Mother Margareta and her time
The first Sisters who came from Algersdorf with Sr. Margareta conveyed some interesting facts about her to Sr. Angelina Krizanic, Sr. Lidvina Purgaj and to other sisters.
Sr. Margareta’s physical appearance and demeanor were described as follows: She was of medium height and slender stature. Her pace was moderate, and she was calm and prudent in her speech. She had a gentle smile and was never overbearing.
When she wished to introduce something new into the sisters’ schedule or regarding the education of the children, she always consulted the sisters, “What do you think about this, sisters? Would it be better to change this, or add...or introduce...?”
While waiting for the sisters’ response, she remained calm and gentle, never impatient, and without a domineering attitude that says, “We must do it this way...We will introduce this...this is not for religious...etc.” No, everything in her behavior was directed toward seeking a peaceful and mutual collaboration. In this way she moved and encouraged the sisters to reflect, to express their opinions and motivations, until a decision was reached.
Sr. Angelina, Sr. Lidvina and some other sisters maintained that although Mother Margareta had a choleric temperament, it was “a choleric temperament moderated by self-discipline.”
The consistency she showed in all her activity indicated the good upbringing she had had prior to entering the convent. She had received a good cultural education in manners and comportment in her uncle’s family where she lived until she was 24, that is, until she entered the convent. Her uncle was considered to be among the so-called better class of his region in his business activity. Her aunt, a gentle and good woman who was likewise respected, was a teacher of fine needlework. Apparently the entire family was well thought of, and this included Maria Pucher.
We have already alluded to the good example she gave. Sr. Margareta often spoke to the sisters that the most effective means of teaching was by good example. She said that scolding, fear, and threats of punishment were not the best methods for educating children. Rather, the example of a good teacher, good instruction that was not overly strict, as well as prayer, pardon, and an understanding of the child’s difficulties could generate astonishing success.
Another incident that touches on her good example is the following incident26 which was related to us by Sr. Emanuela during our teacher’s education class, a class dedicated to explaining good methods of education:
A novice fourth grade teacher had some very restless children in her class. They were difficult to handle and keep calm. Since some of them were disturbing the lessons, the Sister became upset and punished the culprits by striking them with her hand. Just at that moment, alerted by the loud screams, Mother Margareta entered the room. Surprised by what she saw, she immediately withdrew, quickening her pace. The sister, aware of what she had done, hurried after her to try to justify her behavior, but Sr. Margareta stopped her explanation only to say, “I left because I was embarrassed for you and for what you did in anger. With that act you humiliated yourself before the children.”