Sister Rose Francois

My first name, Susan, is in honor of – believe it or not – my family’s babysitter. I was the 5th child, what can I say? And from all accounts, she was a wonderful woman.

But my middle name, Rose, is a family name. That’s the tradition in my family. According to my mom Rose was in honor of her Aunt Rose. According to my dad, it was in honor of his great-Aunt Rose, who was also a nun.

Sr. Rose Francois was a member of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, which she entered at the ripe old age of 15 in 1857. She died in 1904. My brother recently sent me some material he received from the FSPA archives. He rightly assumed I (Sr. Susan Rose Francois) might be interested in learning about the life and ministry of Sr. Rose Francois.

Turns out she was a bit of a big wig in her community’s history. She was Sister Assistant (which one of her obituaries likened to “Vice President”) for a total of 32 and ½ years! She was also the administrator of the community’s hospital, St Francis Hospital in La Crosse Wisconsin, for 20 years.

Her obituary from the local newspaper had this to say:

At the opening of the present St. Francis Hospital in 1883, she was appointed as its Superior. The predominant unity and progress in this institution is due to a great extent to her indefatigable activity. She worked faithfully and zealously in the service of the sick, was outstanding for her peaceful disposition and her vivacious congeniality. With exceptional skill she directed the administration of the hospital, and it won’t be easy to replace her.

Perhaps the most touching piece of history in the file is this from the Hospital Diary:

May 17, 1887. Mr. Francois (her father and my great grandfather) who was suffering for several days happily expired at 4:30 PM. About three o’clock he began to fail rapidly. Father Rheinhardt was sent for, he said the prayers for the dying. Mr. Francois answered the prayers with great fervor, then sat up to recover breath, in a few minutes he was supported by Sister Assistant (Sister Rose) and died in her arms. Rev. Mother and several sisters were present. Funeral will be Saturday.

1 comment:

Garpu the Fork said...

That's way cool...I don't have anyone remotely famous in my family...