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The wonder of baking

Sister Rose Marita takes loaves of bread out of the oven.

In October 2016, Sister Rose Marita Riordan received the tragic news that she had been diagnosed with a return of colon cancer. She had battled the deadly disease only a handful of years before.

After receiving the news, Sister Rose Marita chose not to undergo treatment.

In November of the same year, Sister Rose Marita received the Sacrament of the Sick. In the Catholic Church, the Sacrament of the Sick is given by a priest and the gathered community to strengthen a person who is sick or about to have surgery.

“It’s a prayerful occasion,” Sister Rose Marita said. “It’s an anointing for the preparation of death. It allows a person to spring back and gives them the strength to go on for a while longer, to enjoy life. Evidently, that has worked for me.”

The sacrament breathed fresh air into Sister Rose Marita’s lungs and since that November day, she has made it her mission to take time out of the week for one of her passions.

She loves to bake.

Here are some of the breads she has been making.

Currently, Sister Rose Marita ministers as a greeter at Providence Spirituality & Conference Center (PSCC) on Mondays and Fridays. But on Wednesdays, she heads to the Providence Hall activity room kitchen to bake.

And for most of that day, the kitchen belongs to her.

“I get up at 3 a.m., and start baking at 4 a.m.,” she said.

All types of breads, from banana, chocolate chip to her famous Irish Soda breads. On every Wednesday, the aroma of the breads can be smelled throughout Providence Hall.

“It drives everyone crazy when they smell it,” Sister Rose Marita said.

Some of her breads are sold at Linden Leaf Gifts. And she gives the loaves that do not sell back to her Sisters of Providence.

Everyone at The Woods knows how much Sister Rose Marita loves the art of baking. So much so that she has had recipes dropped off at her room anonymously.

Sister Rose Marita Riordan.

Sister Rose Marita was born on May 2, 1921. She is 95 years old and has been a Sister of Providence for 77 years, having entered the Congregation on Jan. 5, 1939.

Prior to coming back to Saint Mary-of-the-Woods in 1990, Sister Rose Marita spent 50 years in education, including ministering as a principal in schools in North Carolina and Washington, D.C.

When she returned to The Woods, she ministered at Woods Day Care/Pre-School. But health problems forced her to end her time there, so she began ministering at PSCC.

In 2014, Sister Rose Marita said of her daily routine, “I enjoy life. I really do. I don’t worry about things. I thank God every morning and say, ‘Jesus, another day. Thank you.’”

Even her cancer diagnosis late last year hasn’t changed Sister Rose Marita’s outlook on life.

“I am just trying to enjoy life,” she said. “After all, you don’t turn the oven on to bake and stand around and watch it heat up.”

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Jason Moon

Jason Moon serves as media relations manager for the Sisters of Providence. Previously, he spent more than 16 years in the newspaper industry.

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7 Comments

  1. Debbie Victor on February 7, 2017 at 8:04 am

    Nice article, Jason. LOVE LOVE LOVE my Sister Rose, my daily inspiration.

  2. Donna Butler on February 7, 2017 at 8:40 am

    How we love our “energizer bunny” as we call her! Thank you, Jason, for sharing her story and her wonderful, inspiring spirit.

    Thank you, Rose, for gracing our days with your smile and your generosity as well as your wonderful baked breads.

  3. Debbie Dillow on February 7, 2017 at 10:24 am

    What a beautiful reflection on a tremendous woman of God. I love seeing S. Rose Marita at PSCC so full of life and a welcoming spirit. Her breads are the best and I like to pick up a loaf when I am at the Woods. It doesn’t last long once it enters the door of my house – my husband can’t wait to cut into the Irish Soda Bread.

  4. Paula Modaff, S.P. on February 10, 2017 at 6:41 pm

    Rose, I feel we got to know each other a bit better when we both volunteered on Fridays at PSCC. I miss our conversations and I am grateful for the wisdom you shared.

  5. Theresa Tighe on February 13, 2017 at 10:26 pm

    Dear Sister Rose Marita,
    I have never met you, but reading about you and seeing your picture introduced to me and I love you. I’m sure your prayers, your volunteer work and your baking make this world a better place. St.Therese drops love like rose petals from heaven. Being hit in the head with a loaf of bread might injure those praying for aid, but I bet when you get to heaven, you find a way to feed our souls.

  6. Eunice Goodman-Norton on February 15, 2017 at 9:25 am

    Thank you for the article on Sister Rose Marita! She was one of my grade school teachers at St. Bridget’s School in Indpls. IN. Had it not been for her, I wouldn’t have been baptized a Catholic. You see no one in my family was Catholic and she campaigned for approval to allow me be baptized! I will never forget her nor stop thanking GID for her! She is such an inspiration to all! She is beautiful inside and out! What a glorious crown awaits her for all of her good deeds and compassion for others!

  7. Eunice Goodman-Norton on February 15, 2017 at 9:26 am

    Thank you for the article on Sister Rose Marita! She was one of my grade school teachers at St. Bridget’s School in Indpls. IN. Had it not been for her, I wouldn’t have been baptized a Catholic. You see no one in my family was Catholic and she campaigned for approval to allow me be baptized! I will never forget her nor stop thanking GID for her! She is such an inspiration to all! She is beautiful inside and out! What a glorious crown awaits her for all of her good deeds and compassion for others!

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