Cardinal Gibbons Founding Principal Sr. Marie Schramko, O.S.F. Passes Away at Age 102
Erin Herbert

Cardinal Gibbons High School today announced the passing of founding principal Sister Marie Schramko, O.S.F. Schramko, who celebrated her 102nd birthday on Feb. 10, passed away peacefully on Sunday, April 28, at the Our Lady of Angels Retirement Home in Joliet, Illinois. 

A native of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, Sister Marie is the daughter of the late Julia and Frank Schramko. One of five children, Schramko had two brothers, Frank and Thomas, and two sisters, Julia and Caroline, all of whom are deceased.

Schramko attended the Johnstown Public School and St. Stephen’s Grade School. She received her high school diploma at Johnstown Central Catholic High School. In 1934 she came to Joliet to enter the Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate. She earned her bachelor’s degree at the College of St. Francis—now the University of St. Francis—a master’s degree from DePaul University in Chicago and continued her education at the University of Illinois on a science grant.  She later completed a master’s degree in administration and counseling at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida.  

Schramko began what is now a 77-year history of ministry in the field of Catholic high school education in 1938 when she taught religion, science and mathematics at St. Mary School in Columbus, Ohio.  She continued teaching these same subjects at St. Francis de Sales High School in Chicago, Illinois; St. Francis Academy (Joliet Catholic Academy) in Joliet, Illinois; Marybrook Academy in Maumee, Ohio; St. Procopius High School in Chicago, Illinois.  In 1961, at the request of Archbishop Carroll, she began her 54-year ministry in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. She was asked to start a co-institutional Catholic high school in the northeast section of Fort Lauderdale. She arrived in August to begin the school as one of the founding principals only to discover that there were no buildings and no books—just a campus with nothing but barren sand and skeletons of brick and mortar. Whenever the school needed a teacher, Schramko would go back to school herself and get the degree needed to teach the subjects.   

After serving as a founding principal, Schramko ministered at Cardinal Gibbons as the assistant principal. When she no longer taught in the classroom, she would still find time to be with the students. In years past, she was known for attending every athletic event, sitting in the bleachers with her umbrella.

Sister’s greatest enjoyment was seeing her former students around Fort Lauderdale serving the people of Fort Lauderdale as judges, doctors and politicians. She left Fort Lauderdale returning to Joliet, Illinois in 2015. Cardinal Gibbons principal Paul Ott, who fondly remembers Schramko as both a colleague and a friend, said, “Sr. Marie was not only one of the founding principals of our school, but she was also the corner stone of almost everything that has been accomplished here over the past 59 years. Our collective debt of gratitude is immeasurable, as is our sense of loss.” Funeral arrangements for Sister Marie Schramko in Joliet, Illinois are as follows: a wake will be at Our Lady of Angels Retirement Home, 1201 Wyoming Avenue, Joliet, IL, (Wyoming and Rt. 30) on Monday, May 13, 2019 from 2:00–6:45 p.m., with a Prayer Service at 4:45 p.m. and Mass of Christian Burial at 7:00 p.m. The Funeral Procession will leave from Our Lady of Angels on Tuesday morning, May 14, 2019 at 9:00 a.m. The Interment will take place at Resurrection Cemetery in Romeoville, IL.

Cardinal Gibbons will host a Memorial Mass for Sister Marie Schramko at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, 4595 Bayview Drive, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, on Thursday, May 16, 2019, at 7:00 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, a memorial fund for Sister Marie Schramko has been set up at Cardinal Gibbons High School. Donations can be sent to Cardinal Gibbons High School, 2900 NE 47th St., Ft. Lauderdale, FL, 33308. For more information regarding the Sister Marie Schramko Memorial Fund, please contact (954) 491-2900 ext. 143.