Sister Paulina Villa died peacefully on January 14, 2024, at the age of 90. She was born in Santa Margarita, California, on June 30, 1933, to Amelia Garcia and Lazaro Villa. She had seven brothers and sisters. Claudine Rosa, Rita East, Lupe, Lazaro (Leslie), Toby, and Louie Villa, who have preceded her in death. Christine Evans remains her only living sister.
She entered the Sisters of the Holy Family from Holy Angels Parish on July 2, 1952, at the age of 19. She had had no previous contact with the Sisters of the Holy Family; she said, “I just filled out the paperwork and had my family drive me to the convent so I could enter. I walked up the steps of Hayes and Fillmore and never left.”
Sister Paulina’s early years among the sisters were spent in the field of religious education in the Bay Area, Monterey County, Mount Shasta, Reno, and Pleasant Hill. She then moved on to working in parishes with the divorced and separated, hospice and grief groups, and retreat ministry. In 1990, she began work with Seton Medical Center’s West Bay Home Health Services, where she pioneered the role of home health care chaplain, often visiting with people she had first met during a hospital visit. She was known for her gentle ways with people and for listening and responding to needs. She retired from compensated ministry in 2008 and continued in volunteer chaplaincy until she suffered a serious stroke in early 2009. Following the stroke, she moved to the Motherhouse in Fremont, where she remained until her death.
Sister Paulina’s focus of work was with adults, and she loved her interactions with them. She also loved the SF Giants baseball, SF 49ers football, and camping. She spent many vacations in tents and hiking in the forests of California. She remained close to her sister Christine, brother-in-law Doyle, and extended family; she enjoyed spending time with them in rural California when she was still able to travel. When she could no longer travel, she enjoyed their visits, playing games of Farkle and eating home-cooked enchiladas and tamales.
Sister Paulina’s funeral Mass will be celebrated on Friday, January 26, at 2:00 pm in the Sisters’ Oratory in Fremont. Graveside services will take place on Saturday, February 3, at 11:30, in Santa Margarita Cemetery.