Sr. Charlotte Rigali, cardinal’s sister, dies at 91

Sister Charlotte Rigali, CSJ

Funeral Mass was celebrated March 28 at Carondelet Center, Brentwood, for St. Joseph of Carondelet Sister Charlotte Rigali, 91, who died March 24.

The oldest of seven children, Sister Rigali was the sister of Cardinal Justin Rigali, retired archbishop of Philadelphia, and Jesuit Father Norbert Rigali, her two surviving siblings.

Born in Los Angeles to Henry and Frances Rigali who had moved from Massachusetts to California not long before she was born, Charlotte Rigali graduated from Catholic Girls High School in Los Angeles, and entered the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet in September 1941. She received the habit and her religious name of Sister Marian on March 19, 1942, made her first vows in 1944 and final vows in 1947.

Earning a Bachelor’s degree in English from Mount St. Mary’s College and a Master’s in English from Loyola University, Sister Rigali taught in elementary schools for nine years, and on the high school level for 19 years.

In 1973, Sister Rigali went to Rome to study canon law at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas, earning a License in Canon Law in 1983 and becoming a Doctor in Canon Law in 1986. During those years, she returned to her Baptismal name, Charlotte.

Returning to California, she ministered in the marriage tribunal in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and the Diocese of Monterey. By the end of 1989, she had moved to St. Louis and was serving as a canon lawyer at the archdiocesan tribunal. From that year until December of 2013, Charlotte lived in St. Louis, part of the church and CSJ community, and where her brother Justin served as archbishop before going to Philadelphia

In later years, after her retirement from the marriage tribunal, Sister Rigali was an active volunteer in the cathedral parish where she lived, and enjoyed friendships with the parish community.

During the last months of her life in retirement community, she received the loving care of the staff. She was predeceased by three brothers and a sister. Burial was at Holy Cross Cemetery, Culver City.


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Have you ever noted how we spontaneously react to a perceived threat? Faced with a threat, our primal instincts tend to take over and we instantly freeze over and begin to shut all the doors opening to warmth, gentleness and empathy inside us.

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September 21, 2014

  • Sunday, September 21

    “Paths to Just Peace: Interfaith Celebration of International Peace Day,” cosponsored by Pax Christi Southern California and Campaign Nonviolence, 12:30-5 p.m., Holy Spirit Retreat Center, 4316 Lanai Rd., Encino. (818) 784-4515

    “Meet & Greet,” Mass and reception with Bishop Oscar Solis, hosted by Simbang Gabi ministry, 10 a.m., Immaculate Conception Church, 740 S. Shamrock ave., Monrovia. (626) 233-7313.

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