Sister Maria Colabella died on March 19 at the Maryknoll Sisters Center in Maryknoll. She was 78 years old and had been a Maryknoll Sister for 40 years.
Maria was born on May 9, 1940 in Brooklyn to Emelia (Luongo) Colabella and Pasquale Colabella. She had two sisters, Sister Jaqueline Marie, SSND and Geraldine De Luca. Her parents and sisters have all predeceased her.
In 1957, Maria graduated from St. Brendan’s Diocesan High School in Brooklyn. After graduating, she attended Long Island College Hospital School of Nursing in New York where she earned an R.N. diploma in 1960. She then continued her education and attended St. John’s University in Queens, where she earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing in 1964.
From 1965-1967, Maria worked with the Catholic Medical Mission Board in Ado-Ekiti, Nigeria as a Nursing Instructor and Supervisor at Maria Assumpta Hospital. In 1968, she joined the Papal Volunteers for Latin America (volunteer Catholic lay missionaries committed to pastoral and social work in Latin America for short-term service). In preparation for a new assignment, she attended the Catholic University of Puerto Rico for three months to learn Spanish. Maria was then assigned as Nursing Instructor at the Universidad Santa Maria in Arequipa, Peru for four years. She also worked as a public health nurse and pastoral worker in Chimbote, Peru in association with the Dominican Sisters from Columbus, Ohio for two years.
On September 2, 1978, Maria entered the Maryknoll Sisters Novitiate in Maryknoll. She made her First Profession of Vows on June 28, 1980, and her Final Vows on May 22, 1988. She graduated from the Maryknoll Seminary with a Master of Arts Degree in Theology (Religious Studies) on May 27, 1988.
In 1981, Sister Maria received her first mission assignment to Ocotal, Nicaragua where she worked in healthcare and did pastoral work in basic Ecclesial Communities. From 1982 to 1983, she gave Congregational Service at the Maryknoll Sisters Center in the Nursing Home, Center Health Unit and in the Communications Department. In February of 1983, Sister Maria applied for Family Ministry to be near her ill father. During this time, she also worked at Transfiguration Parish in Brooklyn, working in health programs, counseling for Salvadoran refugees and Hispanic teens.
In 1986, she returned to the Maryknoll Sisters Center, NY for health reasons and renewal (period of rest/relaxation at home for Maryknoll Sisters on a mission) until 1988.
In 1989, Sister Maria returned to the Peru/Ecuador Region, however, her health issues necessitated her return to the Maryknoll Sisters Center in 1990.
From 1991 through 2014, she began a ministry in the Brooklyn Diocese and the New York Archdiocese among multicultural communities, until she retired.
A Vespers Service was held on Monday, March 25 in the Chapel of the Annunciation at the Maryknoll Sisters Center, Maryknoll. The Liturgy of Christian burial will be celebrated on Tuesday, March 26, also in the Chapel of the Annunciation. Interment will follow at the Maryknoll Sisters Cemetery on the Maryknoll Center grounds.
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