Sister Margaret Straub was born on June 26, 1955 in Rochester, New York. She was the second of four children, having one sister and two brothers. During her college years, she became friends with the brothers of Genesee Abbey and her call to Cistercian life was discerned with the help of these brothers, who remained close to her the rest of her life. She recalled later to some of her peers how the Prophet Jeremiah’s call had spoken to her during the years of visiting Genesee. The verse she quoted to some of her sisters was: “You have seduced me, O Lord, and I have let myself be seduced; You have overpowered me; You are the stronger.”
She entered Mount Saint Mary's Abbey in 1978 and became Sister Mary Margaret. Her gift for words, her musical ability, her gentle humor, and kindly disposition were evident from the beginning. She gave herself to each assignment and added a sense of fun to almost any undertaking. Her monastic life was clearly serious, though, and she had an unusual integrity and purity of heart.
In 1987, she was among the six foundresses to leave Wrentham and bring the beginnings of Cistercian life to Crozet, Virginia. Her gift of self for the foundation took on a very sacrificial nature when, in 1988, she was diagnosed with acute leukemia. Returning to Wrentham where the nearby Boston Medical Center had greater resources to help her, she became one of the early recipients of a successful bone marrow transplant, the donor being her brother, Michael. During those long months that she was in the hospital her sisters and her Spencer brothers were frequent blood and platelet donors. Her Genesee brothers, the Crozet community, and many others supported her by prayer, and her family became deeply bonded with the Wrentham community.
As her physical strength increased she was gradually reinserted into the ordinary monastic life. Scriptural chiasms became a focus for study during these years. She served the community as liturgist for many years, taught a while in the Novitiate, taught music to interested sisters, and at the time of her death was the food housekeeper. At the unexpected death of Father Placid on March 20, 2000, she gladly assumed the editorial position for the Regional Mailbag.
Her passing came with a suddenness and violence that took some time for us to absorb. At noon, while portress, she had a headache and when she lost use of her legs, she called the infirmarian who came immediately. The infirmarian and Mother Agnes took her to the local hospital where the seriousness became known. She was bleeding in her brain and needed emergency surgery. Taken by ambulance to Boston, where the staff knew her history best, her condition deteriorated so quickly that before Compline her community learned she would pass from them to the Father. The last words her lips formed were the words of the Our Father which she said with Mother Agnes and the infirmarian. At 12:30 a.m. on July 21, 2000, the strong God to Whom she had surrendered herself came and took her to Himself.