Thursday, May 23, 2024

Remembering Angela Orsini, Witness Contributor and Archives Volunteer

Angela Orsini, a volunteer in the Archives at the Diocese of Harrisburg since 2012 and a longtime friend of The Catholic Witness staff and author of the “Saint Spotlight” column, died on Feb. 1 at Carolyn’s House of Hospice of Central Pennsylvania.

Angie was a staple at the Diocesan Center prior to the pandemic, eager to share her love for history, the Church and writing. A graduate of St. Francis of Assisi School and Bishop McDevitt High School, she was a Division Secretary at the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission’s Division of Archives and Manuscripts, and the Division of Archival and Records Management Services for 30 years. She was also a Eucharistic Minister and parish archivist at St. Francis of Assisi in Harrisburg for nearly three decades.

Firm in her faith, and with a vast knowledge and enjoyment of history, Angie shared her talents with the Diocese – researching and cataloging in Archives, leading Catholic elementary school field trips at the Diocesan Center, and authoring a regular Witness column on the lives of saints, venerables and servants of God.

Angie gave in other ways, too – most notably through her story telling. She was well-traveled and a living treasure-trove of interesting facts about people and places, from U.S. presidents, Civil War battlefields and Church leaders to sites in Rome and Lourdes, among the many places she visited. And she loved sharing stories about her parents, the many priests she had come to know throughout her 73 years, and her loving cousins who were her faithful caretakers at the end of her life.

Whenever she visited us at The Witness – even as she took on the rigors of chemotherapy – Angie always came with a smile and words of encouragement. Sometimes she came with personal gifts too: holy cards or medals of patron saints during our time of need, inspiring photographs of days gone by, or programs from a special liturgy years ago.

And she loved to laugh and reminisce. She’d share memories of her dancing days from when she studied and taught dance, and took the stage at local theaters. “Believe it or not, there was a time when these gams could really move,” she’d say.

Angie enjoyed the camaraderie of those at the Diocesan Center, especially over lunches and coffee in the dining room, at Masses for employees, and at the annual Christmas party, where she’d always be the first one to put on a pair of reindeer antlers.

The drain of cancer and the treatments in her fight against it took their toll on Angie, who, even in the most trying times of her illness, still found valiant ways to write for The Witness and hold out hope for a return to volunteering in the Archives.

In tribute to our friend, we reprint here two of her “Saint Spotlight” pieces on her favorite saints – Thérèse of Lisieux and Bernadette – to whom she referred as being among her “many friends in Heaven.”

(Dinner photo courtesy of Meg Ryan. Historical photo courtesy of Diocesan Archives,)

By Jen Reed, The Catholic Witness

Angela Orsini, left, is pictured with fellow Diocesan Archives volunteer Regina Zogby at a Diocesan Christmas dinner several years ago. Angela, who also served as a contributor to The Catholic Witness, died on Feb. 1.
Angela Orsini is seen in this photo with Father Baker greeting Pope John Paul II at the Papal Palace in Rome on June 30, 1989.
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