Sister Catherine Stasi, CSJ
We gather to celebrate the life of Sister Catherine Stasi, formerly Sister Marian Consilio, our wonderful and beloved Stasi, a sister of St. Joseph for 69 faithful and grace-filled years..
We join in prayer today to welcome Stasi’s loving family ~ her treasured nieces and nephews, their family and friends. You have often stated what a gift your Aunt Katie was to you ~ but anyone who knew your aunt always knew how deeply she loved each of you!
We’re grateful that Stasi’s dear friend, Sister Angela Gannon will share a reflection of Stasi’s full and spirited life but I do have to add that in reading Stasi’s correspondence to leadership, it was amusing and so characteristic of Stasi to see two notable comments ~
One in which she urged Sister Clara Santoro to “please slow down” and the other classic words were an invitation to Sister John Raymond to come to the Hamptons ~ and “just bring your loveable self ~ plus your own sheets and towels.”
Oh Stasi, how we loved you!
S. Tesa Fitzgerald, CSJ
It has been said that Gratitude is the Memory of the Heart. And it is in that spirit we gather this morning to remember and to celebrate the life of Aunt Katie [as known to her family] the life of Stasi [as known to the Sisters of St. Joseph] and the life of Sister Catherine Stasi, formerly Sister Marion Consilio, [as known to the students and faculties where she taught or served as Principal]. Actually, I was in the congregation for several years before I found out that Stasi was her family name.
When we remember the life of Aunt Katie and all that she shared with her family, caring is the one word that they use most frequently when describing her. No matter what, they could always count on her presence. Whenever there was a death in the family, whether at 6 am in the morning or 10 pm at night, the family knew that Aunt Katie would be there for them. When her sister Annie was sick for a long period of time, it was Katie who came every weekend to be with her. She in turn, so appreciated her sisters Mary and Annie, her brothers Dino, Nickie,and Stevie and all of their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
When Stasi first came out on a mission in 1955, she was sent to Queen of All Saints in Brooklyn where she had grown up. She was there only one year, and then she was sent to Holy Child, Richmond Hill where her family had moved after she entered the congregation. She told the Director of Novices that her family lived in the parish [ordinarily we were not sent to teach in our home parish or where our families were currently living]. Nevertheless, she was missioned there for 4 years. It was during that time that her nephews, Bobby and Henry, were students in the school. Whenever the boys got in trouble they weren’t sent to the Principal. They were sent to Aunt Katie – and they were more frightened of her than the Principal.
When Aunt Katie’s mother was dying, she made a promise that she would keep the family together. And did she! The annual Christmas Day dinners at St. Bernard’s and the picnic at the end of the summer in Hampton Bays – gave her as much happiness as it did for all who came. I think Stasi enjoyed the preparations as much as the event itself. In the days before Christmas the two of us would go up to Arthur Avenue in the Bronx – index card in hand – and did all the shopping for Christmas dinner. She had a routine – first to O.L. of Mt Carmel Church to light candles for the family, and then to the various stores – same ones year after year. But she loved it – partly because she was faithful to the promise she had made – but bring Stasi into a food store on Arthur Avenue and there was automatic glee.
Indeed all members of the extended Stasi family have reason to rejoice and celebrate this wonderful person and your presence here today is a testimony to the love you have for her and for all she did for you.
We, the Sisters of St. Joseph, also remember and celebrate the life of Stasi who shared sixty-eight years with us. Having lived with Stasi for 25 of those years, I remember her stories about the missions where she served – whether at St. Stans in Maspeth, or the schools in Bedford Stuyvesant – Our Lady of Victory, St. Martin de Porres, and Bedford Stuyvesant Junior High Schools. Stasi was a sister of the neighborhood – always ready for a challenge and the opportunity to serve the dear neighbor. Her years in high school at St. Joseph’s on Bridge Street, Bishop Kearney and Sacred Heart Academy, honed her skills as a math teacher and in later years as the Assistant Treasurer at the Academy of St. Joseph and Sacred Heart Academy.
In 1978 when Stasi was appointed to teach at St. Joseph’s HS she was also named the Administrator of St. Joseph Villa in Hampton Bays – a ministry that would continue for 27 years while Stasi also taught Math or served as an Assistant Treasurer.
It was at the Villa that the wider congregation came to know Stasi. Her hospitality and welcoming spirit greeted all who came for vacation or retreat. That sense of hospitality which was so much part of Stasi and was a hallmark wherever she lived and worked. In her later years at Sacred Heart Convent in Hempstead, even when the words could not come forth, one knew that here was a kind and caring woman who wanted only the best for everyone else.
At St. Joseph’s Villa, Stasi’s gift for organization contributed to a well-run place for rest and renewal. But, make no mistake – when the sign on the door said that the rooms were available beginning at 2 pm – you did not enter at 1:55 pm. And when you took an item off the shelves in the kitchen area – it not only went back on the shelf – it went to the exact space where it belonged. I know Stasi would want to share her gratitude to all the reliefers, those CSJs and friends and family members of the Sisters of St. Joseph who volunteered the whole time that Stasi was there and to the Goss family especially Wynn. All of you, together with Stasi, created a place where all were welcomed and where each visitor experienced an outpouring of hospitality and caring.
Stasi knew how to balance her life – there was always the annual vacation in September with S.Mary Geraghty to Cape Cod; when she retired it was an evening at Miller’s Ale House with Mary and to Panera’s every Saturday morning after the 9 o’clock Mass where they gathered with a group of St. Bernard’s parishioners.
As I reflected on Stasi’s life, it became obvious that all that she did was an expression of our CSJ mission of unity – we use the expression, “We live and work that all may be one.” And indeed how well she did it and for so many years. Her spirituality reflected a listening heart, zeal for the mission, and all-inclusive love for all of God’s people without distinction. Especially in retirement, she cherished the extra time she had for prayer, for spiritual reading, for the Eucharist.
In her poem, “When Death Comes”, Mary Oliver writes:
When death comes
Like the hungry bear in autumn
When death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse
To buy me, and snaps the purse shut,
when death comes
like the measle-pox
when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,
I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?
When it’s over, I want to say all my life
I was a bride married to amazement
I was the bridegroom taking the world into my arms.
When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
If I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.
I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.
Stasi, dear, you did not simply visit this world – you have left a rich legacy of love, caring, hospitality, gentleness and generosity. We have been blessed beyond measure because of your presence in our lives. And so we say Thank you. Thank you, Aunt Katie, Thank you Sister Catherine/Sister Marion Consilio, Thank you, Stasi.
Angela Gannon, CSJ
Sister Catherine Stasi, CSJ died on April 7, 2022 in the 69th year of her religious life.