Congregational Register No. 459
First Profession 26.04.1960
Aged: 82 years
Maria Pia Parlato was born in Gragnano, Naples, Italy. She had three brothers, one of whom was a doctor, and one sister. Maria Pia studied medicine at the University of Naples. She had some initial difficulties with her studies, as she was also running the household. She was still a medical student when she met Mother Mary at the Clinica in Naples and became interested in joining MMM. She was drawn to both Mother Mary and the MMM focus on mother and child.
It was suggested that she come to Dublin in 1955 to continue her studies as a postulant. This she did, graduating in medicine in Naples in 1957. After an internship in Naples, she returned to Drogheda for her novitiate.
Following profession, Maria Pia was assigned to Nigeria and our hospital in Obudu. She was noted for her attentiveness to her patients and her availability at any time day or night. Her special loves were obstetrics and sick children. Many children were named Maria, and to be sure that it was known that they were named for the Sister doctor, Parlato was often used, too – for male and female alike! She knew everyone and everyone knew her, and she had a great ability to reach out to peoples of different religions and ethnic backgrounds. She had time for everyone and they loved her for it.
During her thirty plus years in Nigeria, Maria Pia also worked in Ogoja and Abakaliki. On two different occasions in the 1980s, she worked in Chiulo Hospital, Angola, in response to medical shortages there.
Outside of her medical work, Sr. Maria Pia was noted for her love of animals; cats, dogs, and birds were an important part of her life and she showered affection on all that she found. Obudu house was very ‘cat friendly’. She missed her beloved pets very much when she returned to Europe. Maria Pia also loved literature, music and art – in fact, all forms of beauty. She waxed lyrical about the sunrises and sunsets she saw in Chiulo. She also had a great fondness for Edith Stein, Theresa of Avila, and of the Carmelites in general. This was not surprising because she had a rich contemplative side to her nature.
Although she was assigned to Beechgrove community in Ireland, Maria Pia found the Irish weather difficult and spent most of her remaining life in Naples. She loved living in Italy and being close to family members but she also missed her MMM family.
Maria Pia died late in the evening of 28 May 2005 with her family at her bedside – ‘an old woman full of days’. She is buried in Naples.