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Pierina (Rina) Ronconi, RSCJ

Sister Rina Ronconi

Birth: November 6, 1913
Profession: April 22, 1941
Death: July 24, 2014

Religious of the Sacred Heart Pierina Maria Pia Ronconi died Thursday, July 24, at Oakwood, the Society of the Sacred Heart’s elder care center in Atherton, California. Remembered as prayerful, faithful and cheerful, she will be missed by her sisters in the Society of the Sacred Heart, and all who knew her, including the staff at Oakwood, who took such loving care of her in her final years. Her funeral will be a Mass of Christian Burial on Saturday, September 6th at 10:00 am, celebrated by retired Archbishop John Quinn. Burial will follow in the Sacred Heart cemetary at Oakwood.

Born on November 6, 1913, in the town of Morino, Italy, Pierina was the sixth of seven children born to Michele and Carmela Lee Russo Ronconi. At the age of 100, she was preceded in death by all of her siblings and their children. She is survived by her niece Marie’s husband, Daniel Williams of New Rochelle, New York; three grand-nieces: Cheryl Tortora, Ann Williams and Cynthia Ronconi. a grand nephew, Thomas Donahue, and a number of great-grand-nieces and nephews and their children, as well as more than 2,000 Religious of the Sacred Heart around the world.

Known to all as “Rina,” she grew up knowing she had a call to the religious life. “I guess my vocation to religious life was born with me,” she said. She also had a particular devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. She entered the Society of the Sacred Heart at the Trinita dei Monti in Rome in 1931. Her final profession was at the Society motherhouse Rome, April 22, 1941.

Although a very bright student, Rina’s education was interrupted at an early age because her town had a school only up to the fifth grade, and her father would not permit his young daughter to travel the 45 minutes by train to the nearest school. So she learned the trade of dressmaking—a skill she found invaluable in later years.

Sister Ronconi moved to Florence in September, 1931 to become a novice. After making first vows on September 29, 1934, she was sent back to the Trinita dei Monti, where, in her own words, “she enjoyed being under the same roof as Mater Admirabilis until August 1943.” She put her dressmaking skills to use making habits.

Sister Ronconi lived through the terrifying days of World War II, when, day and night, planes dropped bombs on the city. Her convent even harbored high-ranking officials being sought by the German Army. The war delayed Sister Ronconi’s dream of becoming a missionary until 1953, when she was at last able to begin the service she felt called to do, but her “mission” was in the United States.

From 1953 through 1964 Sister Ronconi served in the vestry and the children’s cafeteria at Sacred Heart School in Menlo Park, California. In 1964, she moved to Sacred Heart School in El Cajon, California, she made habits and later, assisted the province with the transition from habits to secular attire. During this time she also completed her high school degree and took many courses. She became a United States citizen in 1961.

Sister Ronconi moved to the Convent of the Sacred Heart (Broadway) in San Francisco, to work in the library and the publications and administration offices. She availed herself of lectures at the university nearby, joined the Fromm institute, and took more than fifty college level courses in subjects ranging from math to health science. She was fluent in English, French and Spanish, in addition to her native Italian. She enjoyed being active in her local communities.

Sister Ronconi moved to Oakwood in 2001 and celebrated her 100th birthday there last year.

Comments

Submitted by Jeanne Asdourian on

I am so sorry to hear about Sr. Ronconi's passing. She was here on Broadway for so many years! We enjoyed speaking Italian whenever we saw each other. She was a warm, loving face of the RSCJ community. I will sincerely miss Sr. Ronconi, though I know she is with Our Lord, whom she so loved. May she rest in peace.

