A Mass of Remembrance

A Mass of Remembrance was held for Marie Ciliberti on November 7, 2018 in Silver Spring, Maryland at Our Lady Queen of Poland Catholic Church. That day would have been her 82nd birthday. Members of the AFGE Local 1812 Executive Board attended and the Union provided a beautiful flower spray for the service.

Marie was a devout Roman Catholic and the service was traditional with most of it being conducted in Latin. It gave everyone the chance to remember how much she contributed to those around her. She would have been very pleased with the service which stressed what she found important in her life, her religion, her belief in freedom, and her willingness to help those who needed assistance.

We were not surprised that she attended this particular church. She was very proud of her Polish ancestry. AFGE Local 1812 office manager, Bogomila Mireva noticed a remarkable fact- Marie passed away on October 22nd – the feast day of John Paul II, the Polish Pope. As Union member Verla Wiley exclaimed: “Only Marie could have pulled that off!”

Former AFGE Local 1812 Executive Board member Ted Landphair wanted to share his memories of working with Marie.

I am far away, in Arizona and knew Marie professionally rather than in her life away from work, and so I do not know her family or how to reach them. But I would like them to know how special Marie was to many people. If there is a window in her Mass of Remembrance to read my comments about Dear Marie, I would be honored:

Marie was a fierce conservative; I am more liberal every day. We were both longtime broadcasters at the Voice of America but in disparate branches in distant parts of the building. Yet we were fast friends and mutual admirers, owing to our shared devotion to the employee union of which we were Board members.

Marie, and I to a lesser extent because I was constantly traveling on behalf of the agency, made every effort to “speak truth to power” within the Voice of America, confronting management and a punitive “human relations” office that was not always human at all in its treatment of rank-and-file employees. Marie, in particular, put her actions where her sentiments were, speaking forcefully in forums and staff meetings and walking in the vanguard of picketing protests when called for.

She and I had the most genial of spats, especially about politics, slipping each other digs and winks when the fortunes of “our side” seemed on the rise. There were no winners or losers in our disagreements, except, regrettably, on the issue of smoking. I could not talk Marie out of it.

We both despised hypocrisy and condescension. I was the more temperate about it: Marie was mild-mannered until outrage over injustices overwhelmed her, at which time it was woe unto those who would mistreat or malign the “ordinary” (really not ordinary at all) person.

By now her survivors have heard or read many versions of the cliche, “She will be missed” and the one about her “making a difference.” These are not cliches in the case of dear Marie. She changed an entire bureaucratic culture — or at least never stopped trying to — for the better.

God bless her work, her life, and her soul.Marie's Flowers

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