Sister Christine M. Virginia Kurek, 93, dies

Sister Christine M. Virginia Kurek, 93, of the Little Servant Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, died Sept. 24, at St. Joseph’s Nursing Home in Woodbridge. An administrator at St. Mary’s Catholic Home in Cherry Hill, from 1969-90, and at The Manor at St. Mary’s until 1993, Sister Virginia was known for her deep concern for the residents and their dignity.

Joseph Gilson, president of the Board of Directors of St. Mary’s Catholic Home and The Manor, spoke for many when he said, “Sister Virginia was St. Mary’s and will always be.”

Sister Virginia was born Christine M. Virginia, in Camden on March 1, 1918, the eldest of six children of Thomas and Anna Kurek. She entered the Congregation of the Little Servant Sisters of the Immaculate Conception in 1933 in Woodbridge, N.J.

Following her novitiate at the Motherhouse in Poland, Sister Virginia professed her first vows there in 1937 and her perpetual vows in 1942 in Woodbridge, where she had cared for orphans and catechized.

She held positions in the educational, social and health care ministries until her final prayer ministry, during 78 years of religious life, including a term from 1964-69 as superior provincial in the United States.

Sister Virginia was among the first four sisters who started St. Mary’s Catholic Home in 1941 in present-day Cherry Hill. In addition to caring for the elderly, she toiled with the sisters on the farm and also volunteered in the parish religious education program in Runnemede.

Sister Virginia later became superior of the small community that served at Bishop Bartholomew Eustace’s residence for a decade in Haddonfield. Sister Virginia next served as a teacher and elementary school principal in Buffalo, N.Y. from 1955-64.

Sister Virginia was presented the Bishop’s Medal for her by Bishop George Guilfoyle and was the recipient of Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice award from Pope John Paul II. She was a member of the Camden Diocesan Pastoral Council.

A statement from her religious community said that “Sister Virginia was faithful to her late father’s biblical words at her entrance: ‘When you put your hand to the plough, do not look back.’ When asked what was most important to her, she would promptly reply, ‘God’s will,’ to which she submitted in times of joy and suffering. Sister Virginia realized that prayer was the source of her life and actions, and she had a deep devotion to the Eucharist and to Our Lady of Lourdes. She was an avid reader of spiritual works and general knowledge, and when this was no longer possible, the rosary devotion was her constant companion.

Sister Virginia cherished fond memories of her few visits to Rome with personal meetings with Pope John Paul II, as well as to Poland, the land of her immigrant parents, and the center of her religious community.

“Sister Virginia has completed a faithful journey in her life of serving others,” said her sister, Anne Dominik of Haddon Heights, “walking together with her religious order, the Little Servant Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, in their mission of charity, education and caring for the elderly. In the circle of life with God at the center, together they worked diligently with many demands, blessings, obligations and joys in serving others and the community through the timeless virtues of good works and love of God.”

Her nephew, Michael Dominik, said, “Sister Virginia was my inspiration of servant leadership, the epitome, drawn from Jesus Christ, the ultimate servant leader. Her love for her family was expressed above all by her prayers, for which we are grateful.”

Sister Virginia held a bachelor’s degree in education at Medaille College in Buffalo, N.Y. with post-graduate studies, a certificate from Rutgers University, Camden in management of health care institutions and agencies — nursing home administration, and a State of New Jersey license for the operation of nursing homes.

Sister Virginia was a Fellow of the American College of Nursing Home Administrators, a member of the Senior Citizens Advisory Board of Cherry Hill, and a member of the Advisory Board of the Midlantic Society Hospital Dietary Directors. She served as treasurer of the Society of Licensed Nursing Home Administrators and was its vice-president. She was a lecturer for the New Jersey Department of Health, and was the recipient of the Zonta International Award for pioneer spirit and humanitarianism.

Sister Virginia is predeceased by her siblings, Joseph Kurek, Blanche Daiber, Jeanette Kurek, and is survived by the members of the LSIC congregation, her sister, Anne Dominik, her brother Thomas Kurek, his wife, Teresa, nephews and nieces, Stephen Kurek, Michael Dominik, Ann Marie Harris, Terryann McSparran and many loving great-nephews and nieces.

The Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated Sept. 28 at the Provincialate. Interment was at St. Joseph’s Cemetery, Chews Landing.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Little Servant Sisters I.C., Provincialate, 1000 Cropwell Rd., Cherry Hill, NJ 08003.

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