Sister Natalie Scibilia SNDdeN
November 24, 1927 – October 19, 2021
“Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
Anyone who met Sister Natalie soon knew how proud she was of her Sicilian heritage. Born Fortunata Scibilia in Pace Del Mela, Messina, Sicily, Natalie was just a toddler when she immigrated with her mother and older brother. Her father had earlier traveled to the United States and gained permanent residency, enabling him to send for the rest of his immediate family. Natalie often reflected on the goodness of God shown to her family. She said: “How wonderful and mysterious are the ways of God’s plan that our family came to the U.S.A. in September, 1929, one month before the Great Depression! However, through the ingenuity and hard work of my parents, Frank and Christine Scibilia, we were able to make it in those difficult times…. We have been most grateful for the deep faith, courage and fearlessness of our parents to cross the Atlantic and bring us to a new land where many good people and friends came into our lives.”
The Scibilia family settled in Milmont Park, Pennsylvania. There Natalie attended the parish and school of Our Lady of Peace for eight years. When it came time for high school, she was enrolled at Notre Dame High School, Moylan, Pennsylvania where she came to know the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur and the charism of their foundress, Saint Julie Billiart. Natalie described the role the Sisters of Notre Dame had in her discernment of God’s call: “It was through my high school teachers that I began thinking about entering a religious order. Their prayer, and mutual care and support was evident in the way that the Sisters dealt with one another. They were very respectful and impartial in their dealings with each student. I was so inspired by them that teaching became a future career that I was determined to follow.”
Natalie entered the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur at Ilchester, Maryland on August 12, 1945. Three days later she and the other new members of the community heard sirens and whistles blowing in the distance. To their joyful surprise, they learned the noise signified the ending of World War II. Natalie said, “In our youthful imaginations, we took it as a sign that God rewarded us for the sacrifice of our homes and families.” With her peers, Natalie prepared for the ministry of teaching. She received the name Sister Ann Christine when she received the habit. That was how she was known until 1968 when she resumed using the name Natalie.
Natalie’s teaching ministry began with second graders, and then she spent two years teaching Kindergarten. First and second graders were Natalie’s focus the next 25 years. She brought her strong work ethic, organizational skills, joy of life and deep belief in God’s goodness into her interactions with her young students, their parents, her co-workers and the parishioners of the many parishes where she served. Saint Julie was once told that her Sisters were not meant to remain in one diocese, and Natalie certainly exemplified willingness to go where she was needed. She taught in schools from New York to Atlanta doing her best to focus on the needs of each child, giving each a good educational foundation and helping each to experience God’s goodness and love. It was at St. Anthony’s in Florence, South Carolina where Natalie was asked to take on teaching grades four, five and six. The rest of her 45 years of teaching would be devoted to teaching Social Studies, Language Arts, Drama and Speech to the intermediate grades. Natalie enjoyed hearing from former students, celebrating with them achievements and milestones. She also kept them, and their families, in her prayers. In addition to her ministry in parish schools, Natalie spent years teaching religious education classes to young parishioners who attended public school.
In 1983 Natalie answered a need for internal ministry within her community. She served as secretary for part of the Maryland Province’s administration. Natalie brought the same work ethic and organizational skills to office work that she had to teaching. She also brought her sense of humor and the same adaptability that had enabled her to teach in such diverse locations. Natalie returned to teaching in 1990, accepting a position at Holy Spirit School in New Castle, Delaware. She spent the final decade of her teaching ministry at Holy Spirit. Serving in Delaware also put Natalie in the same geographic area as her family, a rare treat for her!
Natalie once again answered the call to serve her Sisters when she joined the administrative staff of the Maryland Province at Villa Julie, Stevenson, Maryland in 2000. She served in the Finance Office and Medical Records Office, ensuring the smooth functioning of the offices by efficiently handling any administrative task asked of her, including figuring out how to use computer technology to accomplish her responsibilities! Natalie retired in 2013 and joined the Health Center at Mt. Notre Dame in Reading, Ohio.
At Villa Julie, as at each of her previous communities, Natalie brought her delightful personality, energy and humor to community life as well as to her ministry. She accepted each Sister as gift, greeting them with a smile and a sparkle in her eyes. Her attention to detail, love of beauty and devotion to the Eucharist made her an excellent Sacristan. Natalie loved football, especially Joe Falco and the Baltimore Ravens. Perhaps all of her years traveling up and down I-95 developed her love of car racing! She could name many drivers as she watched them speed around the course. Natalie loved celebrations large and small. At her 60th Jubilee Natalie said, “Serving the Lord has been a happy and rewarding experience! With St. Julie our foundress, I too exclaim in her words, ‘How Good is the Good God!’” Her community is grateful to have had the opportunity to celebrate her 76 years as a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur just days before her death.
Now as we gather to celebrate Natalie’s transition to eternal life, we give thanks for the gift she has been to each of us, and to each person God brought into her life. We thank Natalie for all the ways she made God’s goodness known to so many. We ask her continued prayers for us, and for our world as we join Natalie in praying:
I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall be always in my mouth.
My soul will glory in the Lord; let the poor hear and be glad.
Magnify the Lord with me; and let us exalt his name together.
(Psalm 34: 2-4)
- Born November 24, 1927 in Pace Del Mela, Messina, Sicily, Italy
- Parents: Frank Scibilia (born: Messina, Sicily, Italy) and Christine Salvia (born: Messina, Sicily, Italy)
- Sibling: Joseph Scibilia
- Baptized December 25, 1927 at Santa Maria Della Visita, Messina, Sicily, Italy
- Confirmed March 18, 1929 at Santa Maria Della Visita, Messina, Sicily, Italy
- Entered the Sisters of Notre Dame August 12, 1945 at Ilchester, MD
- First Profession: January 21, 1948
- Final Profession: July 31, 1953
- Bachelor of Science in Education, Trinity College, Washington, D.C. 1962
- Master of Arts in Education, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, NC 1970
- 1/1/1948-8/31/1948 St. Martin, Gaithersburg, MD
- 1948-1955 St. Martin, T Street, Washington, D.C.
- 1955-1960 St. Eleanor, Collegeville, PA
- 1960-1964 Blessed Sacrament, Norfolk, VA
- 1964-1965 St. Anthony, Southern Pines, NC
- 1965-1967 St. Thomas More, Decatur, GA
- 1967-1971 SS. Joachim & Anne, Brooklyn, NY
- 1971-1981 St. Anthony, Florence, SC
- 1981-1983 Our Lady of Victory, Baltimore, MD
- 1983-1990 Province Staff, New Castle, DE; Ilchester & Baltimore, MD, Washington, D.C.
- 1990-2000 Teacher, Holy Spirit, New Castle, DE
- 2000-2013 Province Staff, Maryland Province, Stevenson, MD
- 2013-2021: Ministry of Prayer, Mt. Notre Dame Health Center, Reading, OH
Died: October 19, 2021 at Mt. Notre Dame Health Center, Reading, OH
Sr. Kim Dalgarn SNDdeN
October 21, 2021