“Blessed are those who dwell in your house ever singing your praise. Blessed are they who find strength in you, whose hearts are set on the pilgrim’s path.”

~ Psalm 84

Singing, walking the pilgrim’s path, finding strength in faith, family and friends – all describe the long and good life of Margaret Schneider.

Margaret Grace was the first child of Christian and Josephine Schmidt Schneider. She was born March 8, 1928 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Two brothers, Wallace and James, arrived soon after, and then much later when Margaret had entered the convent and her two brothers were serving in Korea, her parents were delighted to be blessed with two more sons, Gerard and Donald.

During the Depression years, Margaret’s father moved the family from Grand Rapids to a farm near Casnovia. Margaret’s grandfather moved in with the family which allowed her father to live in town where work was available on week days, and attend to a large garden for the family’s benefit on the weekends.

In 1934, the Schneider family returned to a northeast Grand Rapids neighborhood where Margaret attended St. Alphonsus’ School for grades 3-8. Here she was taught by the Grand Rapids Dominicans. The Redemptorist priests and brothers and the Dominican Sisters had a profound influence on Margaret and her family. The Dominican influence continued in her high school years at Catholic Central.

After graduating in 1945, Margaret worked at a government job for a year to give herself some time to mature and pray about her vocation. Then with encouragement from Sister James Rau, she felt ready to follow the call to become a Sister – “whatever that was.” It was to become many things. With the kindness of the Chaplain, Fr. Charles Pius Wilson, OP, and the help of her classmates she persevered, taking the name Sister Mary Peter until returning to her baptismal name after Vatican II.

Soon after profession in 1948, Sister Peter embarked on a twenty-seven year ministry in education, and fifteen of those years included the role of principal. She served at St. Norbert, Munger; Holy Family, Saginaw; Holy Rosary, Bay City; St. Alphonsus, Grand Rapids; St. Mary,Hannah; St. Mary, New Salem; St. Joseph, West Branch; Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Chesaning; and St. Alfred, Taylor. While missioned at St. Alphonsus, she spent weekends helping to care for her mother, who was suffering from cancer.

In 1965, Margaret completed work on her B.A. from Aquinas College. Later she was able to pursue her early desire to do social work. She spent two years studying at the University of Michigan and received her M.S.W. in 1970. She became a School Social Worker for the Saginaw Public Schools—the first Sister in Michigan to hold such a position. She spent twelve years working in the public schools as well as six years in Catholic schools and one year in a Lutheran school. She also served on the Sisters’ Council and the Pastoral Council in the Saginaw Diocese. In 1982, she returned to Grand Rapids where she was the School Social Worker for St. Andrew School.

During summers Margaret worked toward a Master’s degree in Spirituality at Creighton University, and in 1983 she became a pastoral associate at Holy Family parish, Caledonia, a ministry she dearly loved. She also took leadership training for Stephen Ministry in Orlando, Florida.

Life for Margaret changed in 1988, when she was elected to a six-year term as Councilor for Life Development in the Congregation. In this role she had many opportunities to apply her social work skills within the community. When this term was completed she was glad to move to northern Michigan and return to her earlier educational ministry as principal at St. Mary School, Charlevoix. In retirement she shared a welcoming Marywood apartment with Sr. Janet Mish and became a member of the Prayer and Listening Line team.

Margaret was a plain-spoken, down-to-earth person who, in her own words, learned on the job. One of the great joys in her life was the event of Vatican Council II. Here was a shift to a church that was more aligned with Margaret’s own spirit of inclusivity, compassion and joy. She loved summer, excelled in sports and enjoyed reading. Her travels in later years included a trip to a cloistered Carmelite monastery in eastern Pennsylvania where she and Sister Roberta Hefferan visited a mutual friend and classmate from St. Alphonsus who had become a member there.

Sister Margaret always enjoyed the Sisters with whom she lived and the children in the schools where she ably served so many years. Her compassion and understanding of the human condition informed her work in the schools as well as her later ministry as a social worker and then as a listener on the Prayer and Listening Line.

Sister Margaret often found the humor in the situation and laughter infused her life. Her well told anecdotes and spontaneous sense of humor blessed those around her. Warm and affectionate, dearly loved by family and friends, Sister Margaret will be greatly missed even as her legacy of love and laughter live on in those who follow her example of singing, loving and laughing along the pilgrim’s path.

Sister Margaret is survived by her brothers Wallace Schneider of Grand Ledge, Michigan; Gerard Schneider (Eileen) of Charlotte, Michigan; Donald Schneider (Denise) of Lowell, Michigan; and sister-in-law Mary Kay Schneider (widow of James) of Wyoming, Michigan; nieces, nephews; many friends and members of her Dominican Community.