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Sister Margo: Dream big & stay close to God
Sister Margo Young of the Precious Blood Sisters acknowledges the recognition award just presented to her at the end of the St. Anthony’s School students’ mass Wednesday celebrating Catholic Schools Week. The school recognizes a distinguished alumnus every year during this celebration. - photo by ROSE ALBANO RISSO
For the first time since she graduated from St. Anthony’s School in 1961, Margo Young returned to her old haunts in Manteca this week.

This time, she was here to receive the distinguished alumni award as part of the celebration of Catholic Schools Week as Sister Margo Young, now a nun with the Precious Blood Sisters and a medical doctor, among the many ministry-oriented professional pursuits she has undertaken through the years including working with the “very poor” in Guatemala and the tsunami victims in India.

“She’s just phenomenal,” said Debbie Kapina, the school’s development director, of Sister Margo during her introduction speech prior to the presentation of the award at the end of the students’ mass on Wednesday.

Sister Margo was a member of the first class to graduate from St. Anthony’s School in 1961. She started in fourth grade – the school opened with just four classes in 1955. She had previously attended Lincoln Elementary School. She started high school at Manteca High and left after her sophomore year to the boarding school at the San Luis Rey Academy at Oceanside in Southern California for her novitiate studies. After graduating there in 1965, she entered the convent as a postulant.

Recalling her years at St. Anthony’s, she said, “It was here that I found God to be a refuge, where I learned of my God and Jesus as my guide.”

She also recalled how things have changed since those first years at St. Anthony’s School. She remembered that even as fourth graders, they worked in the school cafeteria and in the library, and were sent to the first-grade class to teach them to read.

“So we had a unique opportunity to learn leadership” even at that young age, she said.

But the most important thing to remember, she said to the students in her brief speech after receiving the award, is that “we are a community.”

Among the other nuggets of wisdom she imparted:

•“Jesus is not present without us.”

•“Take time to know yourself and to love Jesus.”

•“You are accepted for just what you are. We are all different and we are all acceptable.”

•“Dream big and stay close to God.”

Catholic education, she added, is a “great gift to the church and to the world.”

While with the Precious Blood Sisters of Dayton, Ohio, Sister Margo went on to pursue her studies, obtaining a bachelor’s degree in education and receiving a teaching credential, a master’s degree in counseling, and ultimately graduating from medical school in 1990 from Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine in Dayton. By that time, she has been a precious Blood sister for more than 20 years and was in her early 40s.

Since then, she has been “all over the world,” ministering to the very poor. She was in Guatemala for 13 years where she practiced medicine and taught residency. In Guatemala, also helped the victims of the earthquake disasters. In India after the deadly tsunami in 2004, she went “from village to village” – she covered five villages in three months – to help the tsunami victims.

“I’m eternally grateful that I’m a physician,” she said.

Sister Margo described her work in her medical profession as her third life. Her first life was being a teacher, followed by her second life as a pastoral minister where she was able to use her master’s degree in counseling with concentration in geriatrics working as a hospital chaplain and director.

When she returned to the United States from Guatemala, her first order of business was to renew her medical board certification as an internist, which she passed with flying colors.

“So I’m good ‘till 2018,” she said of her medical practice.

Her new job is Community Outreach Physician, which was created for her at St. Bernardine’s Medical Center in San Bernardino County. Her job is to work with the “vulnerable population,” which is a modern phrase used to describe the poor and the marginalized people who fall through the cracks of society, she explained.