Sister Rosalie Marie Weller
“A great crowd gathered, and they had nothing to eat. So Jesus said to his disciples, ‘I feel sorry for all those people.’ His disciples replied, ‘Where could anyone get bread to feed these people?’ He asked them, ‘How many loaves have you?’ ‘Seven,’ They said. Then, he instructed the crowd to sit down on the ground, and he took the seven loaves and after giving thanks, he broke them and handed them to his disciples to distribute; and they distributed them among the crowd. They had a few small fish as well, and over them he said a blessing and ordered them to be distributed also. They ate as much as they wanted, and they collected seven basketfuls of scraps left over. Now there had been about four thousand people.”
—– A reading from the Gospel of St. Mark
This seemed a good reading to use as we celebrate the life of Sister Rosalie Marie Weller. Sister probably never cooked a meal for four thousand people, but sometimes, it must have seemed like that. And like Jesus, she was often concerned about the well-being of other people, and like Jesus in this story, thanksgiving and prayer were very important to her, said Sister Margaret Quinlan in her commentary for Sister Rosalie Marie Weller, who died on Wednesday, Feb. 4. She was 103 years old and had been a Sister of Providence for 80 years.
Sister Su-Hsin Huang described Sister Rosalie Marie as a woman of faith. The two of them prayed together every day, often several times a day, praying for vocations, for families, for the community, for poor people. She prayed the rosary each day, was always present at liturgy, at the Taizé evening of prayer, at any opportunity to be part of community gatherings for prayer, for activities, for parties.
Sister Rosalie Marie was born on Sept. 7, 1911, in Earl Park, Indiana, to William and Matilda Gick Weller. She was baptized Rose Henrietta. She attended St. Peter Grade School in Fort Wayne, and entered the Sisters of Providence from that parish on July 15, 1934. She was finally professed on Jan. 23, 1942.
She was preceded in death by her parents, by her sisters Kay, Agnes, Clara, Isabel, Bea, Mildred, Leona, Marie and Sister Mary Marcellita, OSF; and by her brothers Albert, Bernard, Daniel and Larry. If you counted them, you noticed that she had 13 siblings!
She is survived by several nieces and nephews.
Rosalie Marie ministered as a cook in various convents for 38 years, then worked in parish ministry in Fort Wayne and Indianapolis from 1975 to 2001, when she returned to the motherhouse, where she was very active until 2011, when she dedicated herself entirely to prayer.
I lived with Rosalie for six years at Guerin Convent in River Grove. There, she cooked every day for 40 sisters in the convent. Most of us ate in the school cafeteria for lunch, but still, that was a lot of cooking every day. Still, she found time to visit people in the neighborhood who were sick or lonely.
But even before that, when I was really a young sister, I summered at Providence High School in Chicago, working with the neighborhood summer program there, and Rosalie Marie was there, too. One day, for a feast day, probably for Assumption, she made cream puffs. With some of the cream puff dough, she made S-shaped forms, which she attached to the cream puffs to create swans. Then, she served them in the middle of the table on a mirror! Talk about creative! Talk about beautiful! For me, that was the epitome of creativity that Rosalie Marie shared with so many.
During a community meeting a few years ago, Rosalie Marie, Sisters Catherine Alberta, Michael Ellen and Mary Eymard, were recognized for their service to the community as cooks and housekeepers. As we blessed them, we all said, “We recognize and honor our sisters who served our Congregation and our ministries in domestic service … We cherish their gifts and dedication.” There were few dry eyes that day in the church.
In 1975, Rosalie Marie began her work in parish ministry at St. John the Baptist in Fort Wayne, and beginning in 1983, at St. Lawrence in Indianapolis. At St. Lawrence, she was part of the Caregivers Program, as she put it, “serving Christ by serving others.” She kept the files for the families, trying to make sure people’s needs were covered.
She wrote, “I just try to help people.” Another time, she described her ministry, “I take Communion to the sick, visit the lonely. I help in any way I can.”
In 1992, Rosalie submitted a recipe for date pudding to an Indianapolis paper, and won first prize. That prize involved five days of deluxe hotel accommodations, two plane tickets, and the use of a rental car. She used her prize to travel to Seattle, and drove the car to visit Vancouver, Canada.
In 2001, Rosalie Marie returned to the motherhouse, where she served the community in many ways and enjoyed many activities. Judy Meyer, one of our Associates, always enjoyed visiting her, being with her. Judy said she loved her from the start. Rosalie Marie told her about Mother Theodore, took her to the Shell Chapel, went with her to play bingo at Maryvale, played cards, etc.
But most of all, Judy loved to take her to the Blessed Sacrament Chapel. Judy found that awesome. She understood that was Rosalie Marie’s love. That was what kept her going.
In 2011, Rosalie Marie committed herself totally to the ministry of prayer. After she had suffered a stroke, at age 99, she lost the use of her right hand. She tried to learn to do art with her left hand, to make cards and quilt, but it was very difficult. She was no longer able to be independent, but she told Sister Su-Hsin that she offered everything to God. Su-Hsin said she shed tears, but had no complaints. Faith was the center of her life.
Last week, at age 103, Sister Rosalie Marie left us. Rosalie Marie, we will miss you. But we thank God for your good, generous, creative, prayerful life.
Funeral services for Sister Rosalie Marie took place in the Church of the Immaculate Conception on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 13-14.
A wake took place from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m., on Friday, Feb. 13, with Vespers at 4:30 p.m.
Mass of Christian Burial was at 11 a.m., on Saturday, Feb. 14.
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