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Remembering Sister Margarita Walters, OSB

Updated: Dec 5, 2022

Our dear Sister Margarita Walters, OSB passed away peacefully on the evening of Sunday, November 20th. We thank God for her life and the impact she had on our community. She passed into the loving arms of God, and the Sisters who have gone before her are there to welcome her. The Wake for Sister Margarita will be held Friday December 2nd from 3:00-5:00 p.m. at St. Scholastica Chapel. The Mass of Resurrection for Sister Margarita will be held Saturday, December 3rd at 9:30 a.m. following the Wake prior to the funeral Mass from 9:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. at St. Scholastica Chapel. If you would like to join us virtually, please use the following Zoom ID and passcode: Meeting ID: 822 4589 4255 Passcode: 546316. Please join us in thanking God for her remarkable life!

Funeral Worship Aid_Sister Margarita Walters, OSB
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Margarita Mella St. Scholastica Academy senior portrait 1956.

Margarita was born in New York City, on April 21, 1939, the first child of John Anthony and Katherine Moos Mella. She was baptized on May 7. The Mellas had seven more children; in all, there were three girls and five boys.

When Margarita was old enough to attend elementary school, the family had relocated and were living in Wilmette, Illinois, and they became parishioners of St. Joseph Parish and she was enrolled in St. Joseph School. After graduating in 1952, she enrolled at Saint Scholastica High School in Rogers Park. Margarita graduated from SSA in 1956.

Her teenage boyfriend, Dale Burks, joined the Marines, and his family invited Margarita to visit him in southern California. Thus began several decades of her life in that area. She and Dale married, not long before he was shipped overseas. Three years after his return home, she gave birth to their first daughter, followed by two more children.

She and Dale divorced. Thereafter she raised those three alone, while working two jobs.

Subsequently, good friends introduced her to Ron Walters. She and Ron fell in love and had a long marriage. This relationship brought her two step-children. Her first children were now young adults. She and Ron had two more children together. He worked long hours and spent extended time away.

Sister Margarita Walters, OSB (right) with Sister Kathleen McNamara, OSB.

During this time things were changing for her. She developed a devotion to Saint Teresa of Avila. Subsequently she joined the local Secular Carmelites and began to spend time each day in silent prayer. In a dream about St. Teresa of Avila, Margarita sensed strength from her when the saint assured her of God’s loving care, reminding her that “everything is from His hand.”

That long marriage ended with Ron’s death, and Margarita was now a widowed mother of five, and step-mother of two. She worked in marketing, was a sales executive, and also was an active member in her parish.

With a recurring feeling that there was more to life, she did much serious soul searching, and became convinced that she was being “called to become a member of some religious community”.

Margarita, assisted by a Jesuit spiritual director, spent two years getting to know the Sisters of the well-known Carmelite Monastery of Long Beach. Yet on the very day she entered there, she felt it was not right for her. She stayed, trying for a year to be a good Carmelite. She learned a great deal about herself and about living with a group of people, but left after that period.

She later joined an order of nuns that took her to Italy, but again she realized that life in that small overseas community was not the correct choice for her either. Again, she went back to work in the business world. Her mother suggested she might give consideration to the Benedictine Sisters of Chicago.

Sister Margarita Walters, OSB taking a break from her Development Office duties to smile for the camera.

Margarita did that. After some time, she became an affiliate of the Benedictine community in April, 1994.

After a year of guidance and discernment, Margarita entered the Benedictine Sisters of Chicago at Saint Scholastica Monastery on June 4, 1995 and began a period of postulancy. She was invested as a novice on August 6, 1996. On completing the year of novitiate on August 15, 1997 she professed triennial vows. She made her final commitment in perpetual vows on August 22, 2000. Margarita’s many successful years in business helped her develop flexibility and skills to assume various ministerial positions as a member of the Benedictine community. While she was an affiliate, she served as Director of Alumnae Relations. After joining the community, she served as Director of the Development Office for SSA. Following her profession of vows, she served as the Vocation Minister for the community.

Her creativity served Margarita well in this position, and she brought her own experience and appreciation for the importance of prayerful discernment.

Among other things, she planned and executed a Benedictine Life Weekend at St. Scholastica Academy in Cañon City, Colorado, and presented a “Thinking of Religious Life Day” at Providence High School in New Lenox, Illinois.

Sister Margarita Walters, OSB (center) with Cardinal Cupich at St. Scholastica Chapel.

In 2005 she asked for a leave of absence from community and lived away, closer to her children, from 2006 until 2010. When she returned, she was employed for the next two years as the Office Manager of Light Quarterly, a magazine founded by her brother John Mella.

Sister Margarita Walters, OSB with the Benedictine Sisters of Chicago at community prayer.

From 2012 until 2018, Margarita served as Housekeeping Manager at St. Scholastica Monastery. In 2018 change in her health required that she begin to reside in the monastery’s infirmary wing, St. Joseph Court. She took on various duties there while she could.

Sister Margarita Walters, OSB bottom right with the Benedictine Sisters bestowing a blessing of gratitude at the 2021 Donor Appreciation Mass.

In the summer of 2022, Margarita joyfully celebrated her Silver Jubilee in the community. Soon afterwards, her health declined and she was provided hospice and palliative care. She died peacefully on November 20, 2022.

Sister Margarita Walters, OSB (bottom left) celebrating her Jubilee, July 2022.

Margarita was mother of Debi Mella, Dale Burks, Katherine Bond, Rebecca (Rex) Hatch, Jason (Tatjana) Walters, and step-mother of Debbie Sullivan and Steven Walters. She was grandmother and great-grandmother to many. She was sister of the late John Mella, the late William (Cindy) Mella, Katherine (Robert) Sherman, Michael (Lisa) Mella, Mary (the late Edward) Mella, Philip (Nancy) Mella, and Joseph (Su) Mella. These siblings, with nieces, nephews, cousins and good friends mourn her passing, together with her Benedictine Sisters and the Oblates of St. Scholastica Monastery in Chicago.

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