Sister Theresa Rose Butts
“Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day, praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.” (I Corinthians 13:8-10)
“Sister Theresa Rose was a gentle, soft spoken, delightful friend — trustworthy, a heart-keeper of confidence,” said Sister Ruth Johnson in her commentary for Sister Theresa Rose Butts, who died Dec. 15.
Rosemary Butts entered this world April 7, 1915, in Galesburg, Ill., to Daniel and Anna (Coomes) Butts. She was one of seven siblings. Rosemary attended St. Joseph Academy grade school and high school in Galesburg. She entered the Congregation July 15, 1934, and professed first and perpetual vows Jan. 23, 1937, and Aug. 15, 1942, respectively. Sister Theresa Rose earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College and a master’s degree in English from Xavier University.
Sister Theresa Rose began teaching grade school in 1937 at Marywood, Evanston, Ill. In Illinois, she also ministered at grade schools and high schools at Our Lady of Sorrows, Chicago; Costa High School, Galesburg; and Mother Theodore Guerin High School, River Grove. At Guerin High School, she also ministered as a librarian from 1988 to 1996. Sister Theresa Rose spent several years on the East Coast at Immaculata Seminary and Dunblane, Washington, D.C., and Ascension, Halethorpe, Md. Her Indiana classrooms included St. Patrick and St. Benedict, Terre Haute, and St. Jude, Fort Wayne. After more than five decades of teaching, Sister Theresa Rose returned to the Woods and volunteered in Residential Services.
“Sister Theresa Rose was extremely intelligent. Sister Ann Marita Wynne, who was a classmate, says that she won many honors. Her Scrabble™ partners, Sister Marie Esther Sivertsen and Sister Mary Joanita Walsh (RIP) could attest to that fact. Accomplished daily without neglect was reading the daily newspaper. Her interest in people and world events was evident in this accomplishment,” shared Sister Ruth.
“Sister Ann Sullivan, who lived with her at Costa High School, shares the fact that at Costa Sister Theresa Rose kept a wonderful garden, always including Bells of Ireland, and that she baked the best chocolate chip cookies, made with both butter and margarine,” continued Sister Ruth.
“Her love of the earth responds to the words of Black Elk, which somehow mirrors Sister Theresa Rose’s persona: Her voice was not loud, but it went all over the universe and filled it. There was nothing that did not hear, and it was more beautiful than anything could be. It was so beautiful that nothing anywhere could keep from dancing. The Virgins danced, and all the circled horses. The leaves on the trees, the grasses on the hills and in the valleys, the water in the creeks and in the rivers, and the lakes, the four-legged and the two-legged and the wings of the wind — all danced together to the music of the Resurrection song.
“I would like to think that the universe responds to our passing from this life to the next, that our close connection to Earth is comparable to the wave motion, moving over all things, claiming it totally to our destiny,” concluded Sister Ruth.
The Mass of Christian Burial for Sister Theresa Rose was celebrated Dec. 20, with the Rev. Daniel Hopcus presiding. She is survived by one brother, Cyril, of Galesburg.
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