Sister Mary Virginita Tarnacki

Sister Mary Virginita was a Felician Sister for 70 years.
Portrait of Sister Mary Virginita Tarnarki
June 2, 1936 — April 24, 2024

Sister Mary Virginita, of Buffalo, NY, age 87, a Felician Sister for 70 years, entered eternal life on Wednesday, April 24, 2024, in Immaculate Heart of Mary Convent, Buffalo, NY.

The former Dorothy Tarnacki was born on June 2, 1936, in Syracuse, NY, and was a member of Transfiguration Parish. She entered the Immaculate Heart of Mary Province of the Felician Sisters in Buffalo, NY, on July 16, 1953, and professed perpetual vows on August 3, 1961. She graduated from the Immaculate Heart of Mary Academy in Buffalo and furthered her education at Daemen (Rosary Hill) College, Amherst, NY, where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree.

Sister Virginita began her ministry as a Felician Sister at St. Barbara School, Lackawanna, NY. She taught at the elementary level for almost twenty-five years in various schools in the Dioceses of Buffalo and Syracuse and was also involved in religious education programs in the Diocese of Ogdensburg. A gentle and sensitive person, Sister Virginita was a loving and excellent teacher who fostered cooperation and mutual respect among her students. Her deep appreciation and concern for every student, good judgment, and understanding led her to serve as principal in various schools, including St. Valentine, Buffalo, NY; St. Stanislaus, Binghamton, NY; and Our Lady of Czestochowa, Cheektowaga, NY, for a total of sixteen years. Always eager to serve, Sister Virginita encouraged her students to be active in the community and led by example, participating alongside them. Early in her teaching career, Carl Eilenberg, then Mayor of Rome, NY, recognized her enthusiasm, noting that the V in her name stood for “vibrant, vital, vivacious . . . and lots of ‘v’un!” Her dedication, service, and contributions to Catholic education were recognized with the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Award for Meritorious Service presented by the Department of Catholic Education, Buffalo, NY, in 2001.

After forty-seven years of fruitful ministry in the field of education, Sister Virginita returned to the Syracuse area in 2004. With the Blessed Virgin Mary as her guide and model, she continued a life of service assisting the sisters with whom she lived in various ways. In 2008, sister joined the community at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Convent in Buffalo. A devoted handmaid of the Lord, Sister Virginita first served as a receptionist at St. Francis Residence and then continued to serve the sisters at Immaculate Heart of Mary Convent even as her own health declined. As Sister began her own final journey, she spent more and more time in prayer, accepting her suffering with calmness of spirit and surrender to God’s will.

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Serving where needed since 1874

Founded in Poland in 1855, the Felician Sisters are a congregation of women religious inspired by the spiritual ideals of their foundress, Blessed Mary Angela Truszkowska, and Saints Francis of Assisi, Clare of Assisi and Felix of Cantalice. Arriving in North America in 1874 following Blessed Mary Angela’s directive “to serve where needed,” they helped to weave the social service system. Today, the Felician Sisters founded, sponsor or support through the presence of our sisters, more than 40 ministries – all continuing to evolve to meet the needs of the people they serve.

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Felician Sisters of North America