Phyllis Veronica Millacci was born on August 8, 1917 in Lebanon, Pennsylvania. She was the fifth of nine children born to Italian immigrant parents, Anthony and Josephine Millacci. Phyllis had three brothers: John, Thomas and Edward. She also had five sisters: Rose, Carmelina, Helen, Ann and Margaret. Phyllis' early years were spent in Pennsylvania. When she was 12 years old, the family moved to Flushing, Long Island in New York. Her education continued in the New York City elementary and secondary schools system. Phyllis was employed briefly as a sales girl. She then applied for a position taking care of pre-mature infants at the Flushing Hospital. Phyllis worked there for two and a half years. During these years, she was considering a call to religious life. After reading the vocation issue of the Orphans' Messenger and Advocate of the Blind, Phyllis applied to become a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Newark. She was accepted and started the postulant training program on July 31, 1945. Six months later, Phyllis received the religious habit and was given the name Sister Marie Paula. Her novitiate program continued for two years at St. Michael Novitiate in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. On February 2, 1948, Sister Marie Paula pronounced her First Vows.
After First Profession, Sister Marie Paula was assigned to serve in the dining areas at Holy Name Hospital in Teaneck, NJ. The following two years, she was assigned to teach pre-kindergarten classed at Barbara Givernaud Orphanage in North Bergen, NJ and Corpus Christi School in South River, NJ. In 1951, Sister Marie Paula was asked to teach blind children at St. Mary Institute in Lansdale, PA. She successfully acquired and adapted her teaching methods to serve the children at St. Mary's until the school was closed in 1955. Sr. Marie Paula continued to educated handicapped children at St. Joseph School for the Blind in Jersey City, NJ. She was also taught blind students in other schools as an itinerant teacher. In 1977, Sister Marie Paula started to minister at St. James Hospital in Newark, NJ. She worked as ward clerk and pastoral care person for the next six years. When the responsibilities became more physically stressful, Sister Marie Paula moved to the Villa Marie Claire, where she took care of the dining area for the elderly guests. In 2007, at age 90 she moved to St. Michael's Villa.
Sister Marie Paula brought dedication and commitment to each mission she was asked to accept. She received a BA in Education and an MA in Special Education. She attended conferences and workshops relating to her ministry. She read about aging and listened to speakers who advised the elderly to make aging enjoyable. Sister Marie Paula deeply loved the CSJP Community and always responded when her opinion was requested. She was loved by a close knit family. Shortly, before she died, her health began to fail and she was moved to the infirmary. She died on June 29, 2015. Her funeral Mass was offered by Father James McDonald in the St. Michael Villa chapel. Sr. Marie Paula was buried in Holy Cross Cemetery in North Arlington, NJ. She was pre-deceased by her eight brothers and sisters.
"So Christ is our model and in order to imitate Him we have to do strange things – things that seem almost inexplicable, but at the last days, when our work is taken off the loom of life, we shall see the beauty that comes into our soul by this work."
Mother Evangelista (Honoria Gaffney)