News Release #19


CONTACT: Lydia Szyjka
610-647-4400, Ext. 3143


Former director of housekeeping at Immaculata University, Sister Maria Florita, IHM, age 96, died of natural causes at Camilla Hall on Saturday, August 16, 2003. A respected and beloved member of the university community, Sister spent most of her life tending to the needs of the students, faculty, staff, parents, and alumni at Immaculata.

Sister Florita, born in Fawans, Termon, County Donegal, Ireland, was the former Mary Murray and the daughter of Hugh and Bridget Murray. She attended Termon National School before immigrating to the United States at the age of 19. At age 21, she entered the Congregation of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Following her postulate and novitiate, Sister Florita was assigned to St. Anthony of Padua School in South Philadelphia. Two years later, in 1934, she was sent to Immaculata University, where she spent almost 60 years as director of housekeeping prior to her being assigned to Camilla Hall in 1994.

While at Immaculata, Sister Florita, a tiny, petite woman, prepared snacks for trustees and alumnae meetings, arranged flowers, dusted and swept the university halls and classrooms, served visitors, and baked cookies. Friends of the university raved about the culinary delicacies set before them at a meeting or a workshop. Sister also oversaw the Christmas decorations for the entire university. In fact, pine cone wreaths made by Sister Florita are still being used to decorate the doors of Immaculata.

In April 1980, the Immaculata College Alumnae/i Association inducted Sister into its organization as an honorary member. On May 22, 1983, Sister received the prestigious Immaculata Medal, at commencement ceremonies. This award is presented to men and women whose lives are consistent with the highest values and aspirations of Catholic education. Among the recipients have been Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Walter Annenberg, and His Eminence John Cardinal Krol.

According to Sister Marian William, IHM, former president of Immaculata from 1982-1992, in her remarks at the commencement ceremony, "Sister Florita has given herself unstintingly to the college. And that precious gift has been given, not out of a sense of obligation, not in a perfunctory manner, but with warmth, affection, and quiet enthusiasm."
Sister is survived by one brother who lives in Ireland, and a sister-in-law living in Newtown Square.

A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, August 19, 2003, at Camilla Hall with a viewing for family and friends on Monday, August 18, 2003, after 2:00 p.m. at Camilla Hall, Immaculata, Pennsylvania. Arrangements were handled by DellaVecchia, Reilly & Smith Funeral Home Inc., West Chester.

Immaculata University, a Catholic liberal arts institution, is located 20 miles west of Philadelphia, south of the intersection of routes 30 and 352, between Paoli and Exton.

z:word/releases/Obituary for Maria Florita #19

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