Sister Mary Laurene Szymanski died Aug. 24, 2015, in Erie County Medical Center in Buffalo, at the age of 97.
The former Helen Szymanski was born Jan. 22, 1918, in Buffalo, to Anthony and Frances (Fila) Szymanski. She graduated from Villa Maria Academy in Buffalo before joining the Immaculate Heart of Mary Province of the Felician Sisters in Buffalo in 1937, professing perpetual vows in 1945.
Sister Mary Laurene attended Mount St. Joseph Teachers' College, now Medaille College in Buffalo, receiving a bachelor's degree in education. She first taught at St. Luke School in Buffalo, the beginning of a 38-year teaching ministry in which she served at many diocesan elementary schools in the Buffalo area. For two years, she served the Diocese of Syracuse at St. Stanislaus School in Utica.
She was principal of Transfiguration School in Olean, a fourth-grade teacher, librarian and tutor at St. Amelia School in Tonawanda and taught religious education in many parishes. She also ministered as an aide at St. Rita's Home for Children in Getzville and a caretaker for children at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Home for Children. She also assisted in the library at Villa Maria College in Buffalo.
In 1995, she became a part-time office aide at Villa Maria College's records office, Villa Maria Academy's development office, the Felician Sisters' provincial archives and the Blessed Mary Angela Office. In January 2015, she became a patient in the Blessed Mary Angela Care Center in Buffalo.
Sister Mary Laurene is survived by nieces, nephews and their families.
A funeral Mass was held in the chapel of Immaculate Heart of Mary (Villa Maria) Convent in Buffalo, with burial in St. Stanislaus Cemetery in Cheektowaga.