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Shock: Foundress of order dies during her Jubilee Mass

Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 06/29/16

From the website of the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist: 

Mother Rosemae Pender, FSE, Mother Foundress of the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist, entered eternal life suddenly during the celebration Mass for her 75th Jubilee of vows. Mother Rosemae had received the renewal of vows of Mother Shaun Vergauwen, FSE, Mother General, also a jubilarian, and then renewed her own vows into the hands of Mother Shaun. Following the renewal of vows, Mother Rosemae presented the Constitutions of the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist to Archbishop Emeritus Henry J. Mansell, principal celebrant, during the offertory procession. She then suffered a massive heart attack and died before the end of Mass. Over 260 friends, religious, and priests were present in the chapel for this most profound and historic moment.

Additional details on her life and her order from the Archdiocese of Hartford Facebook page:

Mother Rosemae Pender was born Sept. 11, 1921 in Elgin, Illinois, the second daughter of George and Rose Pender, and was named Norma Joan. She entered the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, La Crosse, Wisconsin and professed first vows in 1941. She administered and taught in elementary schools in Iowa and Wisconsin and later, taught English at Viterbo College, La Crosse. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Viterbo College in 1951 and a Master of Arts degree in English from The Catholic University of America in 1957. From 1959-1960 she studied at Regina Mundi in Rome in preparation for directing the religious formation of young Sisters. She also pursued post-masters studies at St. Louis University. From 1960 to 1964, Sister Rosemae was the director of postulants, and from 1964 to 1970, the director of junior sisters. In 1964 she was elected to the General Council, the administrative body assisting the Mother General in the governance of the Community. In the 1960’s, as the Vatican Council asked religious communities to initiate programs of renewal to revitalize and update religious life to meet contemporary needs, Sister Rosemae, along with fellow formation directors and provincial leaders in the Community, formed a group for the purpose of renewal. This group was approved by the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration as a province named the Provisional Province. In 1973 the Vatican approved the transition of members of the Provisional Province to a new religious order of pontifical status which was named the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist. Mother Rosemae was named as the superior and subsequently, was elected as the Mother General, serving until 2005. She is known as the Mother Foundress with Mother Shaun Vergauwen as Co-foundress. As foundress, she was the rock of foundation and revered by the Community for her many gifts, especially her intense and abiding love of the Church, her maternal wisdom and perception, and her attentive love for individuals and each one’s particular needs. Mother Rosemae is survived by her Sisters in Community, the Franciscan Brothers of the Eucharist, the Franciscan Apprentices, and numerous bishops, priests, religious men and women, and friends throughout the world. The FSE Community serves the Church in the USA, Assisi and Rome, Italy, the Holy Land and Vancouver, BC.

Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her …  

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