Sister Rose Louise Schafer
“Who shall find a Providence woman? She is far more precious than jewels.” (Adapted from Proverbs 31:10 by Sister Myra Rodgers, CDP)
“Sister Rose Louise was a woman of nobility, the definition of which is human excellence, that which is illustrious, admirable, lofty and distinguished in values, conduct and bearing. As we saw and experienced Sister Rose Louise’s goodness, the dignity in her resonated with our respect and admiration,” said Sister Nancy Reynolds in her commentary for Sister Rose Louise Schafer, who died Sept. 5.
Agnes Marie Schafer was born June 8, 1917, in Danville, Ill., to Louis and Rosa (Lehnen) Schafer. She was one of 12 children. She attended grade school at St. Joseph, Danville, and St. Lawrence, Lafayette, Ind.
“When Agnes was in eighth grade her teacher, Sister Theresa Marie Cannon (RIP), spoke of St. Mary’s and the Sisters of Providence to her and to two other young girls. All three young girls gathered the necessary documents and wardrobes to enter the Sisters of Providence. The other two girls entered the novitiate, but Agnes was too young at that time. She was only 12 years of age. When it was realized that Agnes was too young to enter the novitiate, the Sisters of Providence were able to do what they had thought about doing for some time and that was to open a Juniorate for high school girls. Four other girls were found who were interested and the Juniorate began on Aug. 21, 1930. Only two of the original five persevered, Agnes and Sister Mary Charles Spalding,” shared Sister Nancy.
Sister Rose Louise entered the Congregation Feb. 2, 1934, and professed first and perpetual vows Aug. 15, 1936, and Jan. 23, 1942, respectively. She earned several bachelor’s degrees from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College in education, social studies and religious education. Sister Rose Louise received a master’s degree in special education from Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C.
Sister Rose Louise started teaching at St. Leo, Chicago, in 1936. She also ministered at St. Athanasius, Evanston, Ill. In Indiana, her classrooms were at Cathedral, Vincennes; St. Catherine, Indianapolis; St. Joseph, Hammond; and Annunciation, Brazil. She spent six years at St. Patrick, Fayetteville, N.C.
“In 1964, Sister Rose Louise was called by the Congregation to be on the first Regional and then Provincial team for the St. Gabriel Province. She served as the first assistant while both the region and then the province were set up and operational,” explained Sister Nancy.
From 1971 to 1975, Sister Rose Louise ministered as a teacher at St. Philip Neri, Indianapolis, as well as director of retirement for the province. She then entered a new ministry as director of religious education (DRE) at St. John Parish, Loogootee, Ind., and later as DRE of St. Anne Parish, New Castle, Ind. She served as the receptionist at Providence Retirement Home, New Albany, Ind., from 1986 to 1990. She returned to the Woods in 1990 and volunteered in a variety of ways.
“Sister Rose Louise was a generous woman. She would bake and bake for the annual SP Bazaar. She was famous for her fudge, divinity and date bars. It was the date bars that took special handling. She was adamant about having fresh dates. She also spent many days and evenings doing beautiful quilting work. All of this was to benefit the Congregation Retirement Fund,” said Sister Nancy.
“Sister Rose Louise was a gentle woman, a woman who did not let negative criticism or complaint cross her lips. She always had a pleasant greeting for everyone she met and when asked how she was, her standard response at all times was ‘I can’t complain.’ It was difficult for Sister Rose Louise to walk, but no one ever heard her complain about pain or her inability to move swiftly. She gave us a great example of a gracious, gentle, loving woman,” continued Sister Nancy.
“Sister Rose Louise, you have attained the eternal reward for which you lived. You are now united with your God, your parents, your siblings and all of those who have gone before you. May you enjoy that eternal home. All those you leave behind will miss you,” concluded Sister Nancy.
The Mass of Christian Burial for Sister Rose Louise was celebrated Sept. 10, with the Rev. Daniel Hopcus presiding. She is survived by four brothers, Louis, Lafayette, Ind.; and Walter, Paul and Thomas, all of West Lafayette, Ind.; and two sisters, Beatrice Steiner of West Lafayette, and Margaret Whiteis of Huddleston, Va.
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