Virginia Falk M.A. ’96 entered the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (FMM) on Sept. 18, 1951, at North Providence. She pronounced her first vows March 19, 1954, and her final vows on March 19, 1957. Virginia served as a teacher for over 30 years in the United States, India, and Africa. She served as a chaplain and music practitioner in various churches and facilities, realizing her lifelong dream of ministry to the sick and dying—and to serve through the use of music. Virginia continued her music ministry at LaGrange, Georgia. She led a small group from the Catholic parish, which used music and sound for healing. She introduced liturgical music and cantering, training others for this ministry. Born an identical twin in Monroe, Louisiana, Virginia lost both parents before the age of ten. Grandparents in New Orleans raised her and her twin. At an early age she felt a strong attraction to St. Francis, to Africa, and to missionary life. She discovered the FMMs at the age of 12 and began a five-year correspondence, after which she entered the Fruit Hill Novitiate in 1951. After first profession, Virginia was sent to study at Emmanuel College in Boston, earning a B.A. in English. She was assigned to Fall River, and at Espirito Santo School a teaching ministry, which lasted 30 years. Although her dream of Africa was stronger than ever, she spent another six years in America—in Massachusetts, Cincinnati, and St. Louis, including graduate studies at Boston College in English. In 1964 Virginia sailed at last to the foreign missions via Rome. She was missioned not to Africa, the land of her dreams, but to India, where she spent seven and a half years teaching all levels in the schools and college, until ill health forced her to return to the U.S. After a year of recuperation, she was assigned to the province of Ghana/Liberia, where she spent the next decade, teaching and setting up a seminary library. During those years, Virginia had the opportunity to do a ten-month renewal course at AMECEA Pastoral Institute in Kenya. Virginia was missioned to the U.S. in 1983 and was assigned to the Navajo Reservation for the next five years, teaching in a public high school and coordinating music in the parish. In 1988, at the onset of burnout, she knew she had to leave the teaching ministry, which she had loved. This was a great turning point. It was time to realize a double-faceted dream that had been born in early childhood years; to work with the sick and the dying and to serve through the use of music. Virginia became certified as a chaplain and worked in AIDS ministry until she began studies at SCU for a M.A. in liturgical music. In 1996 she was assigned to Florida. Virginia became a hospital chaplain and was able to fulfill requirements for a certification as music practitioner from the Music for Healing and Transition Program. She started a Southeastern area for the program and served as area coordinator for two years, facilitating the training and certifying music practitioners from Florida. Virginia later started a guild for music practitioners and others working with music or sound for healing. The training program and the guild continue to expand and fulfill a genuine need in Florida. Virginia served at Maria Manor, a long-term care facility, as chaplain and music practitioner. To their Care of the Dying Program she added the dimension of healing music at the bedside, singing chants and playing soft free rhythm music to aid those at the final days or hours of their lives in the task of unbinding with all they have loved and letting go of earthly life. Virginia believed that this was the work for which she was created, and that all the studies and experiences of her last 60 years as an FMM had been stepping-stones to this ministry. Virginia continued her music ministry at LaGrange. She led a small group from the Catholic parish and used music and sound for healing. She introduced liturgical music and cantering, training others for this ministry. She courageously accepted her terminal illness and went peacefully home to God on Sept. 21, 2013.

08 Nov 2018