Tuesday, July 11, 2023
Mass of the Resurrection, 10:30 a.m.
Church of Our Lady of Loretto
Saint Mary’s, Notre Dame, Indiana
Read the memories shared at Sister Elizabeth's funeral.
Sister Elizabeth Raffo, CSC
(Sister Ronald Mary)
October 29, 1932–July 3, 2023
We share news of the death of Sister Elizabeth Raffo, CSC, who died at 6:36 p.m. on July 3, 2023, in Saint Mary’s Convent, Notre Dame, Indiana. Sister Elizabeth entered the Congregation from Washington, D.C., on September 8, 1952. Her initial profession of vows took place on August 15, 1955.
Please join us in prayer for Sister as we renew our faith in the resurrected Jesus and strengthen our hope that all the departed will be raised to eternal life.
Elizabeth May Raffo was born on October 29, 1932, in Washington, D.C., to parents Aloysius Frederick Raffo and Ruth Thelma (Waters) Raffo. Her father was a pressman at the Washington Post newspaper. A younger brother, Ronald, her only sibling, now lives with his wife in Fort Myers, Florida. Elizabeth, known as “Betty,” grew up in Washington, D.C., as a member of St. Francis de Sales Parish while attending Holy Name Parish Grade School. During these years, she entertained thoughts about the religious life. Consideration that this might be the right path for her was confirmed in high school as she came to know the Sisters of the Holy Cross at St. Patrick’s Academy, Washington, D.C. After graduation, she worked for a year in a government office before entering the Congregation in 1952.
Elizabeth received the religious name Sister Ronald Mary at the time of her initial profession of vows in 1955. When the option became available in the late 1960s, she returned to her baptismal name. For the first 14 years of her ministry, she was an elementary school teacher for primary grades in the following schools: St. Mary’s School, Alexandria, Virginia; St. Paul the Apostle School, New York City; and Blessed Sacrament School, Washington, D.C. During summers she earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Dunbarton College, Washington, D.C. She had the reputation of being an excellent teacher who encouraged each student to achieve his or her potential. She was also an involved and generous member of her local community and the Congregation.
From 1969 to 2002, she continued her educational ministry serving in Maryland schools as a principal and as a classroom teacher, often simultaneously. Six years at Holy Cross School in Garrett Park were followed by 10 years at St. Hugh’s School, now known as St. Hugh of Grenoble School, in Greenbelt. While at St. Hugh, she ministered to the youth groups of the parish. As part of her role, she played the guitar for their liturgies and accompanied them on retreats to Catoctin Mountain Park. Sister Elizabeth loved music and singing throughout her life. With the Congregation’s permission, she left St. Hugh in 1985 to care for her parents, especially her father, who no longer had the use of his legs. After the death of her father four years later, she was appointed principal at St. Bernard’s School in Riverdale, Maryland, where she served until 1997. Her last four years in elementary education were at St. Mary’s School in Landover Hills, Maryland.
In summer 1975, Sister was selected to participate with other Sisters of the Holy Cross in a program called the Moreau Institute. The study of community history and the life of the Congregation’s founder, Blessed Basil Anthony Moreau, included a pilgrimage to sites in France, Italy and Israel. Sister Elizabeth also enjoyed vacations with her good friend, Sister Vivian Mary Mastromatteo, CSC, and visits to her brother’s family in Florida.
Due to health concerns, she moved to Saint Angela Hall in Kensington, Maryland, in 2002, where she became an active member of the community, continuing to give of her time and talents in service to others. During these years, she was able to visit her mother frequently in a nearby nursing home until her mother’s death. Sister Elizabeth retired to Saint Mary’s, Notre Dame, Indiana, in 2013. Here she devoted herself to the ministry of prayer.
As mentioned, Sister Elizabeth loved music and singing, and music accompanied her throughout her life. During her last days, the radio played soft strains of classical music in her bedroom as sisters kept vigil with her in Saint Mary’s Convent. She did not speak to those who looked in on her. One knew her whole being was immersed in a sacred symphony as she prepared to meet her God. Sister Elizabeth Raffo died in the early evening light of July 3, 2023, well before sunset. Having lived in religious community for 70 summers, Sister Betty now sings and plays a new song, praising and thanking God in communion with all the saints.
We invite you to donate to the Ministry With the Poor Fund in Sister’s name.
—Written by Sister Grace Shonk, CSC
Sisters of the Holy Cross Archives and Records