleveland and Youngstown Dioceses, as well as in Arlington, Virginia and Winter Haven, Florida.
In 1988, she accepted an invitation to become a certified teacher of the ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) program in Cleveland. Working with adults as a literacy tutor proved to be a perfect match for her skills and advocacy. Extending her ministry beyond the classroom through Catholic Charities, Sister Merita addressed the practical needs of refugee and immigrant families, accompanying them to medical appointments, performing job searches, and familiarizing them with grocery shopping and public transportation.
Ten years later, Sister Merita returned to Florida, where she assisted at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Dunedin, and continued her work as a tutor and moderator of weekly conversation classes at local libraries in Clearwater. In 2012 she was recognized as “Volunteer of the Year” by the Literacy Council of Upper Pinellas County. ”My students come to America to find a better life and to escape poverty, persecution, fear, and injustice,” she said. “This ministry is most gratifying because they gain self-respect, security, and a chance to accomplish their goals.” Working one-on-one with six students per week, her persevering efforts helped them to complete GED and citizenship requirements. Her heart was open to all: she always concluded her tutoring sessions by saying “I love you” to each student in his or her native language. Sister Merita retired and joined the Chardon community in 2018.
The Mass of Christian Burial for Sister Merita Strahler will be celebrated on Wednesday, July 21, at 4:30 p.m., 13000 Auburn Road, Chardon, OH, 44024. The Mass will be livestreamed.
To view the livestreamed Mass click here.