Maria A. Catucci, 54, a retired State Department employee who was long active in religious and cultural affairs here, died of cancer Wednesday at her home in Washington.

Mrs. Catucci worked for the State Department for nearly 30 years.She rose from secretary to staff assistant, and finally to special assistant to the assistant secretary of State for security before she retired in 1970.

She was born in Washington and was a graduate of McKinley High School.

Shortly after World War 11, the Rev. Nocolo DiCarlo, founder of Holy Rosary Catholic Church, asked Mrs,. Catucci to help re-establish the Holy Rosary chapter of the Sodality Union. She later served as prefect of the chapter.

Mrs. Catucci had been prefect of the Archdiocese Sodality of Washington and chairwoman of the Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women.

She had served as a director and executive secretary for the Italian Culture Center of Washington Casa Italiana.

Mrs. Catucci also had been administrative secretary for the Italiana Fall Festival held for the past 18 years at Villa Rosa Rest Home in Mitchellville, Md.

She is survived by her husband, Angelo F., of the home; two sisters, Rosalie Falcone and Concetta Smith, and two brothers, Phillip A. Gentilcore and Daniel A. Gentilcore, all of Hyattsville; another sister, Grace Figliola, of Charleston, S.C., and another brother, Anthony P. Gentilcore, of Wheaton.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy may be in the form of contributions to Casa Italiana, 595 3d Street NW.