Our dear Sister Victoria died peacefully, yet unanticipated, on November 5, 2020, of natural causes, at St. Joseph Infirmary (St. Scholastica Monastery). Lorenzia (Sister Victoria) Marconi was the first of the six children of John Joseph and Catherine Ortenzi Marconi. Not long after her 21st birthday, Lorenzia entered the Benedictine Sisters of Elk County at St. Joseph Monastery in January of 1944. At the time of her reception, on July 11, 1944, she received the name Sister Victoria Marie. She professed first vows on July 12, 1945. Her perpetual profession was August 24, 1948. The Rite of Consecration of Virgins was reintroduced in the time of Pope Pius XII around 1950 and Sister Victoria engaged in this Rite on the 13th anniversary of her vows. Her 69 years of active ministry, were mostly in education to first graders, but extensive journaling and numerous essays attest to her writing skills. In 2013, when it was discerned that the Sisters at the Saint Joseph Monastery in St. Marys could no longer remain as an independent community, each Sister was free to choose where to transfer her stability. Sister Victoria at that time decided to join the Benedictine Sisters of Chicago and began her first year of residence in St. Joseph Court. Sister Victoria will be remembered for being a self-aware and humble person, who was able to forgive. Her welcoming personality caused her to be someone who was loved by many people. She had a good memory and held each new acquaintance as a friend. She passed into the loving arms of God and the Sisters who have gone before her are there to welcome her. We invite you to learn more about Sister Victoria in the following biography written by Sister Benita Coffey, OSB.
Sister Victoria Marconi, OSB, on July 11, 1945, in full Benedictine Habit with her cousin.
Lorenzia Marconi born December 17, 1922, was quite small and frail at birth, so was baptized that very day. She was the first of the six children of John Joseph and Catherine Ortenzi Marconi. After her brother John’s birth five years later, four girls were born: Elizabeth, Loretta, Mary Louise, and Theresa who died at age four. Since in St. Marys, Pennsylvania, the population was predominantly German, the Marconis, an Italian family, were a very small minority and did not always feel welcome.
Nevertheless, it is clear that theirs was truly a faith filled family. Times were hard for them. In spite of the death of one child, some accidents and illnesses, as well as some years of near poverty, the Marconis believed in the power of prayer for God’s grace. What might have seemed to others just a change of luck, this family recognized as blessings. Often, they saw healing from illness as miraculous, took joy in how God’s love touched their lives, and prayed often in gratitude.
Sister Mariella Hathorn, OSB with Sister Victoria Marconi, OSB in Pennsylvania.
At five or six years of age, Lorenzia already felt a special calling. As an adult she always remembered being in church one day when she looked at the image of Christ, and said, “Lord, will you marry me? I want you for my husband.”
After completing elementary school, Lorenzia attended Central Catholic High School and graduated in 1940. During the following several years she did accounting work for her father’s business which dealt with the delivery of coal. In addition, she held other positions in the area. That sense of religious life as her special calling had been real however.
Not long after her 21st birthday, Lorenzia entered the Benedictine Sisters of Elk County at St. Joseph Monastery in January of 1944. Again, within this community, she found herself where her Italian heritage was not shared by anyone.
Sister Victoria Marconi, OSB in the modified habit.
Regardless of that fact, Lorenzia, intent on becoming a Benedictine Sister, persevered through the postulancy. At the time of her reception, on July 11, 1944, she received the name Sister Victoria Marie. She professed first vows on July 12, 1945. Her perpetual profession was August 24, 1948.
The Rite of Consecration of Virgins was reintroduced in the time of Pope Pius XII around 1950. It was an option offered to women religious and also to lay women who desired to permanently dedicate their virginity to God’s service within the church.
St. Joseph Monastery offered this option for its members. Sister Victoria engaged in this Rite on the 13th anniversary of her vows.
Sister Victoria Marconi, OSB (bottom right) transferred her vows to St. Scholastica Monastery in 2014 after St. Joseph Monastery, St. Marys, PA closed.
