Linn St. George teacher bolsters faith with science, social studies

Attributes his longevity to community’s prayers, support


It’s no “Mr. E” how “Mr. M” has been able to keep on doing the Lord’s work for all these years at St. George School in Linn.

“I’ve been lifted up and carried by prayers and support of the great staff here, the whole school community, the parish, the pastors, the students, and of course, my family out in New Jersey,” said Bob Maranowski, the middle-school science and social studies teacher at St. George.

 “They literally carried me,” said Mr. Maranowski, who has been going by “Mr. M” for as long as he’s been at the front of a classroom. “They’ve been really good to me. That helped me stay at this for a long time.”

He maintains that his job as a Catholic educator is to help build up the whole student — soul, mind and body — by integrating faith concepts into secular subject areas.

“I believe that the key components of faith can be achieved through those secular subjects of science and social studies, which I am teaching this year to sixth- through eighth-graders,” he stated.

He believes that by imparting facts and knowledge revealed in science and social studies, he will be able to reinforce his students’ understanding of the unchanging, objective truth contained in Catholic doctrine.

At the same time, “by incorporating faith principals into daily activities, I am hoping that my students leave my class with a stronger relationship with God,” he said.

He emphasized that the hallways and classrooms of St. George School are overflowing with stories more interesting than his own.

For example, “we have a teacher here who has taught in Europe, who has taught in the Middle East, taught in Russia,” he noted, referring to Jennifer Gast, who has been teaching middle-school science and math at the school for the past two years.

He and his colleagues are united in a mission that dates back not only to 1883, when School Sisters of Notre Dame welcomed the first students to St. George School, but to Apostolic Times, when Jesus’s first followers began handing on the Catholic and apostolic faith.

“When you look at it that way, my story is very brief,” said Mr. Maranowski. “I love my work and I love working in the diocese. I plug away year after year and enjoy what I do in the presence of my students and the parish and the staff and the whole school community.”

Mr. Maranowski grew up in New Jersey. He began teaching at St. George in 1970, after receiving his degree in history and education from St. Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, Indiana.

His experience there as an undergraduate convinced him that he wanted to teach in a Catholic school.

“I like Catholic schools,” he said. “I like their philosophy. I like the values they teach. I like the fact that every teacher I’ve had — and principals and administrators — have always tried to live the message of Jesus.

“I see that in the interaction of our teachers, our principal and our staff, as well as the parents,” he said. “They’ve always been supportive, and the kids have been great.”

He has heard people say they would never teach the junior-high grades because of all the challenges students that age are facing.

“But I find them to be very interesting and fun to teach and be around,” he said. “I enjoy engaging them in learning, motivating them and seeing them respond.”

The Catholic Missourian in 2008 published an article about what Mr. Maranowski considers to be his miraculous recovery from pneumonia and an infection that was shutting down his liver and kidneys and poisoning his blood.

He hadn’t missed a full day of school in years when the infection took hold in October of 2007.

Within 24 hours, he was unconscious and hooked up to a ventilator in the Intensive Care Unit of the old St. Mary’s Health Center in Jefferson City.

Doctors had placed him in a medically-induced coma and were estimating his chances of survival at 1 in 10.

That’s when three generations of students, parents, parishioners and other members of the community gathered in St. George Church to storm the gates of heaven with prayer.

“He is an icon. There would have been a real emptiness here without him,” Kelly McReynolds, a fellow St. George teacher, told The Catholic Missourian in 2008.

She is one of hundreds of Mr. Maranowski’s former students.

The prayers continued. Signs around town urged residents and passers-through to “Pray for Mr. M.”

Twice, he almost died. Twice, his doctors were able to save him.

The prayers and cards kept coming in the months after he regained consciousness and began fighting to regain his health.

By the time he returned to work, some of his doctors and nurses were calling him a “miracle man.”

“Prayer does work!” he said in response. “Nothing is impossible with God!”

Now, having taught children and even grandchildren of some of his former students, Mr. Maranowski plays down his longevity at the school.

“I don’t want to feel old!” he said.

Nonetheless, he is grateful for having been able to continue doing exactly what he’s always wanted to do.

“The Catholic school system is beautiful, and I love the people here at St. George and in Linn,” he said.