MARIA FELICITAS BORTONI
Early in the morning of February 12th, after a day of intense suffering, Maria Felicitas Bortoni passed from death to Life. She was 71 years old and a founding member of the Mission of Divine Mercy.
Born Elsa Bortoni on August 31, 1947, in Monterrey, Mexico, she was the third of eight children born to Mario and Elizabeth Ornelas Bortoni. In the midst of a traditional upbringing she distinguished herself as a skilled horsewoman, and frequently performed with a troop of charras, or skilled female riders, at an arena in Monterrey.
Upon graduating from high school she entered the working world and for the next two and a half decades held positions in banking and commercial enterprises.
In her late forties, during a time of transition, she began to attend Father John Mary’s Masses at a local Parish in Monterrey and to become friends with some of the parishioners there. When some of that group began to form a small new Community in south Texas she committed herself to the Lord and followed. In 1999 she became a consecrated laywoman, receiving the name “Maria Felicitas of Our Blessed Mother.”
The next twenty-three years of her life were poured out in generous service to the Lord and to His people.
In 2003-04 Maria Felicitas was requesting permanent residency status in the United States. With the help of Congressman Lamar Smith and the intercession of many friends, her case helped to clarify the application of Immigration Law in Texas, specifically with regard to the category of religious workers.
The last fourteen years of her life she quietly carried the Cross of recurring bouts of cancer while she oversaw the material needs of the Community, and shouldered the increasingly demanding schedule of the O’Callaghan Center kitchen at the Mission.
Last fall she became visibly more frail. She went to Mass on Christmas Day and after that did not leave the house again. On the evening of February 11 - Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes and World Day of Prayer for the sick - she received the Apostolic Pardon; in the early hours of the 12th she went to the Lord; and in the Hill Country of Texas for the first time in many days, the sun came out and the sky was blue.
She is survived by the members of the Mission of Divine Mercy of Canyon Lake, Texas, and by the following siblings: Sylvia (Juan); Adriana (Luis); Mario (Maria de Lourdes); Guillermo (Celia Maria); Mariela; and Arturo (Miriam). She is pre-deceased by her parents and her brother Enrique.
A Rosary and Chaplet for the repose of her soul will be celebrated at 7pm on Friday, February 15, at St. Joseph’ Chapel at the Mission. The funeral Mass will be celebrated there on Saturday morning at 10am.