|Birth: ||Sep. 14, 1903|
|Death: ||Mar. 12, 1993|
My Great Aunt. The first of three blood sisters to enter the Society of the Sacred Heart, which she later left due to health reasons, Katie led a remarkably interesting life. A born leader, strong-charactered woman, she was referred to by many as "Is-Sinjura tal-Kappell" in her later years, when she retired to her native island of Malta. A former Nun who later married on the advice of a Priest, she led an active life across the world. This is her story.
The first child born to Nicola Orlando, a blacksmith, and his second wife, Euphemia Tonna, she received the names Caterina, Crocifissa and Gratia on her baptism. Born in Zejtun, Malta, on September 14, 1903, as a child, she used to assist her mother in her grocery shop, rising up very early in the morning to bake bread for early shoppers. A fair, well-built, amazingly strong woman, Katie entered the Society of the Sacred Heart at an early age, pronouncing her First Vows on January 10, 1927, and her Final Vows on August 26, 1933, at the Sacred Heart Convent in Vancouver, Canada. Shortly after taking her First Vows in 1927, she went to Japan for five years. Back in Vancouver, after taking her Final Vows she remained in Canada until 1949, at which time she moved to the Society Convent in Albany, New York.
Poor health and the fact that she was not allowed to see a doctor by her Superiors, proved too hard for Sister Catherine. While a nanny, the mother of a boarder school girl kept asking her over and over again what would she like as a present as a sign of appreciation to all the dedication she showed towards her child. Back in days, the Nuns of her Congregation were not allowed to receive any presents for their self keep or to keep any personal mementos, including photos of their relatives or parents, so Sr. Catherine always refused to receive any sort of gifts. Finally, upon the insistence of this woman, she came up with something she felt she really needed: a pocket sized English - Italian dictionary, which seemed a rather small gift for the lady, but Sister Catherine was more than happy to get it. She had decided to write to the Pope about her situation in Religious Life. It took her three months to complete write the letter, which she kept in her pockets together with the dictionary so that it they wouldn't fall in the hands of her Superiors. With lights out at 10 pm, and entering her room approximately half an hour before, she could not hurry up her task. Finally, the letter was finished and was on its way to Rome. Some weeks later, her Mother Superior received a tough letter from the Holy See. The medievally wrong idea of not having a doctor entering the cloistered walls for the simple sake that he was a man seemed to upset people in Rome. Thus Sister Catherine received a special dispensation which enabled her to leave the Society, which she did on June 8, 1951.
Catherine moved to Detroit, Michigan, where she was employed as a cook in a Parish Rectory. A Priest serving in the area, suggested to Catherine that she'd get married. At first, she refused, saying that at 50 years of age, she was too old to raise a family. The priest settled down the issue immediately, saying that the idea of getting married was not for having a family raised, but that it was not safe for her living on her own and that company would after all, serve her good. So, he had her meet a Maltese widower who hailed from Mosta, Joseph Agius. The marriage took place some months later at the Most Holy Redeemer Parish in Detroit on June 18, 1955, and was officiated by Father Peter Forbes C.Ss.R. In sixteen years of marriage, the couple travelled continuously. They settled down in Winona Drive, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, where they managed a grocery store, and used to move to Florida, during the winter season. Frequent visitors to the Niagara Falls, fishing was one of their main hobbies, as was voluntary work for her with the Salvation Army. Cabaret shows with distinguished guests such as Bing Crosby were also among her favourites. Following Joseph's death in 1971, Katie came up with the idea of moving to New South Wales, Australia, but later thought it would be better to settle down in her native Malta. Her niece gave her a room in her residence in Steeple Street, Cospicua, until she rented a small residence in St. Mark's Street in the same city, a few minutes away from Steeple Street. Her residence looked more like a crypt, with sunlight barely hitting her yard. An elderly man who kept peeping through a small window all day long was the last thing one could get. Putting a set of curtains was not enough. One fine day, she was walking in the Fgura locality when she was noticed by an elderly broker. She stopped her and asked if there was anything she could do for her. Yes, there was. She was looking for a place of her own. The broker took her immediately to a man who together with his wife and four children, had decided to emigrate for Australia and had his house for sale. A nice, newly built maisonette with a small yard and a garden covered all she was looking for. And thus, Katie moved to her new residence in Fgura.
A devoted cook and seamstress, her delicacies were something one would look forward to taste. Biscuits, cakes, nougat and ice-cream were among her specialities. Voluntary work remained among her activities, as did travel. Every week, she used to rise up earlier than usual and catch a bus to the small village of Siġġiewi, where she used to provide assistance at the "Dar Tal-Providenza", a residence which houses persons with disability. Across the week, she would seam for them clothes, rugs, blankets and other requested material. Lace-making was however, her greatest forte.
"To learn about a place, it's not enough reading a book about it, but you have to visit it yourself", she used to say. Thus, she visited Madrid, Spain, took a grand tour across Italy, and went on a pilgrimage to Lourdes in France.
The Carmelite Fathers were still constructing their present Parish Church in Fgura at the time. Katie soon became one of their greatest benefactors. She financed among others the four rounded glass stained windows, the Presbytery marble and the concrete bridge on the rear end of the Church. A Religious Brother of the Carmelite Fathers who then formed part of the Fgura Community used to ask her to seam for him rugs, blankets and other items so that he could raise continuous lotteries for the financial needs of the Parish. Vocations were particularly dear to her. Many young Seminarians had their chalice bought by her as a present for their priesthood ordination and at least seven candidates in India were ordained thanks to her financial contributions.
Particularly fond of well looks, she had a vast collection of clothes. She would never be seen wearing in the evening the same outfit she'd wear in the morning. A longtime time smoker of DuMaurier cigarettes, she gave up smoking in her later years. An amazingly strong person, particular diets or medicines were never part of her lifestyle. "La Ruota della Fortuna", presented by Iva Zanicchi were among her evening recreations, as were tombola and tea gatherings in her yard or living room, in the company of her blood sister Teresa and other fellow Nuns of the Society of the Sacred Heart, who back then had a residence in Liedna Street, Fgura.
A woman of deep religious life, rosary and daily meditations through her several prayer books never failed. Katie passed unexpectedly away on Friday, March 12, 1993, in the afternoon, while seated in her armchair inside her room at her residence in Cospicua Road, Fgura, in the presence of her niece, Carmela, who cared for her for over twenty years. According to her wishes, she was dressed in a white dress donned with a light blue sash which she had personally seamed. After 89 years of active life, her heart stopped beating peacefully and Katie's last chapter in the long, vast book of her long life was closed.
Funeral Mass was celebrated at Fgura's Parish Church, to which she served as a benefactress for so many years, with internment following at the Santa Maria Addolorata Cemetery in Paola, in the Vaults of the Crucifix Fraternity of the Collegiate of Cospicua.
Nicola Amabilis Spiridione Orlando (1864 - 1939)
Euphemia Orlando (1847 - 1933)
Joseph Agius (1895 - 1971)*
Peter Orlando (1898 - ____)**
Giovanna Barbara (1899 - 1961)**
Katie Agius (1903 - 1993)
Teresa Orlando R.S.C.J. (1908 - 2002)*
Maria Orlando R.S.C.J. (1910 - 2000)*
Marcello Orlando (1912 - 1995)*
Santa Maria Addolorata Cemetery
Southern Harbour, Malta
Plot: Crucifix Fraternity Vaults, Tomb No. 12.
Created by: Eman Bonnici
Record added: Jan 16, 2012
Find A Grave Memorial# 83509368