CLYDE – Benedictine Sister of Perpetual Adoration Mary Frances Soto, OSB, passed away on July 4, 2016.
She was born Jan. 3, 1934, in San Elizario, Texas, to Juan and Cecilia Carbajal Soto. Maria Francisca was the second oldest of 16 children, which included seven girls and nine boys. She grew up in Santa Rosa, Mexico, where she attended grade school in a building that her father helped build.
When Maria Francisca was 20 years old, she left for El Paso to work for a family as a housekeeper and a caregiver for children. In 1964 she moved to Los Angeles to work for another family. She then moved to San Diego. She was a member of the Legion of Mary, working to bring young Catholics back to the Church. She also sang with her parish choir and a mariachi group.
While attending church in San Diego, Maria Francisca spotted a pamphlet about the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. “One Sunday a friend asked me if I was interested in visiting their convent in San Diego,” she said. “We went and arrived just in time for the third Sunday procession.”
She was attracted to exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, and it was the Benedictine Sisters’ devotion to it that was important to her during her discernment process.
Maria Francisca entered the Benedictine Sisters on Sept. 3, 1967. She made her first monastic profession on April 2, 1970, taking the name Sister Mary Frances. She made her final profession on April 8, 1975.
In October 1987 she deepened her religious commitment during the rite of Consecration of Virgins, at which Bishop Sullivan presided. She celebrated her Silver Jubilee in 2000, an occasion of much joy.
As a Benedictine Sister, Sister Mary Frances lived in the monasteries in St. Louis; Clyde, Missouri; San Diego; Tucson, Arizona and Mundelein, Illinois.
Sister Mary Frances’ works included preparing flowers for the altar, helping in the laundry room, the sewing room, as a sacristan and in the printery. Most of her time was spent in the altar bread shipping department where she worked from 1986 until 2010.
Sister Mary Frances would sing for the Sisters in her low but beautiful voice. She had a good sense of humor but was shy with most people. She was dedicated and faithful to her prayer life and often prayed in the balcony at night in Clyde. She spent much of her free time reading and taking long walks in the outdoors.
She became a resident of Our Lady of Rickenbach, the Sisters’ healthcare facility in Clyde, in 2010. Sister Mary Frances was mostly bedfast and unable to communicate in her final year. The Lord’s mercy reached down to her on July 4 as she was surrounded by and being prayed for by her sister, Elvira Carbajal, and her two nieces, Evangeline Ramos and Cecilia Aguilar, fellow religious Sisters, staff members and hospice care.
Sister Mary Frances is survived by her sister Elvira; her brothers, Jesus, Juan, Antonio, Lorenzo, Santiago and their spouses; nieces; nephews and her monastic family. Her funeral liturgy and burial took place on July 6, 2016.