Beloved religious sister of St. Peter’s in Warwick dies of COVID-19

The Warwick community is mourning the loss of a well-known religious sister of St. Peter's Church who passed away over the weekend from COVID-19.

WARWICK, R.I. (WLNE) – The Warwick community is mourning the loss of a well-known religious sister of St. Peter’s Church who passed away over the weekend from COVID-19.

Sister Mary Angelus Gabrielle, 93, died on Saturday after contracting the virus.

The Westerly native was living at Mount St. Rita Health Centre in Cumberland for the past several years, but before that, she lived much of her life in the Pawtuxet Village neighborhood, next-door to St. Peter’s Tri-Parish School where she served as principal for 29 years before retiring in 2000.

“She lived in the little cottage next-door and she would come over for a lot of our events, so even new people, new families got to know her.”

Joan Sickinger has led the school as principal for the last 13 years and is retiring this June. She was hired 40 years ago by Sister Mary Angelus.

“The school wouldn’t be here without her. She impacted not just the school but a lot of lives. A lot of people loved sister.”

Sickinger said the parish and school family was sad to hear of the news of her passing but weren’t surprised, as her health had declined in recent years. Sister Mary had been treated at Miriam Hospital for the virus, but was then moved to hospice care, Sickinger said.

“I had heard that she got the COVID virus and of course at her age, I think it just took over,” said Sininger. “In my mind, I’m thinking maybe she didn’t even want to fight it because, like I said, she lived a good life. I think she was ready to meet God and Mary. I really do.”

Barbara Rossi, secretary of the school for the past 42 years, was also hired by the sister. She said she’s received countless calls since the news of her illness spread.

“Everybody in the area, Cranston, Warwick, Providence… Everybody knew her. Since the news of her getting sick even, my telephone at home and in here have been just hotbeds, ‘How’s sister? What’s she doing?'”

Rossi said the two supported one another throughout the years.

“She used to carry her money in a little white envelope. She would call it her ‘Aunt Mary envelope’ and she would sign things to me ‘mom’. So we were very close. When my husband passed away she was my rock,” said Rossi.

Sickinger said she’ll always remember Sister Mary’s smile and her contagious laugh.

“She had the greatest little giggle and the greatest facial expressions. You knew when she was not happy and you knew when she was!”

While the two women are mourning their great loss, they said her death is bittersweet, as she’s no longer suffering, and is finally at peace.

“I didn’t want her to recover to a point where she would live the rest of her life on either oxygen or a vent,” said Rossi. “She’s at peace now. This was her life, she was dedicated to God.”

© WLNE-TV 2020

Categories: Coronavirus, News, Rhode Island, Warwick