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Mary Dalene Crowder-Leaver, age 71 of Gloucester City

Sr. Maristella Lastra, Franciscan Missionary Sister of the Infant Jesus

Sr. Maristella Lastra, Franciscan Missionary Sister of the Infant Jesus died suddenly on May 21, 2022 in the Delegation Convent in Cherry Hill, NJ. just shy of her 85th Screen Shot 2022-05-29 at 13.58.56 birthday.


Sister was born on June 6th, 1937 in Peru’ and entered religious life in 1957. She professed her vows on March 19th, 1960. Following obedience and her love and desire of being a missionary, Sr. Maristella left her native country of Peru’ and landed on the shores of America in 1962. Here she joined the first three sisters who had already come to Minitola, NJ the previous year.

Sister Maristella had the gift of being witty, serious, simple and profound, all according to the circumstances that she encountered at a given time. She loved Peru’, she loved America. She loved politics that she followed with diligence and pride. One of her many accomplishments was becoming an American citizen.

A true testimony to Franciscan Joy, Sr. Maristella shared her love for Jesus in all of her missions where she was assigned. Whether it was cooking, baking, teaching or spending time with the community, she did everything with her whole heart and soul. Working with the children in Nursery school and PreKindergarten in both St. Joseph Pro-Cathedral and Guardian Angels Regional School were the years that she delighted in most. She is fondly remembered by her former students, many of whom have families of their own now. She is remembered by her many family, school, and parish contacts.

In her later years, Sr. Maristella continued her apostolate at our Delegation house in Cherry Hill where she spent her time in prayer, helping the sisters, cooking, baking and in hospitality. She was a welcoming smile and serene voice to everyone. Letter writing and telephone calls were her ways of keeping in touch with her friends and family.


Sr. Maristella was predeceased by her father Melquiades Lastra, her mamma Dictalina Olortiga, her Mamita Maria Lastra and her brother Melchor. She is survived by her sisters Eugenia and Francisca and her brothers Timoteo, Santiago and Santos, her many beloved nieces and nephews a well as her Franciscan Missionary Sisters of the Infant Jesus.

Sr. Maristella will be remembered by all as a person totally dedicated to Jesus Christ, and committed to the people whom she served. Sister will be missed by all of us who loved her, but her presence will continue as we allow her goodness to live through each of us.


Services were under the direction of the McGuinness Funeral Home, Woodbury, NJ Interment will be private. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to: Franciscan Missionary Sisters of the Infant Jesus, 1215 Kresson Rd., Cherry Hill, NJ 08003.