Dominican Sisters of Houston
Sr. Camilla Micheletti, O.P. + (April1932 – April 2012)
Elvira Marie "Elva" Micheletti was born in Galveston on April 26, 1932 to Velma Rose and Emilio Micheletti. On Holy Thursday morning, just three weeks before her 80th birthday, Elva - our Sr. Camilla - completed her earthly journey ever so suddenly. Her beloved and only sister, Emelia Ann "Sissy", pre-deceased her by twelve years.
Elva was baptized at St. Mary's Cathedral Basilica on June 5, 1932. She made her First Communion and was confirmed by Bishop Christopher Byrne at Sacred Heart Parish. She attended Sacred Heart Elementary School and graduated from Dominican High School in 1949.
Elva entered our community on September 12, 1949, one of several of us high school '49ers who have known each other from those times onward. Members of Sr. Camilla's religious group include Srs. Fran Boddeker, Francis Marie Bordages, Celine Cota (R.I.P.), Mary V. Hugger and Thomas Margaret Zagst.
Sr. Camilla was also a musician and an artist. She served our liturgical and other music needs, and was chapel organist at the Michael DeBakey VA Medical Center from 1982 until her death. As to her art, it would be impossible to say how many homes are brightened by Camilla's paintings of roses, bluebonnets, seascapes and more. She became administrative assistant at St. Dominic Villa in 1984, and was in several ministries here ever since - 28 Villa years! But more significant than any of this, Sr. Camilla was always a joyful and loyal daughter of the Church and follower of Dominic, a woman of deep faith and strong values who never held a grudge, an interested and prayerful friend to everyone she met over all these years. She never forgot her students. She could and would tell you whom she taught, where and in what grade, with much detail about the family.
Sr. Camilla knew no strangers. She introduced any and all of us to anyone who came here. She would learn about their lives and their families, and would remain personally connected with them. In these later years, she conducted and responded to her telephone ministry. Countless are those who would call and ask for prayer, and we heard those prayers regularly at Mass. Part of the telephone ministry, though, was not directly about prayer. "Sr. Camilla from the Villa" would contact anyone whose business offered some item or product useful for the Villa and the convents. She picked up our annual chancery directories, and distributed the Herald here faithfully. She garnered calendars from four or five parishes to provide for all that she felt should have them, and because they came from different locations the receiver might even have a choice of preferred religious art! We are all well aware that in the weeks and months to come, there will be people in various business locations still inquiring about their friend, Sr. Camilla.
To say that she was talkative is a huge under-statement! We all know the stories of her childhood in Galveston, the family store, her mother's education with the sisters, her esteem for Bishop Byrne, her love for Sissy, her study of music, and so much more. When we would become impatient with all of her chatter - and I admit, yes, that did happen! - she would state that she planned to make a tape for use at her casket so that we would not forget her voice. She was even thinking of putting it on sale. So when she asked me some time ago to do her eulogy, I said yes but that it would be a rebuttal of the recording. I believe there is no tape, so this is an honest eulogy.
For years, Camilla drove the sisters everywhere, and was always far more generous than necessary. When, because of her health, she could no longer drive, I never heard her complain. Nor did she complain about any of her limitations of aging and health, which were ongoing and serious.
I take special note of when and how we are called home, and I am sure that Camilla's death was an extraordinary grace from God. It was swift; she did not have to leave the Villa - even temporarily. We could paraphrase tonight's reading from Isaiah: Behold our God, to whom she looked.let us rejoice and be glad, for God has saved her! As I looked at the bright Passover full moon on Thursday evening and Friday morning, I saw brilliance, clarity and beauty. Our loving God called her at the very beginning of the Holy Triduum! Her personal passion complete, she entered promptly into all that we celebrate at Easter - eternal life, lasting peace, the joy of God. I am confident, too, that Sr. Camilla is still immersed in her prayer ministry, but no longer with need of a phone or her phone cards. Her care for others continues, but now she has direct lines!
On the occasion of her Silver Jubilee, the San Bernardino Sun-Telegram quoted Sr. Camilla as saying that she "puts God first, people with whom she works second and herself last in order of priority." She was ever faithful to those priorities! Camilla noted the Prayer of St. Francis as her favorite, saying "Peace comes from love." The recessional song for that jubilee celebration was Peace My Friends. Allow the Lord's words in that hymn to be Sr. Camilla's tape for us:
Peace I leave with you, my friends.
To share His love is why I came,
Heloise Cruzat, O.P.