The Call - S. Mary Germaine Maximovich
By Josh Zeller, Communications intern
In reflecting back on her early days, S. Mary Germaine Maximovich recalls a game that she played with her siblings, an instance of childhood imagination that would turn out to be prophetic: “We would playact that we were priests and nuns; we would kind of have fun with it.” Sister gives special credit to her siblings she played with—in addition to her parents and the Sisters who taught her—as influences on her decision to enter religious life: “It’s more or less the background that I lived in that really produced the soil for a vocation.”
Growing up in Akron, Ohio, she attended St. Mary’s parish church, and was taught by the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary at St. Mary’s Grade and High School; she would attend the school’s movie performances, which featured films depicting the lives of Jesus and the saints. S. Mary Germaine and her siblings served the parish through selling The Catholic Universe Bulletin, and by going around the community, trying to get parishioners more involved in saying their rosary.
“My mother volunteered us in different causes …” Sister remembers. For one service project, the family collected sales tax stamps for a blind couple in need, which were bound into allotments and taken to a facility where they were changed into cash. Furthermore, the family attended services at St. Peter Claver—a church that served Akron’s African-American population—where their mother was involved in an interracial group. All of this was crucial to the development of a religious consciousness and deep faith in God, not only for S. Mary Germaine, but also for her sister, Josephine.
In discussing the journey to her own vocation, Sister cites the call of her sister, because their stories are so closely related. During her eighth grade year, Josephine, a year-and-a-half older than S. Mary Germaine, decided that she wanted to become a missionary. Since she was 14 years old, her father consulted with his brother-in-law, Joseph; after some consideration, Joseph advised that Josephine should be allowed to do the work she wanted.
Josephine paid a visit to Monseigneur Price, the parish priest, who sent her to the Vincentian Sisters of Charity in Bedford, Ohio, with a recommendation; after visiting, she found that it was a Congregation that she wanted to be a part of. Because of her training in the keyboard, she began playing for the Community at Mass and other services while also attending Marymount High School, a school administrated and staffed by the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis. About a year passed, and S. Mary Germaine found herself in eighth grade; one day, she received a simple note from Josephine that asked her a life-altering question: “When are you going to join me?”
“And that’s that,” Sister says. “That’s how it happened.” She wrote to the Mother General of the Vincentian Sisters, and entered at the end of her eighth grade year.
It is clear that the process of deciding on a religious vocation is never solely individual; there are many people involved who are crucial to helping a potential woman religious answer and embrace the call of God.