Sister Mary Evangeline Waters, a retired educator and member of the Sisters of Mercy for more than seven decades, died of heart failure Friday at The Villa, her order's retirement home in the Woodbrook section of Baltimore County. She was 97.
She was born Ellen Ford Waters in Leonardtown and raised in Baltimore. She attended Margaret Brent Elementary School and was a 1928 graduate of Western High School.
One day, she and several friends went to visit the Sisters of Mercy motherhouse on the grounds of St. Agnes College in Mount Washington. "At the time, she was too young to enter a religious community," said Sister Patricia Smith, vice president of the Sisters of Mercy.
In 1930, she entered the religious community. She professed her vows in 1936.
"It was purely grace. It was an amazing thing; they got me in one year," Sister Evangeline said in a recent interview.
"I entered on a Wednesday and on Saturday they sent me to a class to learn how to be a teacher. Then I was put right into the classroom of fourth- through eighth-graders - all in one room," she said in the interview. "I didn't know how to teach yet, but I must have done all right, because just recently, one of those fourth-graders came back to see me."
Sister Evangeline earned a bachelor's degree in 1950 from Mount St. Agnes College and a master's degree in education from Loyola College in 1955.
She began teaching at Holy Trinity Parochial School in Washington in 1933, and later held teaching assignments at schools in Alabama, before returning to Baltimore to teach at the old St. Vincent's Male Orphan Asylum in Govans in 1943.
During the mid-1940s, she was an office assistant at what is now Mercy Medical Center and a superior at the Little Flower convent in Woodstock from 1944 to 1945.
Sister Evangeline taught at Mount St. Agnes from 1945 to 1947, when she joined the faculty of St. Bernard Parochial School, where she remained until the mid-1950s.
She was both principal and a teacher at Immaculate Heart of Mary Parochial School from 1956 to 1960, and taught at Mercy High School from 1960 to 1961, when she was named principal of the Cathedral School in Savannah, Ga.
In 1965, she returned to teach at the Shrine of the Sacred Heart School in Mount Washington in 1965, and later was on the faculty of the Little Flower School in Woodstock from 1967 to 1968.
Sister Evangeline had taught for two years at St. Mary's School in Rockville, when she decided to semi-retire from teaching in 1970.
"But she was not one to sit idle," said Adrianne M. Nickerson, administrate assistant to Sister Patricia Smith.
Sister Evangeline was a substitute teacher and tutor at Mercy High School and the Mount Washington Country School for Boys from 1970 to 1983.
She provided pastoral care and archival services at Mercy Medical Center from 1983 to 1999, when she retired.
In her retirement at The Villa, Sister Evangeline kept busy praying for the sick, Ms. Nickerson said.
"She was a very quiet and kind woman who preferred not to be a public figure," Sister Patricia Smith said. "And she was beloved in our religious community."
"Sister Evangeline will always be known for her quiet, kind and gentle hospitality," Ms. Nickerson said. "She was an unassuming and gracious lady to everyone that she knew."
A funeral Mass was held Tuesday.
Sister Evangeline is survived by many nieces and nephews.