Remembrance of the Life of Sister Angela Bianco SL
Loretto Sister Angela Bianco died peacefully June 18, 2022, at the Loretto Motherhouse Infirmary. She was 78 and in the 38th year of her life as a Sister of Loretto. Angela wrote the following remembrance of her life. It was shared at her wake:
“I was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., and have lived in the ‘metro area’ for many years. I am a twin, and have another sister and brother. My father immigrated from Italy when he was 11 years old, and my mother’s parents came from Italy and France.
“In the late ‘70’s, I was considering options for religious life, and read an ad in a magazine that featured Sister Gabriel Mason at work in a small shelter in ‘Five Points,’ Denver, Colo., and the banner had a quote from IATW, which struck me. I wrote to an address in Denver, and began corresponding with Sister Liz Dyer. The rest is a journey and relationship that has lasted more than 25 years.
“I was very impressed with the spirit and intellects of the women I met when I visited Sisters in Denver (that’s the ‘sleeping around with the Sisters of Loretto’ story). After living for a summer on Gilpin Street with Sisters Cathy Mueller, Georgeann Hanson and CoL Reidy Clark, I moved to Denver in 1984 and began the formal membership process.
“I had been ‘in the convent’ in the ‘60s and had left, but had never really found any person or pursuit that called to me as did religious life, and so I decided to ‘downsize’ my life and try living very simply and working in an area of high need. I “volunteered” in New Mexico at a shelter for pregnant teens (where, coincidentally, Sister Sylvia Sedillo had worked), and then moved further west and began working directly with Navajo people as a volunteer with a local Mission in Thoreau, N.M. The urge to find a community grew, and THEN I READ THE AD ….
“I spent two-and-a-half years in Denver, and during that time visited the Vrain Street Community, where I often spoke with Sisters LukeTobin, Helen Sanders and especially Sister Sara Frink. Sara became my ‘treasure’ during those years in Denver. We talked about gardens, God, mission, relationships, community, history, and I ‘drank deeply from the well who was Sara.’ Others had a great influence on my views of religious life and religion: Sisters Rose Annette Liddell, Mary Ann Cunningham, Mary Ann Coyle and Mary Ann Gleason challenged and encouraged me to seek more and deeper into the questions that came during the years in Denver.
“The spirituality that emerged and still holds me is an interesting collage of Loretto readings, Navajo spirituality and gleanings from prayer and reading over many years.
“In 1964, I began my professional education, and in 1966 myworking life as a registered nurse, which has taken me to general hospital work, emergency rooms, home and hospice nursing, care of those challenged by disabilities, and the programs I began with the Navajo people in New Mexico which still exist today.
“I deliberately chose nursing since I envisioned it as work I could do anywhere, any time with anyone in need of healthcare — and it has proven to be the door into many lives and hearts — and the source of many heart-rending and heart-filling moments. Nursing has always been ‘active prayer’ for me, whether it was the first touch of a newborn baby, or the last touch of someone dying, it has brought me closest to God.
“During my years in New Mexico, many came and worked with me; and some were just ‘always there’ just a ride away in Albuquerque, Carolyn Wheat and Sue Charmley, who were a ‘way-station’ from the beginning of my acquaintance with Loretto and while I lived in Thoreau. PJ Manion was a faithful visitor who sewed quilts, cooked meals and wrote funding requests. Ceciliana Skees spent several days adding exquisite touches to the childcare section of the old trading post we called THE GATHERING PLACE, and Angelus Caron helped create lessons and videos we used to teach child development techniques to the Navajo women in our education and health programs. Others came, and added humor and help and a real sense of community. A mainstay of my time in Thoreau was Jane German CoL, who shared her life and skills as well as her living space with me for over 14 years.
“The experience of God (the way I define Spirituality) has changed many times for me. It was formal prayer with Psalms and meditation; now it is the peace of nature and the faces of my grand-nephews and nieces whom I see almost daily. God is a living, breathing force in and around me, sometimes very close and mostly elusive, but always worth searching out.
“Loretto strengthens me in that search — we are companions on the journey with all who search for meaning in the larger world we encounter. Having chosen the road of worship and service that embodies religious life in a community, I believe our role is to continue to witness to a belief in the worth and dignity of that journey as a lifelong effort.
“An image that has always helped me is that of fire. Even as a child I was captured by the old images of Pentecost when the Spirit touched the Apostles with ‘tongues of fire.’ And it still embodies one of my favorite passages from Teilhard de Chardin: ‘The day will come when, after harnessing space, the winds, the tides and gravitation, we shall harness for God the energies of Love. And on that day, for the second time in the history of the world, we will have discovered fire.’”
May Angela rest in peace.