Sister Victoria attended St. Vincent College and Villanova University. Her bachelor of science degree is in education. Her 69 years of active ministry, were mostly in that field, but extensive journaling and numerous essays attest to her writing skills. Faith and Stories is a booklet of over thirty pages rich with family as well as personal history. As an avid correspondent, she was able to touch countless lives because she knew of the importance of welcoming people with the gift of her time. Both her family’s background and her own experiences of feeling unwelcome had taught her much. Letter writing had become an ideal way to reach out and bring to others peace, true support, consolation, and a sense of being valued. Yes, she definitely was a writer, but teaching was where she excelled.
As an obedient young Benedictine, Sister Victoria began her many years of active ministry. In love with God, she was ready to accept whatever position was assigned. As years went on, her skill for teaching the very young was recognized, so most of her positions were instructing first graders, though now and again, when there was a need to fill, she willingly served in middle grades. All of her assignments were to Catholic Parish schools in Pennsylvania.
Sister Victoria Marconi, OSB pictured at Community Days with several Chicago Benedictines summer 2018.
St. Marys Parochial School was her first assignment and this was a place where she returned to teach later. She also served twice at St. Joseph in Lucinda, and at Sacred Heart Parochial in St. Marys. She was once on the faculty at St. Callistus in Kane, and St. Boniface in Kersey. Her last and longest period of ministry was at St. Joseph in Warren.
The community administration chose Sister Victoria to work closely with women who were seeking to join the community. She was in charge of the aspirants from 1960 until 1969 and also directed the Novitiate during four of those years.
Sister Victoria Marconi, OSB with her sisters, Elizabeth, Loretta, and Mary Louise.
Until 1975, Sister Victoria had never done much, if any, traveling, and during July of that year, she had her first plane trip. She went to Italy with her sister Elizabeth to visit the homeland of her parents. It was the opportunity to meet the many relatives still there, as well as to visit the places where Saints Benedict and Scholastica had lived.
Sister Victoria Marconi, OSB with Sister Margaret Ann, OSB at music class.
During the twenty-five years after her teaching career ended, Sister Victoria helped with pre-school and kindergarten and also performed needed tasks within the monastery. At this time, she created “Lunch with the Lord,” a speakers program that brought people together and also served lunch. This was an enriching experience for many and expanded Sister Victoria’s influence. She corresponded with many friends from all of her ministries.
Sister Victoria Marconi, OSB at her 75th Jubilee mass on July 11, 2020.
In 2013, when it was discerned that the Sisters at the Saint Joseph Monastery in St. Marys could no longer remain as an independent community, each Sister was free to choose where to transfer her stability. Sister Victoria at that time decided to join the Benedictine Sisters of Chicago and began her first year of residence in St. Joseph Court. The transfer of her vows took place in 2014.
In 2015 Sister Victoria celebrated the 70th anniversary of her vows which was then celebrated with a relaxing car trip home to St. Marys. Her jubilee in 2020 marked 75 years.
Sister Victoria Marconi, OSB celebrates her 75th Jubilee with Sister Mariella Hathorn, OSB.
Sister Victoria was a self-aware and humble person, who was able to forgive. Her welcoming personality caused her to be someone who was loved by many people. She had a good memory and held each new acquaintance as a friend. She was anxious to learn as much as she could about her new Chicago community and her fidelity to prayer and common life was exemplary. “Thank you” were words that when spoken by Sister Victoria were never automatic but genuine and sincere.
Sister Victoria dealt with ill health but never drew attention to it. For that reason, when, on November 5, she died in the early morning, it seemed unexpected. She went forward to God’s embrace. As she herself understood and described death, she has finally experienced it. In joy, Sister Victoria, is “seeing the face of God”. She is mourned by Mary Louise Reuscher, her only living sibling, many nieces and nephews, extended family, and her Benedictine Sisters at Saint St. Scholastica Monastery in Chicago.
Her funeral and interment will take place in St. Marys, Pennsylvania.
To read the reflection given at her wake by Sister Judith Murphy, Prioress, click here.