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photos of Sister Maria Emelita Refugia

Sister Maria Emelita Refugia
Born to earthly life: April 18, 1952
Religious profession: August 15, 1985
Entered eternal life: December 9, 2009

Sister Amy, a faithful friend of God, loved God deeply but knew that her love was only a shadow of God’s faithful love for her. She was looking forward to celebrating that love on her 25th jubilee next year.

Maria Emilita Calub Refugia, her name means beloved, little refuge of God, was known and loved among us as Sister Amy. Amy was born on April 18, 1952, in Quezon City, Philippines. Her mother Aurea and her father Juan were both orphaned at an early age.

Because of that Amy says they taught the entire family many ways of being industrious and creative. Amy was the twelfth of fourteen children.

Amy entered the School Sisters of Notre Dame on Guam in 1982. As part of her preparation for final vows which she celebrated in 1993, Amy came to the United States. She studied theology at Mount Mary and lived with the Mount Mary community.

She helped me and many others in our SSND community live into and celebrate the richness of our internationality. Her Filipino culture meant a lot to her and she was always willing to enrich our lives by it.

What Amy found most difficult in leaving the Philippines was missing the sense of family cohesiveness. Her family has been able to stay connected even though they live in many different parts of the world. Sisters Barbara Pfarr, Ginny Reichard, Walter Marie Ray, and I are also a special part of Amy’s family and have taken calls and emails from her siblings.

Shortly after Amy died, her brother Larry from Saudi Arabia called and wanted to talk with her sister Norma, but also with Barb and me. In the name of their family he wanted to thank the community of School Sisters of Notre Dame for the loving care Amy received during her long illness.

In Wisconsin, Amy worked in the finance department of the School Sisters of Notre Dame for several years. Amy went on for further studies and received her Masters degree in Pastoral ministry from Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. For the last three years she worked as assistant community leader for Theresa II at Elm Grove. Amy enjoyed working with her team, Sisters Marie Estelle, Mary Hope, and Mary Faith and was so grateful for their loving care during her last months.

The theme Amy chose for her jubilee celebration, “I am with you on the journey” is a reminder for all of us that we are not alone. In a message for Cheryl, a dear friend of hers, Amy said, “The best use of life is love, the best expression of love is time, and the best time to love is now.”

Salamat Amy! Thank you for your presence and love, and may your jubilee celebration be forever!

Jan Gregorcich, SSND

Sister Maria Emelita’s ministry locations included:

Sister Maria Emelita is survived by her brothers Miguel, Manuel, Armanda, Alfonso, Virgilio and Lauro, her sisters Rosario, Milagros and Norma, nieces, nephews, other relatives, friends and the SSND Community. She was preceded in death by her brothers Eduardo, Ernesto and Alberto, and her sister Maria Theresa. A Wake Service and Mass of Christian Burial were celebrated Saturday, December 12, at Holy Family Chapel, Notre Dame of Elm Grove.

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