Oral History

Memoirs of Sister Mary Theodorette Debrowski, OSF

After Sister M. Theodorette completed her High School in South River, New Jersey in 1934 she entered the congregation of the Bernardine Franciscan Sisters in Reading, Pennsylvania.  At that time there were forty-two postulants, young women preparing to live a religious life.

Sister M. Theodorette related as follows:
Courses were taught at Alvernia from Villanova University (college at that time) by Sister M. Edmund, Reverend Zmijewski, the chaplain, and other qualified professors as part of the religious training in preparing the young postulants to teach the children in parochial elementary and secondary schools.

Sister Theodorette had as many as sixty-one third grade pupils in her class as her first assignment.  Classes were large.  For one year she taught Art at Mount Alvernia High School in Reading and studied Art with Sister Celine.

In 1941, she went to Brazil as a missionary with a group of sixteen Bernardine Sisters.  There she labored for twenty-eight years working among the poor and teaching in the elementary, secondary and college areas.  Her memories of Brazil are priceless.  This she added to the culture of Alvernia’s Art Department.  In 1968 Sister Theodorette returned to America.

As far as Art was concerned at Alvernia, the faculty complied with the Brazilian Portugese culture in the development which begins at home then continues to expand with higher education.  There was great influence upon our art students through which the American Brazilian Sisters with Brazilian experience were able to contribute and enrich our American culture.

Sister Theodorette was chairperson of the Art Department for twelve years.  Realizing that Sister Magnifica, a talented professional artist was teaching a fifth grade, she suggested to Sister Dolorey, President of Alvernia College that Sister Magnifica would be an excellent choice for the Art Department.  Both, Sister Theodorette and Sister Magnifica enhanced the Art Department with their talents and creativity by encouraging and bringing out the potential in the students.

Since Sister Theodorette’s retirement, contact with Alumni confirms how much the various Art courses have influenced their lives in success.

Interviewed by Sister M. Alodia Podczasy, September 13, 1998

Contact Information

The University Archives are located at the 951 Morgantown Offices on the first floor. Please contact Sharon Neal, Library Director to schedule an appointment.


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