Sister Aline Hrncir (Definitely Not a "Penguin of God")
Following is an account of the life of Sister Aline Hrncir. It is contained in a self-published book titled "Hrncír Family" which was written, researched, compiled and edited by Charles L. "Chuck" Hrncir and Marilynn "Mickie" MeGehearty Hrncir in 1991.
I am introducing with wonderful lady to you now because she suddenly became dangerously ill before the Hrncir family reunion last Sunday. She is in a hospital in San Antonio. Unexpectedly (by the grace of God?) she seems to be making a full recovery. It is my hope that the positive thoughts which are generated as I transcribe this tale as well, hopefully, those created as you all read her tale will assist in her recovery.
Please, those of you who are not Catholic or who view nuns as "the Penguins of God", please take the time to learn about Sister Aline as a person. Through her career as a Sister, she was able to contribute to society in a way which most women were not able to do in those times of limited opportunities for women. In her I also see great personal strength and character is a small package. I admire her intelligence, determiantion, and gift of faith.
Sister Aline Hrncir
Sister Aline (Beatrice Marie) was born 8 August 1912, in Moulton, Lavaca County, Texas. She was the third child of Frank K. and Frances Rektorik Hrncir. There were nine children in the family: Vladik, Julius, Beatrice, Edith, Manuel and Daniel (twins), Frank, Helen, and Gene.
Home and family ties were and are strong. Frank promised and gave each of the children and education. Although farming was not very encouraging and the one hundred and twenty acre farm was hardly enough o make a living for the family, they always had plenty. They rotated crops, raised chickens, hogs, cows, horses, turkeys, and much more to make ends meet. Frank was an excellent manager and Frances and excellent cook and baker.
Frank loved music and purchased an organ that reached from the floor to the ceiling. There he played by ear and bought Sister Aline a book for self-taught lessons. So she learned to read music and play anything which she could get hold of. The family enjoyed singing at home while Frank played. There was also singing with Professor Alois Morkovsky, Sr., Principal of Komensky School who led the children in four-part singing. Sister Aline sang soprano.
Older brother, Vladik ("Mike"), attended Baldwin’s Business College in Yoakum, He obtained a job with the SP [Southern Pacific] railroad. Later he transferred to Victoria and then to Houston, where he and his family lived until his death. Julius ("Ike") followed a similar career path and obtained a position with the SPRR [Southern Pacific Railroad.]
Sister Aline was the next eldest. Her father needed help on the farm. She was anxious and willing to help. She plowed with a team of four (4) horses, raked hay with a horse and rake, planted cotton and corn, swept the furrows of cotton and corn with a horse drawn sweep, and helped with all the harvesting. She was the family bookkeeper, mechanic aid, secretary and general all around "flunky". When she finished the ninth grade at Komensky, she went to Baldwin’s in Yoakum. Upon completion of the courses, she returned home, because jobs were very scarce, because of the Great Depression. She could not see herself working in an office the rest of her life.
While at home, she drove her younger brothers and sisters to and from school in the family car. One evening when she went to pick them up, she took a copy of "The Sacred Heart Messenger", which subscription Vladik had given the family as a first gift when he went to work. The issue happened to be a vocation issue. When she turned to the picture of Jesus in the Garden, a special grace touched her, and she wanted to go to the garden and comfort Him, for he was alone--even the Apostles had left Him. She continued to have spiritual experiences and decided to investigate the possibility of following Him in the religious life. She visited her Pastor and he told her to make a Retreat at her home and return after Easter if she still wanted to go. After some studying, she was impressed by the Sisters of Divine Providence. She decided to send a letter to two convents (The Sisters of Divine Providence and Incarnate Word [both of these were in San Antonio]). She asked Jesus to guide her and she decided that she would go with whomever answered first. She received a reply by return mail from Mother Philothea of Divine Providence. Vladik gave her a dowry of a hundred dollars; Julius said he would take care of any dental costs, and her Dad said if she did not like it she would always have a home to come to.
