Sister Jacoba Rzegocki enters eternal life

MERIDEN, CT (12-13-2009) - Sister Jacoba Rzegocki, FSE, entered eternal life today while surrounded by her Franciscan Community and her family at Paul VI Center in Meriden. Sister Jacoba, 80, prepared to meet her Spouse, Jesus Christ, for the past 25 years as a vowed woman religious in the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist. Prior to entering religious life, Sister Jacoba was known as Katherine (Kay) Rzegocki, wife of Walter Rzegocki of Meriden. Walter and Kay were married for 29 years and were the parents of eight children. They were among the first couples to welcome the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist to Meriden in 1970, and remained friends and co-workers of the Sisters while the Community was being established. Walter Rzegocki died in 1979, and in 1981 Katherine requested entrance into the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist. She saw this new life as a fulfillment of her sacramental marriage to Walter.

Sister Jacoba (Katherine) was born September 25, 1929, in Hartford, the daughter of William and Johanna Cotter. The family moved to Meriden when she was three years old. She graduated from Meriden High School and soon became engaged to Walter Rzegocki, a native of Meriden and a sergeant in the United States Marine Corps. They were married on May 6, 1950, at St. Joseph Church, Meriden. Katherine was an active member of St. Joseph Parish and the Meriden Council of Catholic Women, a leader of the Stella Maris Mothers' Circle, and a volunteer with the American Red Cross and Meriden Hospital. She was employed at International Silver Co. and, after raising her children, she was employed as a legal secretary at Jackson O'Keefe Dunn and Murray Law Office in Hartford.

Sister Jacoba celebrated her 25th jubilee of vows on July 12, 2009. Pictured with her are (from left) Sister Patricia Glass who celebrated 50 years; Mother Shaun Vergauwen, Mother General; and Mother Miriam Seiferman, Vicar General. Sister Jacoba's children joined in the celebration of their mother's 25th jubilee. From left, Tom Rzegocki, Mary Marquis, Stephen Rzegocki, Jane Escobar, James Rzegocki, Margaret Austin and Michael Rizocki.

Katherine received the habit of the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist and her religious name, Sister Jacoba, when she became a novice. Her name comes from Lady Jacoba of Settesoli, a friend of Saint Francis. A generous, noble widow from Rome, Lady Jacoba provided a place for Saint Francis to stay during his visits to Rome and travelled to Assisi to be at his side when he was dying.

Sister Jacoba received an Associate Degree in Applied Science from Briarwood College in 1988. She worked as an assistant finance manager for Franciscan Home Care and Hospice Care for the past 25 years, and continued full time up until three weeks ago when she was hospitalized for complications due to lung cancer.

During her years in the Franciscan Community, Sister Jacoba lived in the Franciscan centers in Lowell, Michigan, Shaw Island, Washington, and Meriden. In July 2009 she celebrated her 25th jubilee of vows.

Sister Jacoba is survived by the Franciscan Sisters and Brothers of the Eucharist; her sons and daughters-in-law Michael and Judith Rizocki of Vernon, Connecticut; James and Diane Rzegocki of Seattle; Stephen and Kelleanna Rzegocki of Meriden; and Tom and Mary Jane Rzegocki of Seattle; her daughters and their spouses, Jane and Louis Escobar of Portsmouth, Rhode Island; Margaret and Russ Austin of East Hampton, Connecticut; and Mary and Phillip Marquis of Esko, Minnesota. Sister Jacoba's grandchildren are Meredith and Jonathan Rizocki; Francis, Claire, Walter, Gwynedd, Nathan, Katherine, David, Kate and Meghan Rzegocki; Matthew, Stephen, Christopher, Kate, Hannah and Amelia Marquis. She has two great-grandchildren, Vivian Rzegocki and Ann Marie Marquis. She is also survived by her sister, Jane Cotter of Meriden, and her brother, Dr. William Cotter and his wife Alice of North Charleston, South Carolina, and nieces and nephews.

The Franciscan Sisters and those who know Sister Jacoba consider the geranium, a bright red flowering plant, as her special flower. The geranium pictured above was a gift from Rev. Robert Tucker, a long-time friend.

Preceding Sister Jacoba in death are twelve Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist - Mother Josina Roth, Mother Alfredine Richard, Mother Rose Cecile Korst, Mother Ann Marie Kerper, Mother Immaculata Billow, Mother Teresa Buchheit, Mother Ann Boehm, Mother Margaret Boehm, Mother Chrysologa Perkins, Mother Mona Brunner, Mother Colleen Kimbro, Sister Mary Chiara Rezende, and a Franciscan Brother of the Eucharist, Brother Angelo Elliott. Family members who preceded her in death are her husband, Walter Rzegocki, her baby son Nathan, her parents, her sisters Ann Smith and Marion Klinski, her brother Robert Cotter and his wife Geraldine.

A public vigil will be held Tuesday, December 15, from 4:30-8:00 p.m. with a Rosary at 5:30 p.m. and a Prayer Service at 7:30 p.m. at St. Joseph Church, 22 Goodwill Avenue, Meriden. The Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Wednesday, December 16 at 10:00 a.m. at St. Joseph Church, followed by burial in the Franciscan Sisters' Transitus Cemetery.

Sister Patricia Glass, FSE, Funeral Director, and Wallingford Funeral Home are in charge of arrangements.