Sister Mary Rose loved her brownies

During my novitiate years, I baked ... a lot.  Baking therapy has always been a good coping mechanism for me.  The beauty of living at east coast groovy sister hq for the majority of my novitiate years was that I had a ready made audience for my baking therapy.  I baked cookies for the maintenance staff, cakes for the elderly sisters next door, and brownies for Sister Mary Rose.

Sister Mary Rose was a lovely (and somewhat mischievous) Sister who lived in the infirmary next door to the novitiate.  Each day she would write little jokes on the white board in the pantry to entertain the Sisters and staff as they got their morning cup of coffee.  She was also deeply prayerful, faithfully taking her walker into the chapel for daily office, liturgy, and just to visit with Jesus for a while.

While we were living next door as novices, we were invited to join the Sisters for their Sunday afternoon meal each week.  Most times, we would bring dessert.  I had discovered a brownie recipe (which, truth be told, comes mostly from a box mix) for triple chocolate brownies.  The first week I made them, Sister Mary Rose wheeled her walker over to the table where we were sitting and said, dramatically, "Which one of you made these DELICIOUS brooowwwnies." (She was born in Brooklyn so add the accent for full effect).  I confessed.  She smiled, winked, and walked away.

From that day forward, she was always sure to let me know how much she appreciated it when the dessert selection included the triple chocolate brownies.  Even when it didn't, she'd politely thank me but tell me it was nothing like those brownies.  After I left New Jersey to start ministry in Seattle, whenever I would come back to east coast groovy sister hq for a meeting she'd be sure to stop by and tell me how much she missed me .... and my brownies.

Well, Sister Mary Rose passed away on Sunday at the age of 92. As I read her obituary, I remembered that her baptismal name was Susan.  We'd bonded over that one day ... the fact that she's a Susan turned Mary Rose and that I was baptized a Susan Rose.

I found the little essay on our website that she wrote on the occasion of her 70th Jubilee a few years back.  Here's an excerpt, typical of her mix of class and mischief:

My seventy years in religious life have made me strong as stone and fragile as a rose. I entered from Brooklyn in 1936 and continue to appreciate the beauty of religious life. ... Now that I am older and a retiree, I experience slow motion at times. I depend much on God's grace. My goal is to live and die in peace. Only this lends meaning to my life and death. Since this year celebrates the Jubilee Sabbath, the following quote from Sabbath Presence best describes what I strive for as a Sister of St. Joseph of Peace, “ . . . A relationship with God, with others, with the created world and with the inner self.” 

Goodbye Mary Rose.  Enjoy the brownies in heaven.  I hear they are all you can eat.

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