Sister finished the 10th, 11th, and 12th grades at Our Lady of the Lake (OLL). She received the Cape on 8 December 1935, and entered the Novitiate 21 June 1936. On 22 June 1937, she made her first profession as a Sister. that Fall, she taught for the first time at St. Joseph’s Academy, San Antonio. While there she was gifted to teach and influence two future priests, Father Lawrence Stuebben and Father Marvin Doefler.
In 1941, she had a thyroidectomy, which left her unable to speak except in a whisper. Unable to teach, she was afraid she would be sent home. Sister Hilary and Sister Aline went to a devotion for three hours at St. Mary’s and prayed for a miracle. At the Magnificat, she sang out loudly for the first time. She was able to communicate and speak softly, but not load enough to teach children.
She was assigned to St. Ann Hospital in Abilene as Business Manager for 1942. World War II had begun and there was a great amount of business. Sister treasures her experiences with the many doctors, the army personnel from around the world, and the local Abilene residents who were mostly Baptist and Church of Christ denominations. While there most vivid experience was the sudden illness and death of her father in November 1947. Nick Crain, a printer and very good Baptist friend, drove Sister Magdelene and Sister Aline to the Shiner hospital in his car. They arrived on the 26th of November and her father died on the 27th. Sister could not speak to her Father for he was under an oxygen tent. After all the children arrived, Frances, their mother, and all the children gathered around his bed and prayed the rosary all night. When they paused, Frank would pull on his covers indicating that he wanted them to continue.
In 1953, Sister Aline was transferred to Madonna Hospital in Dennison, Texas. Mother General Angelique wanted Sister Aline to finish her degree, so she took a correspondence course from the University of Arkansas, and an English course later at OLL and received her degree in 1955. The new mother general, Sister Amata, asked Sister Aline to go to the new Bishop Forrest High School in Schulenburg to teach English and History to the freshman class. These years she treasured. She was close to her family in Moulton. The Pastor, Father Hermes, said that she put sunshine into the community. Of course, those of us that know her, know that she brings joy every place she goes. She returned to St. Ann Hospital in Abilene the next year.
In the summer of 1959, Sister Aline and Sister Consolata were asked to help the City of Floresville build a hospital. They traveled daily from OLL to Floresville in an unheated and un-airconditioned Army surplus car. A steel strike delayed the construction. So the Mother General sent Sister Aline to St. Henry’s School in Dallas to teach for a few months. When the strike was over, she returned to Floresville and the Hospital was opened in April 1960.
In 1962, when she celebrated her Silver Jubilee, she was assigned to Madonna Hospital in Dennison. When that hospital was sold, she transferred to Floresville to serve as Comptroller-Business Manager. Later she became the Personnel Director at OLL Retirement Center in San Antonio.
In 1984, she became the Parish Minister of St. Rose of Lima Church in Schulenburg. Sister is on the Pastoral Council; is a part-time receptionist and clerk; visits the sick in hospitals, retirement homes; plays the organ for funerals and the student’s Friday morning liturgies.
On the first Sunday in June 1987, at the annual Hrncir Reunion in Moravia, Texas, all relatives present gave thanks and praise for Sister Aline’s fifty years as a Sister at a Mass in Ascension Church, celebrated by Father Richard Filice, her Pastor, and Msgr. Robert Schmidt, Pastor of the Moulton Catholic Church.
Later, in San Antonio, on June 22, 1987, Sister Aline celebrated her Golden Jubilee as a Sister of Divine Providence at Our Lady of the Lake Convent Chapel, with her many sisters, many of whom were celebrating various Jubilees of their own. That Mass was celebrated by Msgr. Edward C. Matocha, Vicar General of the Austin Diocese.
I thank both Sister Aline and Mr. and Mrs. Hrncir for allowing me to reprint this story here.
Susan Rektorik Henley
Kdo chce s vlky býti, musí s vlky výti!
"If you run with the wolves, then you must howl with the wolves!"
"Remember who your people are, keep and tell their stories."
"Keep the fires of the culture alive!"