By Mariann Hughes
When St. Pius V Catholic School students and teachers gathered Tuesday morning to honor Sister of St. Joseph Rea Wurmnest on her retirement, she had a special request for the crowd.
“This morning at Mass, one of the things I asked the kids was, ‘If you had an aunt or an uncle or a parent who I taught,’ to stand up,” she said. “And lots of children stood up!”
That’s hardly a surprise since Sister Rea has spent the last 25 years teaching fourth and fifth graders at St. Pius. And before her 1986 entrance into the Sisters of St. Joseph, she spent 23 years teaching in the public school system.
Sister loves “working with the kids and having them enjoy learning, and catching on to something that you’ve been trying to get them to catch on to.”
After Mass, the school held a reception for Sister Rea where the children sang and recited poems they’d written for her. And as a token of appreciation for her Mustang loyalty, she was presented with a St. Pius jacket!
A lifelong Catholic who grew up in central Illinois (“I’m a farm girl,” she said), Sister Rea was encouraged by friends to look into religious life after her two children grew up and married.
The Sisters of St. Joseph started St. Pius V Catholic School 95 years ago; Sister Rea is the last Sister of St. Joseph to have served there. The school is merging with Holy Rosary Catholic School in August. The new school is named Guardian Catholic.
Sister Rea may be retiring from teaching, but by no means will her days be idle. She’ll be helping out at Guardian three hours a day with an accelerated reading program that focuses on non-fiction literature.
“I’ll just work at whatever they want me to,” she said with a laugh.