Sister Mary Henrida, 95, devoted her life to teaching


Sister Mary Henrida Kehl, who devoted her life to the School Sisters of Notre Dame, died Tuesday at Villa Assumpta in Baltimore County of complications from old age. She was 95.

She was born Barbara Kehl in Saskatchewan, Canada, to immigrants from Austria. The Kehl family moved to Rochester, N.Y., when she was 12 years old.

She went to Holy Family Parochial School in Rochester, where she became interested in the School Sisters of Notre Dame, who ran the school.

In Rochester, she met Sister Agnes Barbara Hettel, who now lives in Villa Assumpta.

The two would cross paths numerous times - first in Rochester, later in Pittsburgh and finally in Baltimore at Villa Assumpta, where they both lived.

"She was a very lovely person," said Sister Agnes Barbara. "Very quiet, very unassuming. She was a very smart person."

At the age of 17, Sister Henrida entered the School Sisters of Notre Dame's Aspiranture in September 1927. She graduated from the Institute of Notre Dame in Baltimore. She received the habit in 1929, and was given the name of Sister Mary Henrida. She professed her vows in 1931.

Sister Henrida taught in schools in numerous cities, including Buffalo, Rochester, Pittsburgh and Baltimore. She taught a variety of subjects to children in grades one through eight. While in Rochester, she received her bachelor's degree from Nazareth College. Her last teaching assignment was at Our Lady of Fatima in Baltimore, where she sometimes worked as a substitute after she retired, said Sister Agnes Barbara.

Sister Henrida loved to teach children and was remembered as a fine teacher and administrator and an intelligent woman who loved to read.

Her colleagues said they recall her saying: "My life has been very ordinary and yet a grace-filled life. Living and working with so many beautiful people is a source of many happy memories."

She celebrated her diamond jubilee this year, in honor of being a nun for 75 years.

In recent years Sister Henrida lost sight in one eye and was unable to write to her sister, so Sister Agnes Barbara would write the letters for her. She "would write to her every week so I took over for her," Sister Agnes Barbara said.

A Mass of Christian burial was celebrated Thursday at the chapel of Villa Assumpta.

Survivors include her sister, Helen Dugan of Denver, Colo.; and a nephew.

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