Age 79, of St. Paul, Minnesota passed away on June 26, 2020. Preceded in death by her beloved husband, Reynaldo, Sr. Survived by daughters Rosalyn and Carolyn; sons Arthur, Reynaldo, Jr. “Reggie” (Kirsten), and Jonathan (Katie); and four grandchildren.
Connie was raised in Detroit, Michigan with her twin sister Collette, and older siblings Mary and Frank. She graduated from Marygrove College in Detroit, with a degree in Music. She taught elementary school music in Detroit before entering religious life as a novitiate at a Maryknoll convent in Ossining, NY. She left the convent just prior to professing final vows to pursue a career in social work.
After earning a Masters of Social Work from Wayne State University in Detroit, she began a career as a clinical social worker. While working in Ionia, Michigan, she met her future husband, Reynaldo, Sr., who was a psychiatrist working on the same mental health team. They married in 1973, and settled in Jamestown, North Dakota where they both worked at the North Dakota State Hospital and an outpatient mental health clinic.
They raised Jonathan and Reggie in Jamestown prior to Rey’s death in 1998. Connie then retired, and began a new chapter of her life, committed to education, activism and volunteer work. She moved to Minnesota in 2000 to pursue a Masters of Theology at St. John’s University in Collegeville. She received her diploma in May of 2002 in the same graduation ceremony as Jonathan, who received his undergraduate degree on the same day.
Connie and Jon then joined Reggie in St. Paul, where Connie devoted her time and energy to social justice causes. Her primary focus was Catholic church reform. She advocated for a greater role for women in the church. She was proud to have twice attended a conference hosted by the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.
Even in retirement, her commitment to serving people facing mental health crises was tireless; she made it her mission to take on other people’s pain. She served as a mental health volunteer for the American Red Cross during various national and local disasters, including Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the 2005 shooting at Red Lake High School, and several house fires in the Twin Cities. In 2006, the Pioneer Press ran an article about the Red Cross’s efforts to help a family following a fatal apartment fire. A woman who lost her husband in the fire said the following about Connie’s efforts to help her: “She was like an angel who came out of nowhere. She gave me such a sense of calmness.” She also led the Red Cross’s mental health response team following the collapse of the 35W bridge in Minneapolis in 2007. She even met the president when he visited Minneapolis. In addition to this work, she was committed to providing services to homeless immigrant families.
Connie’s family would like to recognize the staff at the Pillars of Highland Park and Fairview Hospice for their compassionate care. A family service will be held, as well as a burial at Resurrection Cemetery in Mendota Heights. In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to the American Red Cross or Call to Action. Links found below.
American Red Cross - Minnesota & Dakotas
Call to Action