Obituary: Sister Mary Cecile Amore, 111

Sister Mary Cecile Amore, a member of the School Sisters of Notre Dame, died on Feb. 18, a day after her 111th birthday. Sisters and staff were with her during the last several days and family members came to wish her a happy birthday. During her life, she was an organist, music teacher, teacher of voice, piano, and violin, and an excellent seamstress.
Antoinette Marie Amore was born on Feb. 17, 1905, in Pietracatella, Italy. Her father went to America when she was two months old. About six years later, he sent for his wife and daughter. The family lived in Bridgeport and grew with the births of her sister, Louise, and two brothers, Patrick and Michael.

Antoinette studied at Barnum Elementary School in Bridgeport. From the time she was a little girl, Antoinette wanted to take music lessons but financial difficulties occurred when she was in the eighth grade and was obliged to leave school and go to work to help her family. At the age of 14, she began to do “bench” work at a company in Bridgeport. She was paid for piecework and was so proud when she bought home $10 earned in one week when she usually earned $7.

Antoinette Marie became very sick and could not work for about six months. Her mother prayed hard and when her daughter recovered, took her to a piano store. Antoinette picked out a new piano that cost $700. In her biography she wrote: “My poor mother was paying a few dollars a week for a piano long after I entered the convent.” She took lessons at 50 cents each from a Sister at St. John Nepomucene Convent. In three years, practicing three hours a day, she accomplished five years’ work.

While taking lessons, Antoinette Marie began feeling a desire to become a religious. This desire grew and she asked permission to enter the convent. Her parents consented. She received the bonnet on Dec. 8, 1924, and heard her mother say, “What God wants, I want.”

As a candidate, she helped out at St. Ann in Baltimore and St. Patrick in Cumberland, Md. Antoinette was received as a novice on Aug. 17, 1926, and, to the delight of her mother, was given the name Mary Cecile.

Following the novitiate, Cecile was sent to Holy Angels Academy in Fort, Lee, N.J. She was professed in 1928 and remained at Holy Angels until 1935. Sister taught at the following missions: Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, Baltimore (1935-1936); College of Notre Dame, Baltimore (1936-1937); St. Joseph, Washington, D.C. (1937-1939); St. Jerome, Baltimore (1939-1940); St. Joseph, Garden City, N.Y. (1940-1945); Holy Angels Academy, N.J. (1945-1946); and Mt. Carmel Parish, Camden, N.J. (1946). Cecile returned to Connecticut where she spent 54 years until she retired to Villa Notre Dame in Wilton: St. John Nepomucene, Bridgeport (1946-1966); Holy Rosary, Bridgeport (1966-1973); St Charles, Bridgeport (1973-1974), and St. Teresa, Trumbull (1974-2000).

During these years, Cecile was parish organist, taught music, and gave private lessons in piano, violin, and voice. She directed choirs of adults and older children. Her music studies led to a bachelor’s degree in 1939 and a master’s degree in 1945, from The Catholic University of America. She was commended for “her rich fund of musical knowledge, both instructionally and theoretically” and for the quality of student concerts in schools where she taught. In her later years, besides giving piano lessons, Cecile made grocery lists and did weekly shopping. A good cook and an excellent seamstress, she often practiced her skills.

In 2000, Cecile became a resident of Villa Notre Dame in Wilton and in 2010, she moved over to Lourdes Health Care Center. At Lourdes, she enjoyed reading poetry, having her hair done, listening to classical and old-time musicals, playing dominoes and conversing with children. She liked company. It was said by many that “Sister Cecile will captivate your heart and her smile can light up a room”.

Sister’s health declined gradually and she looked forward to meeting God whom she had served so faithfully during her decades of music and love. This happened on the day after her birthday — a new year of life eternal.

Sister Cecile was preceded in death by her sister, Louise, and her brothers, Patrick and Michael. She is mourned by her nieces, nephews, cousins, their families, friends, and by her community, the School Sisters of Notre Dame.

A Christian Wake Service was held on Feb. 21, in the Chapel of Villa Notre Dame. The Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on Monday, Feb. 22, by Father Thomas Elliott, CSC., chaplain. Burial Followed at St. Mary Cemetery in Bethel.