On March 3 Mother Maria de las Victorias del Sagrado Corazon died at the Monastery of the Blessed Sacrament in Anchorage. She was 84.
According to a notice from the Anchorage Archdiocese she was “peacefully surrounded” by her fellow cloistered Catholic nuns at the moment of her death.
A viewing will be held at the Anchorage monastery (2645 East 72nd Ave.) on Friday, March 6 from 3-9 pm. with a rosary at 7 p.m. A funeral Mass will be held there on Saturday, March 7, at 11 a.m. with a public viewing 30 minutes prior to Mass.
Father Tom Lilly and Father Mark Francis will celebrate Mass and retired Anchorage Archbishop Francis Hurley, who originally invited the cloistered nuns to Alaska 30 years ago, will be in attendance.
Mother Victorias died just nine days after one of her fellow sisters, Mother Maria Josefina, passed away at age 96 in the same monastery. Both women were founding members of the Anchorage community.
Mother Victorias was born on April 22, 1930, in Guadalajara, Mexico. From age 22 she was a member of the Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, beginning her religious life in 1952 and making final vows in 1954.
She moved to Alaska on May 15, 1985 with seven other sisters to found Blessed Sacrament Monastery and was the first mother superior, serving in that position from 1985 to 2009.
As a member of the Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, Mother Victorias lived a life of prayer, work and adoration of the Eucharist. Mostly she lived in silence, behind the walls of the attractive but modest Blessed Sacrament Monastery.
Many Catholics may be surprised to learn that there are still orders of religious who live sequestered from the world. But monasteries are an enduring part of the church’s legacy. The Sisters of Perpetual Adoration usually commit themselves to one monastery for life, and only leave home for doctors’ appointments or other necessities. A volunteer even takes care of grocery shopping for them.
Unlike the more outwardly active orders, which often have a very visible impact on the community, Mother Victorias and her monastery sisters have ministered in more subtle ways — but equally powerful for those who believe in the power of prayer.
The Sisters of Perpetual Adoration were founded in the 19th century, and over half of their more than 80 monasteries are located in Mexico. In 1985, Anchorage Archbishop Francis Hurley, now retired, visited Mexico and invited the sisters to begin a presence in Anchorage. The archbishop had grown up near a monastery of their order in San Francisco.
The Kim Syren family donated the five acres to build the monastery, and an outpouring of community support and labor went into the structure.
The sisters in Anchorage pray behind a tall cloister grill; local Catholics often join them for Mass and adoration on the public side of the grill in the attractive, quiet chapel.
Although the monastery is frequently shrouded in silence, the sisters have recreation times filled with talk and laughter.
In past interview with the Catholic Anchor, Mother Maria de las Victorias explained that the sisters keep busy with “our first priority, Holy Adoration” and have plenty to do with cleaning, cooking, and a large greenhouse.