Sister Emma Marie Balaguer - North Providence

Sister Emma Marie Balaguer - North Providence

Sister Emma Marie Balaguer (M. Philippine Duchesne), Franciscan Missionary of Mary of Ein Karim Community, died Nov. 16, 2013, at St. Antoine Residence in North Smithfield. She was born in Queens, N.Y., the daughter of the late Manuel M. and Emma (Titus) Balaguer.

She entered the Institute of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary, Sept. 16, 1954, at North Providence. She pronounced her first vows on Sept. 17, 1957, and her final vows on Sept. 17, 1960.

The second youngest of five children, Emma was born on Christmas Day 1932. Early in 1937, massive streptococcal infection hit the city and all the children were sick with tonsillitis or ear infections. Emma’s ear infection moved into meningitis, which was almost fatal. Queens General Hospital had recorded 10,000 cases with only 15 survivals all severely damaged. With her parent’s permission, Emma received experimental Sulfanilamide and was the first complete recovery.

One year, her high school class sang Christmas carols for the children at Divine Providence Shelter on 45th Street in Manhattan, N.Y. This was her first meeting with the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary. Attracted by the children, she spoke to the provincial superior about entering, as she wanted to be a missionary. She wanted to enter after high school, but was offered a scholarship to Manhattanville and advised to accept it. After graduation in 1954, she entered the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary in North Providence, R.I., in September.

After pronouncing her first vows, she was missioned to St. Francis Hospital in Roslyn, N.Y., to work in the Lab. Only two days later, her mission was changed to going to Emmanuel College, Boston, for one year as preparation for Medical School at St. Louis University. She pronounced her final vows in 1960, during her third year of Medical studies. She then continued her medical experience in the hospitals. Graduation in 1962 was followed by Internship at St. John Mercy Hospital, and residency at St. Francis Hospital, Roslyn.

Sister Emma was sent in 1965 to the mission of India but because of visa problems, she went to Assunta Hospital in Malaysia for four months. In 1966, she arrived at the Child Jesus Hospital, Tiruchirappalli, to be in charge of the female medical ward, as well as an Anesthetist. Then in 1968, she was sent to Manapad, India, where she was the only doctor for the hospital and the whole district. Her next sending, in 1971, was to St. Joseph’s Hospital, Baramulla, as Medical Superintendent as well as in charge of Pediatrics and Surgery.

After a brief home visit to New York, she worked several months in St. Francis Hospital, Roslyn, N.Y., and then back to Kashmir, India. Sister Emma returned to the USA in 1979, did a medical renewal in Philadelphia for two months, and then medical practice in North Carolina for 15 months. After that, for the next 20 years, she worked in the School Health Service of the Health Department in St Louis. A mandatory retirement compelled her to leave the medical practice. Anxious to remain active, she volunteered to play with the children in the hospital.

She volunteered services in the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary Mission Resource Center in North Providence. An avid reader and a person used to working, it was difficult for Emma to have no specific ministry. She learned the computer and other mental exercises in an effort to “exercise her brain.” As her health deteriorated, she continued to fulfill another aspect of her vows that of prayer and the offering of her life for the Church and the world.

She is survived by her brother, Melchor and his wife Marcy Balaguer in San Francisco; another sister-in-law, Rosemary Balaguer from Denver; a niece, Ellen Balaguer from Denver; nephews, Peter and Jim Balaguer from Maryland; as well as other nieces and nephews.

Visiting hours will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 20 with a Wake Service at 7 p.m. in the Holy Family Chapel, 399 Hill Avenue, North Providence; Mass of Christian Burial at the Holy Family Chapel, Thursday, Nov. 21 at 11 a.m. Funeral arrangements are by Russell J. Boyle and Son Funeral Home.