Biographies

Sister Rosana Shanahan, MM

Born: May 7, 1917
Entered: December 7, 1935
Died: March 29, 1978

In a reading from St. Peter for the Easter Season we see: “Let us give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! Because of His great mercy, He gave us new life by raising Jesus Christ from the dead. This fills us with a living hope, and with the promise of an inheritance that can never be spoiled or soiled and never fade away.”

This promise of the power of Christ’s resurrection has been present among us in the life and death of Sister Rosana Shanahan, who died peacefully at 12:30 on Wednesday morning, March 29th, at Bethany. Her time of suffering had been long and agonizing, especially during Holy Week, when she entered deeply and trustingly into the Paschal Mystery. Her last words to her Maryknoll Sisters were those of the “Hail Mary” which they were praying together.

Rose Anna Shanahan was born on May 7, 1917 in Pompey, New York. She attended elementary and high school there and entered Maryknoll on December 7, 1935. She received the name of Sister Miriam Jogues at Reception, and made her first profession on June 30, 1938 at Maryknoll, New York; she made her final vows three years later in Los Angeles.

After attending Maryknoll Teacher’s College, Sister Rosana was assigned to Fushun, Manchuria, but shortly after arriving there she was part of a group that had to return to the United States because of the war situation. Except for two years in Panama, Sister spent her entire life committed to mission U.S.A. She taught for many years in the Maryknoll School at Los Angeles, and also for a time at St. Anthony’s School in the Bronx, at San Juan Bautista, Tucson, Arizona, and San Juan Capistrano.

Sister loved her Maryknoll Community and was always interested in other people and what was happening to them. She was an active member of the Western U.S. Region and kept up communication with the Sisters there, supporting their work with her prayers and lively interest. Just before Christmas this year, from Bethany, she wrote to the Sisters in the Region, “I sneaked out of bed last night to watch the soft snow fall from the sky. I was like a child, as I haven’t beheld this miracle for about twenty years.”

Rosana was gifted with both deep simplicity and strong determination. She was determined to live life as fully as possible and to do things for herself as long as she could. I looked forward to visiting her and sharing in her beautiful life-giving spirit so evident in her concern for others. Her red hair and sparkling eyes had always bespoke the spirit within her, and even when her body became weaker and weaker, her spirit was not diminished, for it communicated itself all the more eloquently and joyfully through her eyes. She talked about her suffering and death in a very realistic way. One of the last times I visited her, she mentioned that she had expected the pain that came with her illness, but had found the great weakness that accompanied it difficult. It was as though her spirit yearned to do so much more than her body was able to respond. Those who lived with Sister found her a very generous, practical, and comfortable person to be with. She lived her commitment to the Lord prayerfully, peacefully, and with much joy and enthusiasm. She was a gifted teacher and thoroughly enjoyed young people.

Sister Rosana loved her family very much and these past months received much happiness and strength from their visits and evident love and concern. Her sister, visited her each week and this was a real source of joy and comfort to her. All of her brothers and sisters plan to be present for the Mass of the Resurrection to be celebrated at The Center chapel today at noon. The principal celebrant will be Father Gerald J.Ryan who served at St. Anthony’s in the Bronx when Rosana was there.

We rejoice with Sister whose suffering has been transformed into Resurrection joy, and we thank the Lord for the gift of her life with us. Let us pray for her and offer the Eucharist for her peace and happiness in the Lord.