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Constance Giampolo

IMG_4699God certainly made something beautiful in Connie Giampaolo.

The longtime chaplain and spiritual care director at Lourdes Medical Center of Burlington County and a breast cancer survivor, Giampaolo passed away on Sunday, March 5. She was 61.

Kind and empathetic, funny and good-spirited, Giampaolo touched the lives of everyone she encountered–from a colleague who needed a pick-me-up during a difficult shift to a dying patient grateful to receive a last communion.

“You never know what a little thing will do,” said Giampaolo at the 2015 American Cancer Society Relay for Life in Delran. “Never doubt the act of kindness that you give. It will make a world of difference not only in the person you are giving it to, but there is a whole ripple effect.”

Giampaolo credited her Catholic education at Little Flower Catholic High School for Girls in Philadelphia for instilling within her the passion to care for others. She earned her undergraduate degree in psychology from Neumann University and later a master’s degree in theology and pastoral ministry from LaSalle University.

A resident of Palmyra, Giampaolo joined Lourdes Medical Center of Burlington County, a community hospital in Willingboro, in July 1990.

Her work in pastoral care hit unfortunately close to home when her husband, Joseph, died of cancer in 2000, leaving her a widow with three young sons.

“I was broken, it broke me,” she told the Trenton Monitor in a 2012 article. “But out of that brokenness, God showed me that if I was willing, He would let me be a clay pot for him. He is the potter and smashes that clay on the wheel and then makes it into something beautiful.”

As part of her duties as chaplain, Giampaolo led a morning prayer broadcast over the hospital’s intercom. Work and conversation would pause as staff, patients and visitors listened to her uplifting words. In 2012, Giampaolo earned certification by the National Association of Catholic Chaplains, an accomplishment for which she took great pride.

“The Holy Spirit gave me the gifts of strength and courage,” she said.

Giampaolo also directed the hospital’s mission activities, helping to lead a parish nursing program and working closely with area churches and organizations such as Catholic Charities.

“Connie was an active and vocal supporter of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Trenton. From supporting advocacy efforts to coordinating collections of donations that went directly to program recipients her spirited energy was a blessing,” said Marlene Lao-Collins, Executive Director of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Trenton.

One of Giampaolo’s final activities was organizing the hospital’s annual Black History Month events, which featured the Guiding Lights gospel quartet. “She was an awesome person, inside and out,” the group wrote on Facebook.

“Lourdes and the South Jersey community were made a better place by Connie’s presence, dedication, commitment, perseverance and energy,” Scott Share, former Lourdes Health System vice president of marketing, wrote on Facebook. “She really made a difference with patients and colleagues. She will be sorely missed.”

Giampaolo said she “made a decision a long time ago that I wanted my life to count for Him. I can only hope that I can please God with my life.”

You definitely did, Connie.

In addition to her late husband, Joseph, Constance Mary (Lare) Giampaolo is survived by her three sons, Joseph Matthew, Michael and Mark, as well as brother James Lare.

A viewing will be held on Saturday, March 11, from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at Church of the Sacred Heart, 103 Fourth Street, Riverton, New Jersey. Mass will follow at 10:30 a.m.

Internment will be at Lakeview Memorial Park, Route 130 North, Cinnaminson, New Jersey.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to:

Behavioral Health Fund

Lourdes Health Foundation

1600 Haddon Avenue

Camden, NJ 08103

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