Thankful for the friendship of Sister Rosalie Marie Weller
I first met Sister Rosalie Marie Weller six years ago. This was the first time I would travel to the Woods, so I was a bit nervous about getting lost in Terre Haute. I was to rendezvous with three other women from Saint Malachy in Brownsburg, my soon to be home parish. The others were my mother Lucy and her two friends, Maggie and Donna. Donna is Sister Rosalie’s niece, so she gave her an invite and told her to bring along friends.
My mother had told me a lot about Sister Rosalie. She had met her through Donna, and they had recently celebrated her 95th birthday that September. Mom showed me lots of photos of Sister Rosalie saying, “You are not going to believe she is 95! She surely does not look 95. She looks to be about 70! Isn’t she beautiful?” From those photos, she did look too young to be a woman smack-dab in her 90s. Today, at 102, she doesn’t look a day older than when I met her.
We first went to Room 301 in Lourdes Hall, where Sister Rosalie gave me a decade rosary made with beads that had been used to make up the chaplets the sisters wore with the old black habit. From that moment on we were fast friends. I love her.
Fast forward to a year ago or so. I was volunteering for the retired sisters and Sister Rosalie shared with me one of her prayers. We were waiting for one of the two slow elevators in Lourdes. “I always pray while I’m waiting for the elevators,” she said. “All I say is ‘Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.’” She has such a love for the Lord, and anytime we get a chance, we go to the Blessed Sacrament Chapel to spend time in adoration.
I believe that it was on that same elevator ride that she told me I must become a Providence Associate (PA). I didn’t really know much about the program, so she told me with whom I needed to speak and where I would find Sister Mary Alice Zander (RIP). I had an appointment before I left that day.
Sister Rosalie loved to paint. She took art classes in the old third floor art studio in Providence Hall. That was such a cozy place for art classes or to play a few rounds of cards if no one else was there. Her art was frequently displayed on the wall next to the main kitchen in Providence. She even painted an icon of Saint Mother Theodore. She would tell me all the steps one must make to create an icon. I always had to dig in a closet to find a frame that would fit a recent piece of her art or a nice piece from a calendar. Once a piece was framed, I got to take it home with me.
Sister Rosalie is a cook. From what I learned from other sisters and from sampling some of her baked goods, she is an excellent cook. Once, she decided I should learn how to make her famous pie crusts. From the ingredient list, I understood that I would be set up with a year’s worth of crusts in my freezer!
One of my most poignant memories with Sister Rosalie happened recently, when we got together for a morning of pie baking. You see, before Providence Hall was renovated, she shared a wonderful kitchen space with some of the other sister. Sister Rosalie kept saying that if nothing else, her one goal after the renovation was to bake one more pie or a batch of cookies or a loaf of bread. I decided we would make it happen.
Sadly, Sister Rosalie suffered a stroke during the renovation, and once the hall was reopened, she would not be able to meet her goal without help. So one day, with the help of Sister Becky Keller, the volunteer coordinator, I gathered some ingredients together (minus a recipe) and we wheeled over to the Express Hall activity room kitchen where we baked a pie. Sister Rosalie worried that the ratio of crust ingredients was wrong (which I think it was) and the only pie pan we could find in the house had holes in the bottom of it. Sister Rosalie was quite doubtful that the pie would be edible, but it was! It wasn’t quite up to her former standards, but it was tasty, and she shared it with some of the other sisters in Mother Theodore Hall.
I hope you enjoyed some of my treasured memories with Sister Rosalie.