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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In our time

Archbishop José H. Gomez

As I write, I’ve just read the sad news that 90 Christians have been kidnapped from two villages in Syria. Of course we were all shocked earlier this month by the news that 21 Coptic Christians were executed in Syria — killed, as Pope Francis said, “for the mere fact of being Christians.” 

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February 28, 2015

  • Saturday, February 28

    “Catholics and the Civil Rights Movement”: An African American Ministry Forum with Dr. Cecilia Moore, 9:30-11:30 a.m., University Hall, 1775 1 LMU Drive, Los Angeles. 2015 will mark the 50th anniversary of the Selma March, which led to the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, a landmark achievement of the 1960s American Civil Rights Movement. With an eye towards the future, a weekend forum will be held to examine the role of American Catholicism in the Selma Campaign, its history and theology, and what it can teach us about confronting today’s social justice issues in the Church and greater American society. $40. (310) 338-2799.

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