Sister Mary Trzasko, advocate and teacher of special needs children, dies at 83

ADRIAN, Mich.—Sister Mary Trzasko, formerly known as Sister Mary Beata, died on Feb. 20, 2020, at the Dominican Life Center in Adrian. She was 83.

Sister Mary was born in Wilkes Barre, Penn., to Joseph and Anna (Stelmach) Trzasko. She graduated from the Felician Academy in Detroit, and obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Home Economics from Madonna College in Livonia and a Master of Arts degree in Home Economics from Wayne State University in Detroit.

Influenced by the kindness of the religious sisters at her elementary school, Sister Trzasko entered religious life in Adrian right after high school. She was in the 65th year of her religious profession. She first spent 18 years in the Felician Sisters in Livonia, Michigan, and then served 47 years in the Adrian Dominican Congregation.

Sister Mary

Sister Mary dedicated 21 years to the Diocese of Charleston, S.C. She moved to Beaufort in 1985 and was a member of St. Peter Church.

During her time in Beaufort, she worked at Lowcountry Human Development as a teacher in an alternative school for teenage mothers. She also volunteered at the Department of Disability and Special Needs, where she worked with children of special-needs parents or from at-risk families.

In the summer of 1995, she founded Thumbs Up in Port Royal, a nonprofit organization that provided an after-school program for children from disadvantaged homes. Sister Mary directed this program for 12 years, until 2007.

Over the course of her 65 years as a religious sister, she also spent 25 years ministering in education in Detroit, Livonia, Manistee, Wyandotte, and Hamtramck, including one year as education coordinator in Mount Clemens, all in Michigan. She served as parish minister for two years in Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan. She also ministered 10 years as a pastoral team member, political activist and advocate, and community coordinator in various agencies in Cincinnati, Ohio. Sister Mary served as community organizer for one year in Jackson, Tennessee. She became a resident of the Dominican Life Center in 2019.

Sister Mary is survived by a sister, Joan Smigiel, and two brothers, Joseph Trzasko and Raymond Trzasko, all of Sterling Heights, Michigan; plus loving nieces and nephews; and her Adrian Dominican Sisters.

She was buried in the Adrian Dominican cemetery on Feb. 23. Memorial gifts may be made to Adrian Dominican Sisters, 1257 East Siena Heights Drive, Adrian, Michigan, 49221.

Funeral arrangements were handled by Anderson-Marry Funeral Home, Adrian.