Sister Marie Anna Moltz, SSND - 1921 - 2024

Sister Marie Anna Moltz, SSND
(Sister Mary Electa)
December 8, 1921 – June 9, 2024

Marie Anna Moltz was born in Brooklyn, New York, on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, in 1921, to devoutly Catholic parents, Anna Beljan and Joseph Moltz, both from Yugoslavia.  She was baptized on Christmas Day at Our Lady of Sorrows Church. A brother was two years older; another brother whose birth followed hers died when he was three, and a sister died at 18 months when Marie Anna was eight. Another sister was born when Marie Anna was ten.

The family, finally of one boy and two girls, had moved to Ridgewood, New York, where the children were taught by SSNDs at St. Matthias School; here they received First Communion and Confirmation, Marie Anna from Bishop Thomas Molloy. After 8th grade graduation in 1934, she went to St. Saviour High School in Brooklyn for two years.  

In her autobiography, Marie Anna later wrote,

I decided to enter the Juniorate which was to open. I had cherished the desire of becoming a School Sister of Notre Dame as long as I can remember. I received no opposition from home and a little encouragement from Sister Magdalen, my 8th grade teacher.

Two years later, Marie Anna received the bonnet at St. Matthias Convent on August 28, 1939, and began her Candidature at the Motherhouse on Aisquith Street in Baltimore. At Reception in 1941, she received the name Mary Electa, made first profession on July 30, 1942, and final profession on the same date in 1948.

A long list of mission assignments as teacher and principal followed for Sister Electa/Marie Anna in typical SSND fashion — teacher from ’42-’46 at St. Michael, Baltimore, and ’46-’58 at Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Poughkeepsie, N.Y, before she became Principal at St. Mary, Albany from ’58-’62, at St. Michael, South Glens Falls, N.Y., ’62-’68. She then spent one year at Immaculate Heart of Mary, Rutland, Vermont,’68-’69, another at St Matthias, her alma mater from ’69-’70, and then went as Principal to St. Clare, Clifton, N.J., ’70-’74. At most of these missions, Marie Anna combined being an 8th grade teacher with principalship, and local superior, as was the very demanding custom at that time. Young Sisters Anne McCarthy and Katharine Lawless, for whom she was principal and superior at Glens Falls, remember her as very kind to their families, and always interested in learning new things. 

A change came from 1974 to 1977 when Marie Anna taught at the Graduate School of Education at Seton Hall University, in South Orange, N.J. She then taught part-time for five years at Archbishop Walsh High School in Irvington, N.J. while working as the full-time Director of Religious Education at Immaculate Conception Parish in Secaucus, N.J. At St. Leo Parish, Irvington, she served as DRE until 1979, while caring for her parents from 1975 to 1981. Marie Anna combined this loving service in 1979 with the beginning of her principalship at St. James School, in Springfield, N.J., which lasted 17 years. She was also Coordinator of the school Math program there between 2002 and 2004 and later Pastoral Minister at St. James from 1996 to 1998, and Minister to the Elderly from 2001 to 2007. She “wore many hats” during 27 years at St. James Parish. Intermittently during these years, Immaculate Conception, Secaucus, again claimed her services as teacher, pastoral minister, art teacher and in community service in the convent.

When she came to Villa Notre Dame in Wilton in August 2006, Marie Anna came, not to retire, but rather equipped to offer full-time service in her lifelong skill in sewing, and her newer interest and expertise—stitchery on computerized sewing machines that she could individually program.  This was called “Jubilee Stitchery” because the Council gifted Jubilarians each year with beautifully embroidered versions of their chosen themes or covers for You are Sent. Her work enriched the annual Octoberfest at Wilton, and many craft fairs in Bethel.

When the community moved to Watermark in 2021, a fully equipped sewing room was set up and used every day by Marie Anna and Katharine Lawless, her partner in both decorative and practical sewing and mending. It was typical of Marie Anna to become interested in the latest development of a lifelong talent, and to enjoy becoming proficient in it. 

Many sisters at Watermark kept hourly vigils with Marie Anna as she lingered for some days before dying in her apartment on June 9, 2024, at age 102. Several relatives were also able to be present. A wake service and Liturgy of Christian Burial were celebrated at St. Andrew Church in Bridgeport on June 20. Sister Theresa Lamy led the Wake Service, at which Sister Eileen Shea read from Corinthians, and nephew, Robert G. Laurencelle, spoke of her “excellent life.” Father Bob Stagg, her very appreciative Pastor at St. James, was presider and homilist. About 40 family members and friends were present from several different places; family all calling her their “Aunt Marie,” and remembering her as a “Gentle Woman,” and her ability to “reinvent herself.” Ryan, Joey, Yvonne, Cindy, Gianni, Heather, Alison, and Kathy all took part in the liturgy.

In his eulogy, Grandnephew Bobby Laurencelle, speaking in baseball parlance, said, 

“In the game of life, Aunt Marie would have been a first ballot, unanimous vote Hall of Famer,” so he wrote what could have been on the back of her baseball card:

Rookie Year    1921
Siblings    4   Nieces and Nephews    8
Age when she began her journey to becoming a nun    16
Age when called up to the nun big leagues   20   States lived in    4
Schools where she was principal    7
Degrees    1 Bachelor of Science    2 Masters
Price of milk when she was born    35 cents a gallon
Most sold car that year    Ford Model T
Major events witnessed  
D-Day, VE Day, VJ Day, Polio Vaccine, Forming of the UN, Desegregation, Alaska and Hawaii becoming States, MLK, JFK, RFK Assassinations   
Wars witnessed    WW2, Korean, Viet Nam, Gulf, Iraq, Ukraine
Moon Landing, First female Supreme Court Justice
US Presidents elected during her life    18
Blankets crocheted    over 100
Grace said before dinner at family events    250 plus
Hours spent sewing    Every available free hour
Prayers she whispered aloud while driving    1,525,600
Number of times she called me “Dear”    1984
Years lived    102.5  
Year when any of us forget her    Never

Burial followed the Liturgy at St. Mary Cemetery in Bethel, Connecticut.  

By Sisters Kay O’Connell, Anne McCarthy and Katharine Lawless

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