Submitted by ANATOLIA MILANE... on

I wish I had been informed of the passing of my dearest great aunt zia Pierina earlier. All her extended family in Italy can now offer their prayers for her soul.
I got to know zia Pierina as a child when she came on holiday to Sicily. She was a woman of great interest and her "American ways" were very noticeable and she appeared to me as quiet an extravagant woman. When years later I came to live here in London we often wrote to each other and then in 1994 during the last of her trips to Italy she surprised me by stopping in London and stayed with me and my husband Frank. We are very honoured to have had the chance to meet her. We went sightseeing in London and although zia was 81 years of age at that time, you could never tell, we were in our early 20s and she was fitter than us. She was very inspiring to us, telling us of her very active and rich life, of her studies and the courses she was attending, like Astronomy!! We are proud of what she has achieved during her life and we will always remember her as the influential, loving person who was able to touch people with her words of wisdom and smile. May she rest in peace.

Submitted by ROBERTO MILANESE on

Ho pochi ricordi della cara Zia Pierina, perlopiù legati alla mia infanzia, ma in tutti la rivedo come una Zia per cui provavo tanto affetto e stima. Era una persona molto affettuosa, allegra ed interessante oltre che molto colta. Sempre lucida, anche fino all'età più avanzata, ricordava tutto di tutti. Nello scambio epistolare tra me e lei che vi è sempre stato, anche se con lettere e comunicazioni sempre più rade, ha sempre mostrato interesse per me e le mia famiglia. Ha sempre pregato per il bene nostro ed io ho sempre apprezzato ciò. Era una donna piena d'amore che sapeva infondere gioia e speranza. Oltre le sue lettere e le foto, che custodisco preziosamente, mi rimangono di lei 2 cari ricordi: un cane peluche ed un borsellino in pelle. Avevo circa 5 anni quando me li ha regalati in occasione di una delle sue visite in Sicilia dove allora vivevo. Sono trascorsi 36 anni da allora ma ancora ricordo il momento in cui me li ha donati. Cara Zia, mi spiace non avere avuto più la possibilità di vederti ma i tuoi ricordi rimarranno sempre vivi in me. Riposa in pace. Con grande affetto Roberto Milanese.

Submitted by SERGIO MILANESE on

Non dimenticherò mai la dignità della vita semplice, umile e silenziosa in cui mia Zia Pierina ha vissuto....ero ancora ragazzino quando ho avuto il privilegio di conoscerti....ricordo ancoro le nostre conversazioni in lingua inglese....ho apprezzato tanto la tua bontà' d' animo....il tuo spiccato ottimismo...la tua completa dedizione di amore in Gesu' Cristo....una donna docile ma allo stesso tempo forte, determinata....infinitamente generosa e tanto buona così' come lo era sua sorella...la nostra cara Nonna Anatolia....ricordo ancora quei momenti gioiosi in cui aprivo quelle tue lettere provenienti dalla California e che inviavi in Italia a Palermo...a mia mamma....dandole coraggio e infondendole fiducia.
Ringrazio vivamente tutte quelle persone che si sono prese cura di Te e che ti hanno assistito negli ultimi anni di vita.
Cara Zia hai amato tanto Nostro Signore Gesu' cosicché' in Gesu' riavrai la vita.....sei una stella che continuerà' a brillare in eterno..mancherai tanto a tutti noi ma resterai sempre viva nei nostri ricordi e nei nostri cuori.
Con grande affetto, stima e amore, tuo nipote SERGIO MILANESE.

Submitted by AMELIA LA ROCCA... on

Ti ricordo cara zia Pierina, come una persona affettuosa e precisa, specialmente nel rispondere sempre e subito alle lettere che ti mandavo, e ricordo che in ogni lettera c'era una tua fotografia. Ricordo ancora il vestitino e la camicetta che mi hai regalato e che mi stavano d'incanto. Rammento ancora, anche le due uniche volte che sei venuta a Palermo, ti piaceva cucinare e ti piaciuto visitare la città e i suoi monumenti, in particolar modo il Santuario di Santa Rosalia a Monte pellegrino, dove andammo con tutta la mia famiglia.
Ringrazio sempre di essere stata nelle tue preghiere per la mia famiglia. Adesso le ricambio per la tua anima che possa godersi il Santo Paradiso vicina a nostro Signore Gesù Cristo.
Con grande Cordoglio tua nipote AMELIA LA ROCCA in MILANESE.