June 29, 1931 – December 1, 2016
Raised as the youngest child in a large and loving family in Holy Family Parish, Virginia attributed her own faith to the deep faith passed on to her through her family and the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. Virginia “grew up” with the Sisters who were her teachers for twelve years. Virginia would later remember spending Saturdays at school, where Sister would set up the ping pong table so they could play a game or two. Virginia described it as experiencing the human side of the Sisters. As a 5th grader she went to her mother and asked, “Do you think I can go to the convent?” Her mother replied, “Well, we have a long time to think about this.”
During high school the Sisters made Virginia feel needed. She saw them helping others and readily contributed her help as a member of the Catholic Student’s Mission Crusade and Young Christian Student Union. Her desire to “go to the convent” deepened, but she didn’t talk about it because she didn’t want to miss the fun going on around her. She finally talked to her family in early 1949. With their support, Virginia entered that summer.
Virginia was surprised at the struggles she endured her first couple of years in community. She remembered, after one particularly difficult interview with the Novice Mistress, going to Chapel and praying, “O Lord I thought I had this and this and this to bring to you – but they don’t think I have it. Whatever I have left I’m going to bring to you.” It was a significant moment for Virginia that shaped a life-long attitude of giving all she had to give in service to God through service to her Sisters, students, and all those she met.
Virginia started her teaching career as Sister Michael of the Trinity. She would have the opportunity to teach every grade from Kindergarten through 8th and, with one exception, all of her teaching assignments were in urban settings. Virginia’s specialty was Math but, no matter what the subject matter, her focus was on teaching to the needs of the children. Besides being a good teacher, Virginia’s ability to deal with diverse situations and people made her an excellent administrator. She served as the first principal at St. Francis de Sales, a rural school where she, another Sister and a lay teacher were the entire staff; as principal at St. Peter Canisius where over 1,000 students were split between two buildings; as principal of St. James, Dayton where she helped successfully merge three inner-city parish schools into one; and as principal of Dayton Catholic Elementary.
In 1978 Virginia was asked to begin an Office of Gerontology for the Ohio Province. In that role she had the opportunity to meet with older Sisters and listen to their stories. She identified their needs and hopes for their senior years and planned activities accordingly. It was a natural development that, three years later, a consultation of the Sisters would lead to Virginia’s appointment as Coordinator of the Mt. Notre Dame Community. She encouraged each Sister to both take responsibility for her own life and be available and sensitive to members of the community. Virginia did her best to model accepting and appreciating each Sister and helped the Sisters accept and appreciate each other. She started small scripture-based faith sharing groups. For many Sisters it was the first time they had shared the fruit of their years of prayer. Virginia treasured the grace of their sharing and how it deepened her own experience of God. She also treasured the grace of walking with many Sisters on their journey through death to Resurrection. It was during this time that Virginia helped develop and then educate the Sisters in many of the US SNDdeN provinces about Durable Power of Attorneys. The process was a communal effort of facing the reality of death and it was not easy for the community to do. Virginia’s leadership in this area continues to reap benefits for our Sisters today.
After nine years of internal ministry, Virginia returned to formal education as Assistant Superintendent of Schools for the northern area of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. Based at St. James Convent in Dayton, she loved the driving involved in her work and loved working with the principals. Virginia also worked with the Catholic Conference of Ohio on the Ohio Catholic Educators Association’s bi-annual program. She was given responsibility for the “paddlewheel” part of the program that required organizing 3,000+ teachers into groups with key teachers presenting practical ideas for the classroom. Virginia was also a prime mover behind the creation of programs to provide adequate and appropriate instruction for special needs students in the Dayton area’s Catholic schools.
In 2000 Virginia’s discernment led her to move into pastoral ministry full time at St. James Parish. From her arrival at St. James in 1973 she had been actively involved in the parish. It was at St. James that the African American Community and culture became so dear to Virginia’s heart. The people of St. James spoke to her soul and drew her to stand with them for the rest of her life. As pastoral minister Virginia made home and hospital visits, helped plan and participated in parish renewal programs, served on parish council and numerous parish committees, and worked with the people as St. James merged with other parishes to form and build St. Benedict the Moor Parish.
In 2004 Virginia closed St. James Convent and moved to Hoover Place, an African American independent living senior citizen community. She continued her work at the parish and took on the job of Assistant to the Manager at Hoover Place. Virginia helped create a homelike atmosphere where residents were happy, safe and secure. Her specific responsibilities included advocacy for residents, recording and banking rents, helping new residents with paperwork, assisting with community events, serving as the point person for all emergencies and providing a presence to residents – especially those who found themselves in painful situations.
From Hoover Place Virginia continued an outreach ministry that began in 1973 when a local businessman and friend wanted to do something to help people trapped in poverty. He gave Virginia $4,000.00 to aid people who needed food, help with the rent, utility bills, medications, etc. She visited the homes of people who expressed a need and often helped beyond what was asked for. The anonymous donor gave another $4,000.00, and another. Through 2015 he entrusted Virginia with up to $20,000.00 a year to help people in need. Each Christmas he would give another $20,000 to provide food and gifts for families that had nothing. Virginia’s relationships with the people she helped fed her own faith and sense of gratitude for all God had given her. It was no surprise to those that know her that Chaminade Julienne High School honored her as a Distinguished Alum in 1997. In 2007 Virginia received both the Mary Scott Nursing Center’s Legacy Award and St. Benedict the Moor’s Cardinal Bernardin Community Service Award. Part of their tribute read: “You display the epitome of our program’s theme, joyful in God’s work while “Making a Difference” in our community. For this we wish to acknowledge the generosity of your diligent and loving service.” The tribute continued: “Sister Virginia lives out her commitment to ‘serve the poor in the most abandoned places’ by continuing to live and work among those who need her most.”
