A Dedicated Life!
By Evelyn Fugazzi, SCN
“Popo! I want to go with you!” shouted four-year-old Barbara Evelyn Brocato. “Popo! Tell us your story again!” she asked with her small brother, Vincent, nearby. Grandmother Antoinette, sits quietly in her rocker crocheting as she listens once again to the her husband, sharing with these beloved children, his adventures on the Mississippi (from New Orleans to Memphis and back) as vendor of fruits and vegetables for customers residing on the east and west banks of the river.
Barbara was born in Memphis, Tenn. to Vincent and Mary Sorce Brocato and grew up in Clarksdale, Mississippi. She shares, “I remember early life for my brother and me as being surrounded by love, not just from our immediate family but from the “village of relatives” who always seemed present to us. On the Brocato side, the favorite name for each generation was ‘Vincent’. We just loved our grandparents including our mother’s parents, Angelo Sorce, a barber, and beloved grandmother Mary Grace!”
When Barbara Evelyn was ready for the fourth grade, her father took her by ferry to Sacred Heart Academy boarding school in Helena, Arkansas. Thus her long history with the SCN Congregation began. She entered after one year in college and received the name Sister Maria Vincent. After making first vows on March 25, 1951, Sister Maria Vincent spent over 20 years in elementary, secondary, and college education ministry.
In 1971, her missionary life journey changed direction as she became Novice Director and was involved in Youth Retreat Ministry. In 1985 Sister Maria Vincent was elected Provincial of the Southern Province after which she served as the SCN Health Corporation Vice-President for Mission. In 1990 she began ministry as Assistant Executive Director of Sacred Heart Southern Missions in Mississippi and in 1993 became Executive Director. “I especially loved this ministry because it was an opportunity to be involved in the developing Church of the South in particular changing the lives of the poor,” Sister Maria said. “We had diversity of social service ministries serving all ages; a multi-cultural, ecumenical staff of both religious and lay persons; we cared for Aids Patients; our housing ministry provided on-going practical home-caring skills for families who assisted in the building of 39 homes.”
In 1998 Sister Maria was elected President of the SCN Congregation. “It was an honor to serve and represent the Community in this way,” she said. In 2004, S. Maria was again in discernment asking herself, “How can I best serve?” The answer came with the need for a Director of SCN Office of Sponsored Ministries. Her focus has been on mission education and board development. Sister Maria and Associate Director, Rose Howard, SCN attend all Board Meetings of the ten sponsored ministries; they assisted them in securing six SCN Ministry Grants and have recently held a Board Conference.
S. Maria concludes, “I find great serenity in caring for my vegetable garden. And of course, I am “spiritually and physically” at home with any Italian recipe! Quilting is also a favorite hobby.
“When I think about my life as a Sister of Charity of Nazareth, I am deeply grateful for the blessings this life has offered! I have been nurtured by on-going love and strengthened by the many challenges!” Sister Maria said.