Photo, left to right: Sister Mariella Hathorn, OSB, Nurse Jeannie Silas, and Sister Victoria Marconi, OSB, returning from their March 2019 road trip to Pennsylvania.
Having not returned to visit St. Mary’s, PA since 2014, Sister Victoria Marconi, OSB, at age 96, wanted to make the trip sooner than later. She asked the head nurse in our St. Joseph Court Infirmary, Jeannie Silas, if she would drive her to St. Mary’s, PA to visit her family, friends, and parishioners and Jeannie enthusiastically agreed! Sister Mariella Hathorn, OSB asked to join in on the road trip so she too could visit with her family.
Photo, left to right: Sister Mariella and her sister, and Sister Victoria with her two sisters in Pennsylvania, March 2019.
Once Jeannie and Sister Victoria arrived in Pennsylvania they visited with her biological sisters, Loretta and Mary Louise (pictured right) and attended mass at Sacred Heart Parish. One of the highlights of the trip was the luncheon where over 100 parishioners came to see Sister Victoria. This journey of reuniting with family and friends naturally takes us down memory lane of how Sisters Victoria and Mariella began as Benedictine Sisters of St. Joseph Monastery and share a special friendship.
Photo: St. Joseph Monastery sign in St. Mary's, PA home of the first Benedictine Sisters in the United States.
Sister Victoria was born in St. Mary's, Pennsylvania and the eldest child to Italian immigrant parents who went on to have 5 other children: John, Liz, Loretta, Mary Louise, and Theresa. Unfortunately, when Sister Victoria was 15, her youngest sister Theresa died at four and a half years old of appendicitis. It is the loss of her baby sister Theresa that still brings tears to Sister Victoria's eyes today.
Photo: Marconi family headstones in St. Mary's, PA.
Shortly after Theresa died, Sister Victoria recounts, Sister Mariella's older biological sister and her in the stroller, visited the Marconi home. (Sister Mariella was also born and raised in St. Mary's, PA). It was at this visit that Sister Victoria asked God if she could prayerfully adopt Sister Mariella as her "sister" since Theresa had gone to God. Sister Victoria also prayed that Sister Mariella would have a vocation to join the Benedictine Sisters at St. Joseph Monastery in St. Mary's, PA, the founding monastery of Benedictine women in America. Her prayers were answered.
Photo, left to right: Sister Mariella Hathorn, OSB, and Sister Victoria Marconi, OSB, way back when in Pennsylvania.
Sister Victoria never told Sister Mariella she was praying for her all her life. Sister Victoria entered the Benedictine community at age 21 in 1945 and Sister Mariella entered in 1959 at age 18. When they were both missioned to Warren, PA to teach elementary school, Sister Victoria finally shared with Sister Mariella she "adopted" her at the age of 2 and a lifelong friendship in community was solidified.
After many years as an elementary school teacher and prioress of the community, Sister Mariella transferred from St. Joseph's Monastery (St. Mary’s, PA) to St. Scholastica (Chicago) in the 1990s. However, Sister Victoria couldn't leave St. Mary's as she loved the people she served so deeply. Unfortunately, when the Benedictine community at St. Joseph’s Monastery came to completion in 2014, Sister Victoria and the other remaining sisters needed to transfer to other Benedictine Communities. Since Sister Victoria spent most of her life serving as a Benedictine Sister in and around St. Mary’s, PA and did not travel, she wasn’t sure where to go. Fortunately, she remembered her dear friend Sister Mariella, now in Chicago, and decided to transfer to the Benedictine Sisters of Chicago in 2014 at the age of 92.
Enjoy this gallery of photos from Sister Victoria, Nurse Jeannie and Sister Mariella's recent trip to Pennsylvania in March.
***Special thank you to Nurse Jeannie Silas and all the good people of Pennsylvania who came to visit with Sister Victoria at her reception.