SAN ANTONIO – Sister Margaret Ann Laechelin didn’t plan on getting so much attention when she picked up a chainsaw Tuesday to help clear debris from Hurricane Irma in Miami, where she’s the principal of Archbishop Coleman F. Carroll High School. She just did what needed to be done.
“It’s about the love that God puts in our hearts, and we naturally want to share it with one another,” she said. “Our students at school are very excited. They say, ‘Sister, you’re famous and all.’ But they keep coming back, too, to help us to clean up the campus, so it’s a beautiful thing.”
“That’s just the way she is,” added her brother Kenneth, who lives outside San Antonio. “She’s always been one to get in and help. You don’t have to ask her.”
Laechelin grew up near where her brother now lives and graduated from East Central High School before getting her degree at St. Mary’s University. She taught and coached at Madison and Holmes high schools before she left to serve as a nun.
“It was working with the students and their desire to know the truth that helped me to discover my vocation to religious life,” she said.
Photos taken of her clearing debris went viral and she’s been interviewed by several networks, but Laechelin admits she had to brush up on her chainsaw skills.
“I had to go to Google and watch a little video on how to start it because I didn’t remember how,” she said.
“She’s used weeders and stuff in the past, but it’s not something she does every day anymore, you might say,” Kenneth said.
Others have certainly taken notice. Laechelin received an email from a man in Canada who sent her a new chainsaw, saying the one she had was outdated. Another chainsaw came in the mail the next day from someone in Arizona.
“In many aspects, this little video of me using a chainsaw has gotten kind of crazy, but it’s turned out to be very good for a lot of people, I think,” she said. “They want to see a sign of hope. That even in the midst of a tragedy, like a hurricane, they want to see that there is goodness, and goodness can come from a tragedy.”