Obituary for Sister Luke Marie Vito, FMSJ

Posted on: 31 October 2023

Author:Sister Joan Kerley


Who died in Franciscan Convent, Burnley, on the 30th October 2023

On August 12th 1933 Lucia Vito was born in Manila, Philippines and baptised on December 31st of the same year. Her parents were Raymundo and Lucia Vito and she was the seventh of eight brothers and sisters. She graduated from the university of Santo Tomas with the degree of Doctor of Medicine in July 1959.

Lucia entered the novitiate in May of 1964 in Albany USA, making her First Profession in December 1965, and her Final Vows in December 1970. She chose the name Luke Marie. Sister Ruth, who studied medicine with Luke Marie, entered the congregation inspired by an account of Luke Marie’s missionary work in Kenya as recounted in our Herald.

Between 1968 and 1971, she formed part of the FMSJ community in the Philippines, that helped Bishop De Witt with the formation of the Mensa Domini Sisters, while exercising her medical profession.

But most of Sr. Luke Marie’s many years of active apostolate were spent in Kenya. There she held many responsible medical positions and her skills as a surgeon and her medical knowledge made a huge difference to the lives of great numbers of sick people. She spent time as a doctor and surgeon in Victoria Hospital in Kisumu, Asumbi Mission Hospital, Kaplong Hospital, the Mater Hospital and Kenyatta Teaching Hospital in Nairobi as well as serving as a doctor for the Catholic University of East Africa in Nairobi. Luke Marie was also the Medical Coordinator for Kisumu diocese for several years during which time she worked in mostly rural communities in community based health care including training health workers who volunteered in their local areas. In later years she managed a food programme in Kibera slums in Nairobi and, when the HIV/AIDs pandemic started she was involved in the care of children living with Aids in a centre run by the Cotolengo Sisters and in Nyumbani – the Children of God Relief Institution. Sister Luke Marie was always willing to help any of our Sisters, who needed medical treatment, get the appropriate attention.

In 2004 Luke Marie followed a sabbatical programme in Berkley, USA after which she transferred to the Irish region. There she continued to be active, generous and prayerful. She helped with a food programme for the elderly, was spiritual director to a group of people originally from the Philippines and took part in the Prolife Movement. She lived in our community in Cork until 11th August 2022 when she transferred to Burnley following a stroke. Her health deteriorated in recent weeks necessitating constant visits from district nurses who took excellent care of her along with the care staff and our Sisters in our community in Burnley.

May she rest in Peace