Sr. Virginia Falk, fmm
Born an identical twin in Monroe, LA, Virginia lost both parents before the age of ten. She and her twin were raised by grandparents in New Orleans. At an early age she felt a strong attraction to St. Francis, to Africa and to the missionary life. She discovered the FMM's at the age of twelve and began a five year correspondence after which she entered the Fruit Hill Novitiate in 1951.
After first profession, Virginia was sent to study at Emmanuel College in Boston, earning a BA in English. She was assigned to Fall River, and at Espirito Santo School began a teaching ministry, which lasted thirty years. Although her dream of Africa was stronger than ever, she was another six years in America-in Massachusetts, Cincinnati, and St. Louis, including graduate studies at Boston College in English.
In 1964 Virginia sailed at last to the foreign missions via Rome. She was missioned not to Africa, the land of her dreams, but to India where she spent seven and a half years teaching all levels in the schools and College, until ill health forced her to return to the USA. After a year of recuperation, she was assigned to the province of Ghana/Liberia, where she spent the next decade, teaching and setting up a seminary library. During those years, Virginia had the opportunity to do a ten-month renewal course AMECEA Pastoral Institute in Kenya.
Virginia was missioned to the USA in 1983 and was assigned to the Navajo Reservation for the next five years teaching in a public high school and coordinating music in the parish. In 1988, at the onset of burnout, she knew she had to leave the teaching ministry, which she had loved. This was a great turning point. It was time now to realize a double-faceted dream that had been born in early childhood years; to work with the sick and the dying and to serve through the use of music. Virginia became certified as a chaplain and worked in AIDS ministry until she began studies at Santa Clara University for a MA in Liturgical Music. In 1996 she was assigned to Florida.
Virginia became a hospital chaplain and through the hospital's financial support, was able to fulfill requirements for a certification as music practitioner from the Music for Healing and Transition Program. She started a Southeastern area for the program and served as area coordinator for two years, facilitating the training and certifying music practitioners from Florida. Virginia later started a guild for music practitioners and others working with music or sound for healing. The training program and the guild continue to expand and fulfill a genuine need in Florida.
Virginia served at Maria Manor, a long-term care facility, as chaplain and music practitioner. To their Care of the Dying Program she has added the dimension of healing music at the bedside, singing chants and playing soft free rhythm music to aid those at the final days or hours of their lives in the task of unbinding with all they have loved and letting go of earthly life. Virginia believes that this is the work for which she was created, and that all the studies and experiences of the last 60 years as an FMM have been stepping-stones to this ministry. Virginia continues her music ministry in GA. She serves as liturgical musician for a small mission church in Warm Springs, where she selects the hymns for Sunday Mass and trains cantors. In LaGrange, she works with West Georgia Hospice, using voice and harp to bring therapeutic music to the patients there.