Sister Marie Albert Hetzel died at Saint Joseph Villa on March 9, 2023. She was born January 28, 1931 to parents Albert and Virginia who named her Virginia Claire. Virginia recalled that she never remembered desiring any other life other than becoming a Sister of Saint Joseph. She “loved and admired them” through many years of education, initially at Saint Helena School on Fifth and Godfrey in Philadelphia, Little Flower High School and Chestnut Hill College. In 1948 she entered the Congregation, received the name Sister Marie Albert on her Day of Reception, and was finally professed in August, 1958.
A teacher par excellence, Sister taught throughout the Archdiocese with the exception of ten years in the Charlotte, NC Diocese. Having earned her Ph.D. in Education at Temple University, Sister Marie Albert served as Assistant Superintendent of Philadelphia Archdiocesan Schools in 1980. Her expertise was recognized and valued by her many constituents in the educational field.
Marie, or Dr. Hetzel, as she was occasionally addressed teasingly, was committed as well to her life in community.
She generously used her talents in art, decorating and gardening to serve and delight her sisters for whom she cared and supported lovingly. While experiencing the changes affecting religious life by Vatican Council II, she relied on God’s grace and adapted accordingly. Hers was a deepening, more personal relationship with God, enhanced by daily recitation of the rosary, renewed commitment to communal prayer and faith sharing. Her first directed retreat was life-changing and led to an eventual thirty-day retreat, all of which blessed her with a deep and innate appreciation for a spirituality inspired by Saint Ignatius of Loyola.
Sister Marie Albert’s ministry came full circle in 1988 when she returned for seventeen years as school principal and parish devotee in Saint Helena’s. In 2017 she embraced a ministry of prayer and presence at Saint Joseph Villa. Mindful of the beauty, happiness and fullness of religious life, Sister Marie Albert cherished the words of former Jesuit Superior General, Father Pedro Arrupe:
Nothing is more practical than finding God, than falling in love in a quiet, absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you will do with your evenings, how to spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.
Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything!
Sister Marie Albert, in her “quiet, absolute, final way” has found God for all eternity.