In community Virginia was always a woman of integrity, a compassionate listener, a devoted friend and a hard worker. A high sensate, she noticed little things and did them for the Sisters. Virginia loved to read and knew how to apply insights at appropriate times. She often had just the quote needed to move a meeting toward productiveness. Virginia was an excellent cook, keen card player, enjoyed music and was willing to drive anywhere. She enjoyed a good conversation, shared a keen sense of humor, loved to tease and be teased and was a great team person. Virginia worked at her spiritual life through faithfulness to prayer, workshops, spiritual direction and retreats. Her 30-day retreat was a memorable experience that transformed how she saw God and herself. For 19 years Virginia shared the Notre Dame charism as a Chaminade Julienne Board Member. She started one of the first Notre Dame Associate groups in Dayton, and was the last Moderator of the Julienne Alumnae.
Virginia appreciated the different people God brought to her through each facet of her life. She had a special gift for building relationships with all of them. She valued time spent with her extended family, treasured friendships with co-workers, former students, parishioners and Sisters. Likewise she could reflect on how each ministry called for the growth of different gifts within her. At the time of her Golden Jubilee one friend said of her: “Without fanfare, but with a wealth of vision and vitality, you have labored tirelessly for your church…, you have proven yourself to be an instrument of healing, a learned spiritual leader, a compelling educator, a sensitive counselor, and a loyal friend. In each of these roles, you have conscientiously performed an array of duties, touching countless lives with sensitivity and skill….you have inspired and strengthened virtually everyone who has met you.”
Virginia was once asked if she was afraid of death. She replied, “Well, I hate good-byes and I hate starting over new and death includes both of those.” Virginia went on to reflect on how each time she changed ministries she discovered the new was as beautiful as the old. She joked about “God’s credibility” going up and faced death as one more good-bye leading to the new life of resurrection. Now we, Virginia’s family, friends and Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, gather to celebrate her rich life and all the ways she made God’s goodness known to us. As we celebrate her resting in God’s faithful love it is fitting that we listen to a poem Virginia wrote expressing her faith journey:
For God who is never far away.
For God who is ever near.
To be an empty fragile vessel.
To overflow with God’s love.
To hear God’s word in our world today.
In my Father’s steadfast love.
Born June 29, 1931 in Cincinnati, Ohio
Mother: Etheline M. Lacy (born in Dayton Ohio)
Family: Virginia was raised in the home of her grandparents’ (Walter Lacy and Bernace Plaspohl Lacy) as one of ten siblings: Edith M. Lacy Lange (Fred), Wilma Lacy Haas (Roman), Opal Lacy, Roy Lacy (Mary Lucas), Irene Lacy Newman (Noah), Rhea Lacy Thompson (Robert), Margaret M. Lacy Condy (Ralph), Eileen H. Lacy Link (Don)
Baptized July 12, 1931 at St. Joseph Maternity Hospital, Cincinnati, Ohio
Confirmed November 24, 1940 at Holy Family Church, Dayton, Ohio
Entered July 26, 1949
First Profession: January 26, 1952
Final Profession: August 13, 1957
Holy Family Parish School, Dayton, Ohio, 1945
Julienne High School, Dayton, Ohio, 1949
Bachelor of Science in Education from the University of Dayton, Dayton, Ohio, 1961
Master of Science in Education from Xavier University, Cincinnati, Ohio, 1967
Master of Science in Religious Education from the Athenaeum of Ohio, 1981
1952-1953 St. Aloysius Parish School, Columbus, Ohio
1953-1960 St. Peter Canisius Parish School, Chicago, Illinois
1960-1961 St. Mary Parish School, Cincinnati, Ohio
1961-1962 St. Paul Parish School, Cincinnati, Ohio
1962-1965 St. Francis de Sales Parish School, Lebanon, Ohio
1965-1973 St. Peter Canisius Parish School, Chicago, Illinois
1973-1975 St. James Parish School, Dayton, Ohio
1975-1976 St. James Parish School & Parish, Dayton, Ohio
1976-1978 Dayton Catholic Elementary School, Dayton, Ohio
1978-1981 Director of Gerontology, Ohio Province, Mount Notre Dame Convent, Reading, Ohio
1981-1987 Community Coordinator, Mount Notre Dame Community, Mount Notre Dame Convent, Reading, Ohio
1987-2000 Assistant Superintendent of Schools, Archdiocese of Cincinnati Northern Area, Dayton, Ohio
2000-2014 Pastoral Minister, St. James/Resurrection/Benedict the Moor Parishes, Dayton, Ohio
2004-2014 Assistant to Manager, Hoover Place, Dayton, Ohio
2014-2016: Community Service, Mt. Notre Dame Health Center, Reading, Ohio
Died at Mt. Notre Dame Health Center December 1, 2016
Sr. Kim Dalgarn SNDdeN
December 1, 2016