Sister Angela Garlat
“Let the little children alone, and do not stop them from coming to me, for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.” (Matthew 19:14)
“This reading from Matthew seems especially poignant and appropriate for Sister Angela as we reflect on her life of 96 years and her ministry to young children spanning more than a half a century. She, who remained a delightful child at heart all her life, had only a brief chance to be a child herself,” said Sister Ann Sullivan in her commentary for Sister Angela Garlat, who died Aug. 5.
The oldest of seven children of Silvio and Olivia (Biduli) Garlat, Augusta Garlat was born Aug. 26, 1908, in Rockford, Ill. Her hometown was in South Bend, Ind., where Augusta attended Lincoln Elementary School. When Augusta was 10 years old, her father died during the flu epidemic. Shortly thereafter, her mother was hospitalized, unable to care for her children. The children were sent to orphanages, the girls going to St. Vincent’s Home for Girls in Fort Wayne, Ind.
After seventh grade, Augusta went to Our Lady of Sorrows, Chicago, where she earned her education by working in the convent. She then went to Providence High School, Chicago. She entered the Congregation Sept. 14, 1927, and professed first and perpetual vows Feb. 26, 1930, and Feb. 23, 1935, respectively. She received a bachelor’s degree in education from Saint Mary-of-the-Wood College.
Sister Angela began teaching in 1929 at St. Margaret Mary, Terre Haute, Ind. Her other Indiana classrooms included St. John Grade School and St. Joan of Arc, Indianapolis; St. Ignatius, Lafayette; and St. Ann, Terre Haute. The rest of her teaching days were spent in Illinois at Marywood and St. Athanasius, Evanston; St. Joseph, Immaculate Heart, and Costa Catholic, Galesburg; St. Andrew, Chicago; and St. Alexander, Palos Heights. She retired and returned to the Woods in 1984.
“Sister Angela said of herself that to her teaching she brought her mother’s sense of discipline, strictness and thoroughness, and her father’s enormous creativity and love of art and music,” said Sister Ann.
“She inspired creativity in her children and delighted in their art, acting and song. Frequent pageants, plays, recitals and art exhibitions opened the minds and hearts of her students to the arts. Equally exuberant grammar and times-table drills assured that her students knew their studies very well. Her classroom seemed an unlikely mix of drill sergeant and Mary Poppins,” continued Sister Ann.
“The ‘child’ in Sister Angela, so elusive in many of us, remained alive and visible in her throughout her entire life. The sharing of her gifts in a simple, selfless way was yet another hallmark of the child in her.
“Her gentle, delightful spirit found expression in the small things she enjoyed — a picture, a song, a story, an idea and even a dog, our Irish setter, Casey, at Costa. We noticed that each night he disappeared as we all went to bed. In following him one night, we found that after we were asleep, he went to Sister Angela’s door and pushed his nose under the crack in the door. It was her cue to sneak him a bit of cheese from the kitchen. We learned it was a long-standing clandestine ritual. She stayed up until he came, no matter how late, and they had grand conversations over cheese before they went to sleep,” shared Sister Ann.
“Sister Ann was a faithful woman. She was faithful to prayers and to prayer. Her devotion to the Blessed Sacrament was evident in her joy at being able to attend daily Liturgy and to take hours in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel as long as she was able.
“She was a contemplative woman, seeing life from a perspective hidden to most of us — an eye for detail and wonder, a profound connection to the mystical and beautiful flow of all life.”
Sister Ann concluded by saying, “We say goodbye now to a creative, delightful, determined and faithful woman. We will miss her songs, her pink hats, her shrieks of laughter and her prayers for us. We know that she is welcomed by those who have loved her. She is once again in the arms of her beloved Papa that she longed for her entire life. We are confident she is in the arms of the Jesus of Matthew’s Gospel who treasures the children and the child in each of us. We know for certain that Sister Angela is taking great delight in it all.”
The Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated Aug. 9, with the Rev. Daniel Hopcus presiding. She is survived by two sisters, Agnes Shane, Galesburg, Ill., and Louise Dalnes.
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