Sister Rosalie Cullen, formerly Sister James Clare
The prophet Isaiah proclaims:
“Have you not known? Have you not heard? I am the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. I do not grow tired or weary; my understanding is unsearchable. I give power to the weak, and to those who have no might, I increase strength. The young may grow tired and weary and others may stumble and fall, but those who hope in Yahweh will have their strength renewed. They will soar as with eagles’ wings. They shall run and not grow weary; they shall walk and not grow faint.”
Isaiah 40: 28-31
“Do not be afraid, for I have redeemed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. You are precious in my eyes and honored. Because I love you, I give you life.”
Sister Rosalie Cullen was indeed a woman of hope and strength, a Providence woman, whose passionate caring touched hundreds of people’s lives, said Sisters Jane Marie Osterholt and Irma Meuse in their commentary for Sister Rosalie Cullen, who died on Thursday, August 7, 2003, at St. Francis Hospital in Beech Grove, Indiana. She was 65 and had been a Sister of Providence for 47 years.
Sister Irma continued: She was born on April 17, 1938, in Terre Haute, Indiana, and was given the name of Clara Rosalie. She was the youngest child of Aline Clare and James Paul Cullen Jr. Rosalie was baptized at St. Patrick’s Church in Terre Haute. She attended grade school at St. Patrick Elementary and graduated from Schulte High School in 1956.
On July 22, 1956, Rosalie entered the Congregation of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, professing first vows on Jan. 23, 1959, and final vows on Aug. 15, 1964.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College and a master’s degree in education from Indiana State University.
Known as Sister James Clare, Rosalie taught second grade at St. Anthony in Gardena, California, and then first and second grades at St. Sylvester in Chicago and Annunciation in Brazil, Indiana, before returning to Saint Mary-of-the-Woods to minister as a member of the Infirmary Staff.
She later taught in Indiana at St. Susanna in Plainfield and St. Patrick and St. Margaret Mary in Terre Haute. In 1977, Sister Rosalie again returned as an aide in the Infirmary. Pastoral Care then became her last ministry, serving for 18 years as a Chaplain in the Pastoral Care Department at St. Francis Hospital in Beech Grove.
When, because of her illness, Rosalie was unable to continue working in an official capacity as a chaplain, she continued to minister to others in a variety of ways at the Motherhouse. She took time to visit the sick in the Health Care Center and she volunteered in the Office of Congregational Advancement.
Rosalie brought joy and laughter to all those with whom she came in contact – whether it was in doctor’s offices, in the dining room where she was said to hold court even after the meals were over, or visiting with those who stopped by to visit with her in the gazebo between Karcher and Owens Halls.
Until her life on earth ended on August 7, 2003, she kept her focus on living. A sister, Elvera Yontz, and a sister-in-law, June Cullen, as well as many nieces, nephews, grand nieces and nephews and cousins survive her. Her parents and two brothers, Joseph and James Paul Jr., preceded her in death.
The facts of Rosalie’s life are clear and easy to recall. However, they can not capture the personality or spirit of a woman known by so many different names. Her dad in particular, called her “Poochie Babe,” which was a most endearing name for his youngest daughter. She was called sister, aunt, great aunt, cousins, friend, teacher and confidante. To her many nieces and nephews, grand nieces and nephews, she is known as Aunt Rosalie or Aunt “Osie.” To her cousins, she has been named Rosie or Rosalie. Friends have called her RoseAlley, little Rosie, blue eyes, rosary, Rosalee, little big mistake, princess, CREC (Clara Rosalie Elizabeth Cullen), sunshine and, at times, it was said as Rosalie approached a group: “Here comes trouble!”
During the summers when many sisters were staying at the Signature Inn in Terre Haute, Rosalie was the presider at the breakfast groups. Many years ago when Rosalie visited my parents, my mother gave her the title of angel in a gray suit. To the women of St. Jude Parish, where she worshipped and participated in the Christ Renews His Parish group, she was known as the rowdiest of the rowdy angels. To special friends, she was known as “Wosie,” and to others with whom Rosalie ministered as Chaplain, she was known as compassionate friend, listener, counselor, and as the woman who stood with so many as they journeyed to God.
She always had time to stop to listen to others and to share her thoughts with them and to pray with them. She knew by name so many of the hospital staff, their families and their children. At times, she would continue to visit with patients and their families after the person was discharged home or in some cases, after the death of the patient. A gifted presence was the name given to Rosalie by those who were with her at those moments in time.
As Rosalie was dying, a friend of hers remarked that a possible reason why her journey towards the light was taking so long, was that she was taking time to stop to greet all the people along the way. It is known that Rosalie never met a stranger. Even as a child, she would sit on her porch steps, wave and call out to whomever was walking past. It was mentioned that if Rosalie was meeting any children on her journey toward the light, she was definitely stopping in order to talk and play with them; singing them nursery rhymes or making faces to get them to laugh. Rosalie had a great love for children and had wanted to spend her retirement years at Woods Day Care just rocking the babies.
Rosalie was an amazing gifted, courageous, fun-loving, generous, faith-filled woman. She was a people person to the nth degree. She was out-going, yet, in many ways, a very private person. She lived with a song in her heart; a smile and dimples on her face, and a positive attitude and love as her way of life. She has taught us all what it means to be present to each other, for she was always present to us.
Rosalie’s final moments on earth came on Thursday, August 7, shortly before 6 a.m. She, very quietly, simply stopped breathing and was gently embraced by the God of her desires and longing. She put herself gently into the hands of Providence.
We remember Rosalie as a Providence Woman filled with strength, grace and beauty. She never complained about her illness or how she was feeling. Rosalie was always there for others. May her wonderful spirit always remain with us!
Rosalie, may the God who called you by name, give you a reward of your labors and be our support, as we grieve the loss of your presence in our lives.
We love you, Rosalie.
Sister Rosalie Cullen, also known as Sister James Clare, 65, of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, died on Thursday, August 7, 2003, at St. Francis Hospital in Beech Grove, Indiana.
She was a teacher.
She taught in schools staffed by the Congregation in California, Illinois and Indiana. For close to 18 years, she ministered at St. Francis Hospital in Beech Grove as chaplain and spiritual care services.
Mass of Christian Burial took place at the Church of the Immaculate Conception. Burial is in the Cemetery of the Sisters of Providence.
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