Sister Rosalie Weber, MM
Born: January 19, 1899
Entered: February 2, 1922
Died: February 23, 1982
Today we come together to celebrate as community and as family the life, death and resurrection of our beloved Sister Rosalie Weber. We want to welcome the Weber Family and to say how happy we are to have them with us. We share deeply their sorrow and pain at the loss of one so dear. But we would be untrue to Sister Rosalie’s spirit of faith and hope if we did not also share the joy and fulfillment that is hers today.
Marie Ann Weber was born on January 19, 1899, the ninth child of Mary and George Weber. Love and devotion to her family was an outstanding trait of Sister Rosalie, and their devotion to her has always been reciprocal. Coming from a large family, she rejoiced in the extension of life to great, great grand-nephews and nieces. Through them her family influence reaches far into the future, just as she was influenced by her aunt, Sister Catherine, a Sister of Charity who was the first American Catholic missionary in China. The inspiration of this woman eventually led Sister Rosalie to Maryknoll when our Congregation was still in its infancy. She drove her own car to Maryknoll and thereby became the first Maryknoll Sister driver way back in 1922 (2/2/22).
Sister Rosalie was professed on April 19, 1924 and made her final vows on the same day in 1927. She was assigned to China in 1924 where she taught the Kindergarten for 8 years and always had many tales to tell of those pioneering days. Pioneering was characteristic of her and always called forth her zest for life in the challenge of the new. She was recalled from China to be a part of the first group to begin the Cloister in 1932 and brought her many talents to the establishment and growth of this new venture in Maryknoll. Again she was chosen to be a part of the pioneering group to begin the Cloister in Gallup, New Mexico in 1971.
The particular extension which marked the growth and expansion of the Cloister in the early 1970’s also took root in Sister Rosalie’s own life. The past ten years was a period when her life came to full flowering. The hidden-ness and beauty of the life within more and more revealed itself in vitality and creativity. These last ten years were fruitful ones for Sister Rosalie and her companions. Like spring buds waiting summer sun to burst forth so were the appearance of gifts, beautiful and true, which began to reveal themselves from the start of her desert journey. Sister’s very human personality reached out to many, establishing relationships that received the wisdom of simplicity and also the truth of forgiveness.
Even physically Sister Rosalie grew stronger during these desert years. The geographical apartness and desert silence enhanced still other gifts of sight and hearing. She had a gift for writing and liked to make her ideas concrete by putting them on paper. In reflecting on her writings, it is easy to perceive that a clearer vision and deeper hearing were more and more apparent. ‘Reality’, ‘awareness’ ‘the concrete’, ‘the real and necessary steps of forgiveness are some of the thoughts that occupied her and moved her spirit until this last decade of life came to its final stage. The very humanness of her struggles was matched by the wisdom with which she observed and evaluated them.
Sister Rosalie was someone so capable of on-going conversion in both thought and life; capable and receptive to enlightenment in prayer, both regarding the mysteries of our faith and the meaning of human events. An Incarnate God who spoke to us in the here and now was the daily preoccupation of Sister Rosalie. The mystery of the Trinity in daily life was continually being revealed to her. Freely she received, freely she gave.
Another moment of summer warmth touching the bud was her last illness. With a gentleness that was both peace-filled and joyous, Sister Rosalie reached out and welcomed the last gift. As she surrendered to the illness that took her so quickly, she let go of her most cherished wish – that of living, dying and being buried in Navajoland. With this surrender she stepped forward with peace and joy to enter the fulness of the awareness she had so often glimpsed in life. The welcoming simplicity and ease of the last step speaks the fruit of her journey in Maryknoll and in life. On the evening of February 23rd at our Maryknoll Nursing Home Sister Rosalie gave her final surrender to her Lord.
As we move into the Liturgy, I would like to read from a paper written by Sister Rosalie entitled, “Faith, Hope and Consciousness”:
“There are truths based on sacred Scripture that fill our lives with profound faith and hope for all our days until the end of our pilgrimage on earth. They filled us with a conviction that eternity and mortality are not separated, but one in reality and unity with and in God and one another. All time and space are centered in God.
“When faith and hope find fulfillment at the end of our earthly journey, only then will we become fully conscious of our abiding presence in God and God in us. This does not begin at the journey’s end; but all through life on earth we experience it in reality through faith and hope in God. ‘Not seeing, we believe; not seeing, we love.’ ”
“What are we anticipating at the journey’s end? When faith becomes reality to us in vision, and hope reaches fulfillment in eternity, we will become conscious of where we have been all through mortal life. Then our consciousness of being in God and one another will fill us with wonderment, love, joy and adoration for all eternity. Face to face, we will sing our thanksgiving to God…’God is love, and those who abide in love, abide in God and God in them.’ “
What we celebrate today is our gratitude for the truth we have seen and heard in Sister Rosalie’s life. We join her also in celebrating the culmination of faithful love.
We are happy and privileged to have today as our main celebrant, Bishop Jerome Hastrich of the Gallup Diocese; and concelebrants Maryknoll Fathers: Bishop Edward A. McGurkin, Joseph R. Lang, Robert E. Sheridan, Edward J. Manning, and Norbert J. Rans; also Rev. Thomas March, OFM, Cap., and the Rev. Michael J. Phillips.