Obituaries, Week of July 29, 2023

Remembered as a ‘Great Priest’

Father Kenneth J. Calder – a retired priest of the Diocese of Brooklyn, died Thursday, July 20, 2023 at age 92. Father Calder served the Diocese of Brooklyn as Pastor of the Parish of American Martyrs in Bayside. He also served as Parochial Vicar for the Parishes of Our Lady of Angels in Brooklyn, Saints Joachim and Anne in Queens Village, Mary Queen of Heaven in Brooklyn, and Saint Patrick, also in Brooklyn. 

“He was a great parish priest, truly beloved by so many of the parishioners he served. His ultimate goal was to give people a positive experience of church,” said Msgr. Kevin Noone, who lived with him for 11 years at Our Lady of Angels. “He was particularly good at ministering to senior citizen congregants.” 

A funeral Mass was celebrated for Father Calder Wednesday, July 26 at Our Lady of Angels Church. Burial followed at Holy Rood Cemetery, Westbury, N.Y.

Sister Maria Rӱpkema – a Sister of St. Joseph for 66 years, died in Maria Regina Residence, Brentwood, N.Y., on June 19, 2023, at age 86. Her former religious name was Sister Miriametta Rӱpkema. 

Born in The Netherlands on Christmas Day 1936, Maria with her family emigrated to the United States, where she attended St. Benedict Joseph Labre Elementary School in Richmond Hill, and The Mary Louis Academy in Jamaica. Upon entering the Sisters of St. Joseph, she began higher education at Brentwood College (BS 1964) and subsequently Brooklyn College (MS in Reading) and Fordham University for Administration, all of which prepared her for her ministry in Education. 

Sister Maria taught elementary school students at St. Rita’s in Long Island City, St. Charles Borromeo and St. Angela Hall Academy in Brooklyn, followed by St. Teresa of Avila, South Ozone Park, where she taught kindergarten, did parish ministry, and became principal there (1981 – 1995). 

From 1996 to 1998 she was principal at OLPH, South Ozone Park, followed by a post as Director of Religious Education at St. Benedict Joseph Labre Parish until 2011. 

Her giftedness and generous spirit called her to RCIA, Religious Education for Children, Parish Adult Formation and as Chairperson for Faith Formation Clusters in 10 parishes. 

Sister Maria was extremely proud of her Dutch heritage, and in 1963 her ministry was acclaimed in the Friesland provinces and national Catholic newspapers there. 

Sister Maria’s love of learning and kindness to students remain etched in their lives. Sister Maria lived at St. Joseph Convent for 8 years, and a Maria Regina Residence for two years until her death. 

Her funeral was held on June 30, 2023, at Maria Regina Residence Chapel, Brentwood. Bishop Ray Chappetto presided, with concelebrants Father Seth N. AwoDoku and Father Chris Bethge. Interment was in St. John’s Cemetery, Queens Village, N.Y.

Sister Maria Martin Finn – a Sister of St. Joseph for 75 years, died on June 26, 2023 in Maria Regina Residence, Brentwood, N.Y. at age 93. 

Sister Maria grew up in Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Queens, and attended elementary school there and subsequently, St. Joseph Juniorate, a high school for potential Sisters of St. Joseph. 

Education was Sister’s ministry and in a special way, math, although her BS degree from St. John’s University was in History. As a teacher in elementary grades, Sister Maria began at St. Mary’s Nativity, Flushing, and continued at St. Rita’s, Long Island City, until 1955, when she moved to Brooklyn schools — St Athanasius, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and Visitation. 

In 1962, she was called to educate students in Rockville Centre schools — St. Christopher’s, St Anne’s, St Philip Neri (1962 – 1983), after which she returned to St. Christopher’s in Baldwin until 2005. Her math acumen was renowned and is remembered by students near and far. 

Sister Maria’s outgoing nature, fostered by her very large and loving family, urged her to volunteer at camp and in Religious Education with deaf children in Brooklyn. Upon retirement, she was a teacher in the Religious Education Program at St. Christopher’s. 

Having followed in the footsteps of her aunt, Sister Mary Clarisse CSJ, Sister Maria was an outstanding Sister of St. Joseph, with single minded goals in the service of God, and with special devotion to Mary. 

Her funeral Mass was held on July 11, 2023, in Sacred Heart Chapel, Brentwood, celebrated by Msgr. Steven Camp, followed by her burial in Calvary Cemetery, Brentwood.