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Family, faith and fidelity: the legacies of Sister Virginia Anne

Family, faith and fidelity: the legacies of Sister Virginia Anne - (05-05-2024)

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Benedictine Sister of Perpetual Adoration Virginia Anne Argenziano died May 3, 2024.

She was born the ninth and last child of Giuseppe and Angelina DiMaio Argenziano on Aug. 12, 1936, in Montclair, New Jersey. She joined five sisters and three brothers. Both parents were born in Italy and emigrated to the United States in the early 1900s. Arriving at Ellis Island, they met in Montclair within the year of her mother’s arrival. Having run away from home at 15, her father lost contact with his family, but her mother, a native of Calitri, maintained connections with her relatives.

The family moved from a predominantly Italian neighborhood when Ginny was about 2 years old. After two more moves, her parents bought their first home, a roomy Victorian house with gingerbread trim. Ginny and her brother Mike, three years older, spent a good deal of time together as the others left to marry or to join the military. Ginny attended public schools for the first 10 years. Then she went to Immaculate Conception High School for her junior and senior years. Her brother Joseph was killed in action, the first casualty of the Korean War from New Jersey. Shortly afterward, the family moved to a new home. Ginny was alone with her parents during this time, as Mike was in college and later joined the military.

When Ginny was 21, a friend asked her to attend a weekend retreat for those who thought they might be interested in pursuing a religious vocation. The retreat was held at a Passionist monastery and was directed by Father Andrew Ansbro, CP. She told Father Andrew that she could only be a Benedictine and did not want to teach. Father Andrew referred her to the Benedictine Sisters’ Congregation.

Ginny entered the Congregation on Aug. 22, 1958. As a novice, she worked at baking altar breads and in the kitchen. She made her first profession on March 12, 1960, receiving the name of Sister Mary Marmion and made her final vows on March 12, 1966.

She was assigned to the printery, where she set type and was responsible for the layout and design of “Tabernacle and Purgatory,” which was soon to become “Spirit&Life” magazine. She took joy in designing the first overall layout change in the magazine since its beginning and in setting the type for the first set of English office books.

Sister Ginny’s first transfer was to the Congregation’s San Diego monastery where she served as subprioress. She spent one year with the Trappistines at Redwoods Monastery when they requested help. Shortly after her return, she was appointed novice director and moved to the St. Louis monastery. In 1974 she attended the Institute for Religious Formation at Saint Louis University. Upon completion of that program, Sister Ginny gave retreats and spiritual direction. She was appointed to be junior director and then postulant director.

In February 1977 Sister Ginny requested and was given a leave of absence. She was given a dispensation from her vows in 1979. She worked for an international insurance company from 1977 to 1989 in positions of administration and management. As director of human resources, she was relocated to San Francisco, Atlanta, Charlotte, New York and Boston throughout that time.

During her years away from the Congregation, Ginny’s heart remained with the Sisters. She left her company, spent a sabbatical year with her family and then requested and was accepted for re-entrance into the Congregation. She spent a year of re-orientation before again making her first profession on Dec. 15, 1990, in St. Louis. She was kitchen manager before going to the Tucson monastery to re-establish, along with Sister Dolores Dowling, OSB, the Benedictine Publications Center. She was again responsible for the layout and design of “Spirit&Life” and served as its assistant editor. She made her final profession in Tucson on Dec. 11, 1993.

In 1998 Sister Ginny was elected prioress of the St. Louis monastery. After its closure in 2001, she established the human resources department in Clyde and served as the director of transfer Sisters. In 2002 she was elected as assistant prioress general. From 2006 to 2014, she served as administrator of the healthcare facility, Our Lady of Rickenbach.

Sister Ginny spent the last few years as a resident of OLR. Until shortly before her death, she exercised her artistic talent by designing beautiful cards upon request. Death came peacefully in the morning on May 3, 2024. Prioress General Sister Dawn Annette Mills, OSB, Sister Joan Therese Anderson, OSB, and a nurse were with her. Sister Dawn Annette sang the suscipe when Sister Ginny drew her last breath, “Receive me, O Lord, as you have promised and I shall live, and do not disappoint me in my hope.”

Sister Ginny is survived by her brother, Mike, nieces and nephews, and her monastic family. Abbot Benedict Neenan, OSB, of Conception Abbey will preside at her funeral liturgy scheduled for May 8, 2024, at the Benedictine Sisters’ Adoration Chapel. Burial will follow at Mount Calvary Cemetery in Clyde.