Sister Maria Raphaela Patrone

Sister Maria Raphaela Patrone died on January 11, 2024, and was buried on January 18, 2024 at Saint Joseph Villa. Florence grew up in Vineland, New Jersey, and along with her two sisters and one brother experienced a farming community. Tomatoes and corn and many vegetables were a large part of her childhood. Florence met up with the Sisters of Saint Joseph at Sacred Heart High School. There she discovered her love of music in all forms. She especially was attracted to musical theatre. However, another influence came into her life, and she felt “pushed by God” to the Sisters of Saint Joseph. Initially, resisting the inclination, Florence eventually gave in and entered the Congregation in September 1955. Upon her reception, she took the name Maria Raphaela to honor both of her parents.

Maria began her teaching ministry at Holy Name School in Camden, New Jersey, and from there discovered her love for music and especially the African American Culture. Serving in a plethora of these parishes nurtured Maria’s love for the lyrics and rhythms of the people she embraced. After thirty years of music ministry, Maria felt the call to enter the challenge of faith formation of both adults and young children. She experienced great success in this ministry, and one year had 44 catechumens enter the Church. Maria embodied the principle stated in our Constitutions, “to be both giver and receiver.” Not only did she give her students knowledge of music  but  also she shared her love of music with them. Often she would be heard singing in the halls of her school or even at our Villa.

For the past ten years, Maria has experienced many physical limitations, but her spirit and her song remained strong. As she so often invoked, “Let us give God the Glory” now her song continues in eternity.