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Sur Immacolata Occorsio

List of Deceased Sisters

Date of Death 30/09/2018

SMSM SistersSister Immacolata OCCORSIO (formerly Maria Rosaria)

                                16 April 1931 – 30 September 2018


Sister Immacolata OCCORSIO was born in Rome, 16 April 1931 of Angelo OCCORSIO and Olga Iannace.  She was the second youngest of five siblings – together they were three girls and two boys, one of whom, Vittorio a lawyer, was assassinated in Rome in 1976.  She entered the postulancy 10 June 1953 in Bedizzole-Brescia, and continued her formation at the novitiate in Sainte Foy-lès-Lyon where she received the name Sister Maria Rosaria.  She made her first vows 9 March 1955. After profession she was missioned to Oceania where she courageously began her service as a teacher.

From1956 to 1958 Sister was in New Hebrides (Vanuatu). These first years of her missionary life –  first of all in Port Vila then on Santo – are engraved in the memory of those who knew her. Even though she was a well-educated woman, she had to learn like everyone else the difficulties of language, and especially in making herself understood to the little children who were confided to her care at that time.  She was then sent to Lamap to help at the health clinic.  She was a determined woman and this gave her the courage to serve with all her talents in this difficult time of transition.

From 1959 – 1968, after her home visit, she was transferred to New Caledonia, where she taught at Thio, then La Foa and Bourail. Her passion for education always pushed her to the limits in responding to the challenges and needs of education.

With this in mind, in the 1970s, Sr Immacolata went to university and obtained a PhD in Letters (Literature and Humanities).  She then continued her studies, and in response to missionary needs, obtained a PhD in Canon Law.

In 1974, Sister Immacolata was missioned to Senegal, where she put her gifts at the service of young people, teaching at Hann, the Marist Fathers College. Her personality, though not always adapted to community life – gave her an ease of contact with the world of young people. From 1976-1979, she had to return to Rome from time to time to pass her exams at the University.

During her years in Senegal, her passion for catechesis and vocation promotion was remarkable and appreciated by all. Although there were no smsm candidates at that time, many of the young women she accompanied entered various congregations. She was always surrounded by young people, and even to this day some still ask after her.

 In 1982 and 1983, Sister had a home visit, followed a Second Novitiate in France, before returning to Senegal, where she took up her work again at the College de Hann. Between 1984 and 1987, she was in France and Rome for courses, studies and research.  From 1988, she stayed in Rome, helping to look after her mother who was ill, and working at COR UNUM. Her mother died in 1992, and the following year Sister Immacolata was missioned to Rwanda, a country she did not have the joy of knowing well, because the tragic events of 1994 obliged her to leave the country.

This situation did not take away her enthusiasm for mission. In October 1995, she joined the mission education community in Bari, South Italy. In 1997, when this community was closed, Sister Immacolata continued to live her SMSM charism in various services to the church and the congregation, in Italy and France. At St Victoret, the work shed did in the Tribunal of the Diocese of Aix was much appreciated.

In 2001, she published a Practical Guide for the Study of Various Themes in the first fours volumes of Our Pioneer Sisters – through their Correspondence. This work helps us to learn more about the life and spirituality of our Pioneers.  

 The following is an appreciation of an SMSM who made her novitiate with Sister Immacolata, and continues a sincere friendship with her : « I loved her enthusiasm for Mission and her love of the congregation. I admire her capacity for intellectual work and her expansive learning. All these qualities, she put at the service of mission in various ways.  I would like to highlight here the important work she did, and which she presented at the Gregorian University, Rome in 1988 on la Figure Juridique de la Congrégation des Sœurs Missionnaires de la Société de Marie [The Juridical Status of SMSM].

From 2007 onwards, Sister Immacolata’s health began to decline.  She suffered greatly these past few years, but always with a will to overcome every obstacle to her personal autonomy. She kept a close eye on world events, with a particular concern for migrants. Whenever she met with people from Senegal in Brescia, she would relive that missionary dimension of her vocation. When her health permitted it, she would attend their liturgical celebrations, and afterwards, the long conversations only she could sustain!

Towards the end of March this year, she could no longer leave her room. It was then necessary to transfer her to a Rest Home that could cater better for her needs. She was received into the home of the sisters « Ancelle della Carità », [Handmaids of Charity], where she stayed for six months until 30 September 2018, when the Lord came for her.

Sister Immacolata, you no longer spoke a word during the last months of your life. When you were well, you taught through proclamation. In the silence of your suffering, you have taught us to reverence the suffering members of the Body we form.

May Mary, Gate of Heaven, receive you close to her and to our Pioneers.


S. Marie Kampororo, smsm