The daughter of Luis and Maria Ines, Fresia had two brothers, Ricardo and Luis, and a sister, Maria Ines. Badly burned at four years old, Fresia spent many months in the hospital. Her injuries prevented her from attending elementary school. To her great delight, she made her First Communion at the age of 13 with her brother, Ricardo.
Fresia’s life changed in 1986 when she met Sister Louise Dantzig, a Sister of Mercy from Brooklyn ministering in Chile. Louise arranged for Fresia to have plastic surgery in the United States. Although reluctant to leave her family, Fresia accepted the challenge and arrived in Holyoke, Massachusetts, in February 1987. She then went to Brooklyn where she lived with the Sisters of Mercy and underwent further surgeries.
In 1994, Sister Camille D’Arienzo, then-president of the Brooklyn regional community, invited Fresia to enter the Sisters of Mercy. She entered the community in 1996, professed First Vows in May 2000 and Final Vows in May 2006. She celebrated her Silver Jubilee in September 2022.
A woman of courage, intelligence and determination, Fresia continued her education. She obtained a Bachelor of Science Degree in human services from St. John’s University and a Master of Science Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from Hofstra University. This was no small feat for someone whose first language was Spanish!
Fresia ministered as a social services coordinator at Catholic Charities of Brooklyn. She also ministered at Goodwill Industries of Greater New York and Northern New Jersey as a disability determination specialist and then as a community work incentives coordinator. Fresia served as a social worker while living with her novitiate friend Sister Karen Kielb in San Francisco.
After returning to New York, a cancer diagnosis precluded Fresia from continuing in full-time ministry. She took up residence at Sisters of Mercy Convent, Whitestone.
Fresia traveled extensively. Her greatest delight was returning to Chile to visit her family, especially after the birth of her grandniece Renata. Her family made numerous trips to the United States to visit their beloved Fresia.
Fresia’s faith, courage and determination were evident as she confronted so many challenges. Her smile, her forthrightness and goodness endeared her to us. We will greatly miss her.