Sister Madeline Welch, the former provincial of the Roman Union Ursulines of the Eastern Province USA and a civil and canon lawyer who worked tirelessly for immigrants in Delaware, died Jan. 8 at Calvary Hospital in the Bronx, N.Y., after a battle with cancer. She was 71.
Sister Madeline came to Wilmington in 1998 at the invitation of Brother Ronald Giannone, the Capuchin Franciscan priest, to establish an immigration law office at the Ministry of Caring. He got to know her through her annual visits as provincial to the Ursuline Sisters in Wilmington.
“I would say to her, ‘Madeline, once you’re finished as provincial, come and work for me,’” and she did, Brother Ronald recalled this week.
While Sister Madeline was working for the ministry, the Community Legal Aid Society Inc. approached Brother Ronald and said that kind of legal advocacy for immigrants was needed statewide and asked if it could assume and the Ministry of Caring’s work. Thus, Sister Madeline continued her practice with CLASI until 2007.
“She was just dynamic with the Hispanic community and the eastern Europeans. She helped so many people,” Brother Ronald said.
In 2007, she was transferred to Rome, where she served as prioress at the Ursuline Generalate. After moving back to the United States because of her illness, she kept involved with projects related to the history of the order and the Welch family genealogy.
During her career, she also served as director of legal services for the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and the National Association of Treasurers of Religious Institutes.
Brother Ronald visited with her during her illness and presided at her funeral Mass, which was Jan. 11 in New Rochelle, N.Y. “She was a great woman and it was hard to say goodbye. It was an honor to pay farewell to her,” he said.
Burial was at Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Valhalia, N.Y. Donations in Sister Madeline’s name may be made to the Ursuline Retirement Fund, in care of the Ursuline Provincialate, 1338 North Ave., New Rochelle, NY 10804.