Our beloved Mother Foundress enters eternal life

M Rosemae

MERIDEN, CT (06-26-2016) - 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 at the Franciscan Sisters’ Chapel of St. John. 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 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.

Mother Rosemae 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.

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Mother Rosemae, Mother Foundress, and Mother Shaun, Mother General and Co-foundress

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.

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Mother Rosemae gives her blessing to Sister Mary Mercy Lee as she is received into the novitiate on May 29, 2016.

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.

A wake was held at the Chapel of St. John, 269 Finch Avenue, Meriden, Connecticut, on Sunday, July 10th from 2:00-5:00 p.m. followed by Vespers for the Dead and Benediction offered by the Reverend Christopher Tiano. A Mass of Christian Burial was held on Monday, July 11th at 11:00 a.m. at Holy Angels Church, 585 Main Street, South Meriden, Connecticut. followed by refreshments at the Franciscan Sisters' Chiara Center, 275 Finch Avenue, Meriden. The burial was in Transitus Cemetery of the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist, Meriden. Funeral arrangements were under the direction of Sister Patricia Glass, FSE, funeral director and Wallingford Funeral Home.

See more about the funeral here: "Friends around the world express grief and awe at the significant death of Mother Rosemae."