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"Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.” (Psalm 100: 2)

Andrew and Louise Watroba immigrated to the United States from Poland and settled in Hammond, Indiana. The couple had five children, all girls. Mary and Harriet came first, followed by Leona. Josephine and Stella were soon to follow. Leona was born on March 3, 1913 and was baptized at St. Mary’s Church on March 9th. She made her confirmation on October 15, 1925 and took the name Theresa.

Leona was taught by the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago through the eighth grade at St. Mary of Czestochowa School in Hammond, Indiana. Leona was impressed by the sisters’ dedication to prayer and community life and their commitment to teaching. When the sisters went on retreat or left the convent during the summer, Leona would assume the tasks that needed to be done to keep the convent tidy. Leona also enjoyed keeping the church sacristy in order.

Leona knew from the young age of eleven, that she would serve God forever. Thus when Leona was 21 years of age, she joined the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago on September 8, 1934 and on February 2, 1935 she became a postulant. When Leona entered novitiate on August 15, 1935, she received the name Sister Mary Hedwinella. Two years later, Sister made her First Profession of Vows and on August 12, 1942, she made her Perpetual Profession.

During her postulancy and first year novitiate, Sister served at the motherhouse performing various tasks. As a second year novice, Sister was sent to St. Stanislaus, Bishop & Martyr in Chicago to serve as sacristan. After first vows, Sister was sent to St. Casimir in Johnstown, Pennsylvania to teach 2nd and 3rd grade. In 1940 Sister was sent to Boys Town Nebraska to serve at Boys Town as sacristan and seamstress. Sister remained in Boys Town for seven years.

In 1947 Sister Leona entered the healthcare field as an X-ray technician trainee and was sent to St. John Hospital in Huron, South Dakota. A year later she was sent to a School of Radiology in Yankton, South Dakota to earn a degree as an X-ray technician. Sister accomplished this goal in 1950 and returned to Huron, South Dakota where she served for 21 years. During this time, in 1968 to be exact, Sister asked permission to return to her baptismal name of Leona and her request was granted.

Sister’s concern with radiation exposure over so many years caused her to ask for a transfer. Thus in 1971 Sister Leona moved to St. Anthony Home in Crown Point, Indiana as a receptionist. A year later Sister was sent to St. Joseph Home of Chicago to serve as a Medicare and Medicaid clerk. During this time Sister also served as Assistant Administrator, receptionist and Local Minister.

In 1983 Sister Leona came to the motherhouse in Lemont, Illinois to be the director of housekeeping for the next three years. Afterwards, Sister served as the local treasurer for the next 11 years until she retired in 1997. However, Sister didn’t retire fully as she worked in the motherhouse library until 1999 when Sister officially retired to the infirmary.

Sister Leona had a great devotion to the Blessed Mother and she prayed the rosary frequently each day. Sister always felt the she was living in the presence of God.

After 82 years of religious life and at the age of 104, Sister Leona quietly left this earth early in the evening of Thursday, July 6th, to be with Jesus whom she loved and served with all her heart.