Sister Mary Rosita Thewes
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3)
“In searching the Scriptures for this occasion, I found the words of Saint Paul to the Philippians a mirror reflection of Sister Mary Rosita’s life. If she could speak to us this morning, she probably would not use these words. But Scripture, like poetry, is given us so that we can have words for what we know within but cannot otherwise express,” said Sister Mary Roger Madden in her commentary for Sister Mary Rosita Thewes, who died Feb. 25.
The daughter of John and Mary (Heichelbech) Thewes, Marie Anna (baptismal name Mary Anne) was born May 5, 1922, in Celestine, Ind. She was one of eight children. Marie Anna attended St. Celestine Grade School in Celestine. She entered the Congregation Feb. 1, 1943, and professed first and perpetual vows Aug. 15, 1945, and 1950, respectively.
Sister Mary Rosita served convents at Our Lady of Sorrows, Chicago; Marywood, Anaheim, Calif.; and Marywood, Evanston, Ill., from 1945 to 1949. “She fed, besides the sisters, numerous hungry young girls [at the boarding schools],” shared Sister Mary Roger.
“In 1949, obedience returned her to the Woods where for the next 19 years she worked beside Sister Zita Kidwell (RIP) in Providence kitchen as well as in Lourdes Infirmary kitchen. In Lourdes, Sister Mary Rosita not only prepared and cooked the food, but she fixed with infinite patience the individual trays for each of the sister-patients confined to the Infirmary,” continued Sister Mary Roger.
“All her religious life, Sister Mary Rosita served in a supportive role for those who were involved in the external ministries of the Church. Far from feeling herself slighted by this fact, she was obviously happy in all that she did for others. She described herself as ‘a happy person.’ As she grew in her calling, she developed a reputation for gracious hospitality. Always quiet and reserved, she gained confidence in her ability to serve others with her own special gifts.
“A major change in Sister Mary Rosita’s life took place in 1968 when the auxiliary bishop of Indianapolis, Bishop George J. Biskup, came to the Woods searching for assistance in maintaining his residence, at that time in Holy Cross Parish. Sister Mary Rosita and her friend, Sister Mary Kevin Harte (RIP), were sent to Indianapolis to assist the bishop in his need. When in time the bishop succeeded to the office of Bishop of Indianapolis, he asked the sisters to go with him to the bishop’s residence,” said Sister Mary Roger.
“Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara, who succeeded Biskup, asked the sisters to stay and assist him as they had his predecessor. They remained throughout his term of office. By 1978 the two sisters had completed 24 years of hidden service to the clergy and the hierarchy and indirectly to the people of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis,” continued Sister Mary Roger.
“Upon the death of Archbishop O’Meara, Sister Mary Rosita was moved to a much less pressurized environment at St. Simon Convent, Indianapolis, where she reveled in the opportunity to live community life daily. Always a community woman, Sister Mary Rosita’s ministry as servant of the servants of God had often kept her more isolated than she would have preferred,” said Sister Mary Roger.
Sister Mary Rosita returned to the Woods in 1997 and volunteered in the Woods Co-op, a used clothing ministry.
“Gradually her failing health made it necessary for her to actually retire from active ministry. Those who walked with her those days saw what a suffering it was for her not to be able to work. She had spent herself in service to others for almost 60 years and now she hardly knew how to live for herself. She became, in fact, what Jesus was — God’s suffering servant,” continued Sister Mary Roger.
The Mass of Christian Burial for Sister Mary Rosita was celebrated Feb. 28, with the Rev. Daniel Hopcus presiding. She is survived by one brother, Alois, of Celestine, Ind., and one sister, Frances Jochum of Jasper, Ind.
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