MERIDEN, CT (06-24-2018) – Archbishop Daniel A. Cronin, Archbishop Emeritus of Hartford, noted the significance of the crowd gathered to celebrate the second death anniversary of Mother Rosemae Pender, FSE, Mother Foundress, at a Mass in the Franciscan Sisters’ Chapel of St. John. In his homily, the Archbishop spoke of Mother Rosemae’s influence in the Church as represented by the cross-section of priests, religious men and women, and dedicated lay faithful present to honor the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist’s foundress on the solemnity of the birth of St. John the Baptist. Archbishop Cronin spoke of Mother Rosemae as a “John the Baptist person.” As John represented the end of the Old Testament prophets, and prepared the way for the coming of Christ, he bridged the old and the new. The Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist were founded as a result of Vatican II, and, as Mother Rosemae had lived religious life for years before the Vatican Council, she brought forth the new Community out of the former way of religious life into a new expression, along with Mother Shaun Vergauwen, Co-foundress. The growth and outreach of the Community, as signified by the many persons in attendance at the Mass, is a tribute to the efforts of the foundresses and their openness to the workings of the Holy Spirit, the Archbishop continued.
At the conclusion of the second anniversary Mass, the congregation processed outside for the ringing of the chimes dedicated to the memory of Mother Rosemae. The Franciscan Sisters expressed gratitude for the eight priest concelebrants, the two deacons, the eight religious orders present for the Mass. The afternoon concluded with a reception for all in the Chiara Center.
Mother Rosemae died on June 26, 2016, during the jubilee Mass, in the same Chapel of St. John, as the Community and over 250 friends celebrated her 75th anniversary of vows. After the Gospel, she renewed her vows into the hands of Mother Shaun, then Mother General, and then received the renewal of vows of Mother Shaun whose 60th jubilee was also being celebrated. Mother Rosemae presented the Franciscan Sisters’ Constitution to Archbishop Henry J. Mansell, celebrant, during the offertory procession, and soon after, fell ill. Mother Rosemae was anointed by Reverend Jeffrey Romans, and died in an adjacent room as the Eucharistic liturgy continued. The shock of Mother Rosemae’s death reverberated around the world as hundreds of messages of condolence and expressions of gratitude, admiration and love were received by the Community from Church officials, friends and persons who had been profoundly influenced by Mother Rosemae.