By Diane Schlindwein
TEUTOPOLIS — At 81 years old, Sister Christina Marie Frick, SSND, continues to find joy in teaching young children — and she has been teaching so long that many of her original students now have children and grandchildren of their own. In retirement she continues to share the Catholic faith with PSR students at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Teutopolis.
Sister Christina Marie was born in St. Louis and grew up being influenced by women of the order she eventually joined. She attended St. Wenceslaus Grade School, which was taught by School Sisters of Notre Dame. She went on to attend Rosati-Kain High School, an all-girls Catholic high school that was founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph Carondelet and the School Sisters of Notre Dame.
Like many at the time, her vocation came at an early age. “After graduation I went right into the motherhouse in St. Louis,” she remembers. She made her first profession as a School Sister of Notre Dame in 1960. She has devoted her decades of active ministry to teaching primary grade school students across both the Springfield and Belleville dioceses.
From 1962 to 1970 she taught at St. Paul Grade School in Highland, followed by three years at St. Dominic in Breese. She then moved to Herrin, where she served for four years at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. She then moved to Teutopolis, where she remains today.
Although she officially retired from teaching full-time at Teutopolis Grade School a few years back, she reports two days a week to spend 40 minutes teaching religion to children who attend public school in Teutopolis.
Sister Christina Marie calls Teutopolis “a very Catholic town.” There was a time when four School Sisters of Notre Dame taught full-time for various grades at the public school. Sister Christina Marie was the last of those sisters to retire. By that time, she was well into her 70s.
“I had a classroom at the school here from 1977 to 2017, and I taught every day,” she said. “Since I’ve retired, I volunteer two mornings a week.” She volunteers at other places, too, she added.
Students who attend Sister Christina Marie’s class — as well as religion classes taught by other volunteers — begin religion class at 8 a.m. and spend time learning about their faith before their other school classes begin. Sister Christina Marie teaches on Thursdays and Fridays during the school year.
Children who are about 7 or 8 years old are a blessing to teach, Sister Christina Marie said. “They are so innocent, and they are ready to learn, their minds are wonderful. They aren’t babies but they are not sophisticated just yet. They are just a special age.
“I thank God for the blessings that Notre Dame has given me in ministry and living in community with SSND. Also, for the joy of preparing children to receive first Communion and first reconciliation,” she concluded. “I am just so glad to have been a teacher all these years. I really have loved it.”