|4/12/2012 9:01:00 AM|
SISTERS OF ST. JOSEPH
Active sister recounts
One of the early jobs held by Sister Rosemary Endres, CSJ, gave her free tickets to a Nat King Cole concert. She also met big-band era greats like Tex Beneke and Sammy Kaye.
|On March 17, 30 Sisters of Saint Joseph of Carondelet marked significant anniversaries of religious life (former names are in parentheses). Above are the 60th jubilarians: Sisters Jean Albert Burns, Agnes Rose Burton, Geraldine Corkrey (Raymond Marie), Margaret Louise Duffy, Rosemary Endres (Anne Michael), Gilmary Fischer, Joan Killoran (Germaine Marie), Anthony Marie Leary, Marie Denise Monser, Janice Elizabeth O’Neil (Elizabeth Michael), Clare Therese Pelkey and Joanne St. Hilaire (Anna Magdaline)|
Sisters Marcia Allen and Frances Patricia Degnan (pictured at left) and Sisters Mary Dorena Dwyer, Jeanne Johnson (Jeanne Miriam), Mary Ethna Kapfer and Mary Karol Smolka
Sisters Francis Patrick Burns, Jean Martin Hyde and Margaret Madden (Bridget Agnes)
Sisters Donna Marie Bradle, Mary Bruce (Michael Marie), Augusta Ann Burgess, Janet Furman (John Renee), Honora Margaret Kinney (Stephen Francis), Jeanne Marie Lippincott (Kenneth Marie), Yvette Martin (Peter Joseph), Dolores Anelle Sollecito (Vincent Michael) and Serena Thompson (Agnes Raymond)
A graduate of Catholic schools in Syracuse, Sister Rosemary worked in office settings that included a record distribution department at RCA Victor.
"You heard all the records first," she remembered. "I was there when they went from 78 to 45 [RPM]."
Two of her high school classmates had entered the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet in Albany and encouraged her to do so, too - but she kept talking herself out of it.
"I was rather restless, but I convinced myself that I could never leave home," Sister Rosemary said. "One day, it just hit me that I should enter. I guess the classmates' prayers were stronger than my pushing it aside."
Sister Rosemary quit her final job doing payroll for a store and entered the religious congregation just before her 24th birthday. Today, at 84, she's celebrating her 60th anniversary as a sister.
Her teaching career took her as far away as Hawaii; she spent four decades in social service ministry in Schenectady. She's still running a food pantry for the city's needy and homebound that she and another sister opened in 1985.
Sister Rosemary's youthful fears of homesickness never came true, despite not being able to travel home for her first seven years as a sister.
"I thought there would be an awful lot more sacrifice," she told The Evangelist. "The longer you're in the order, it gets easier."
The religious order evolved, too: "When we first entered, we couldn't read the newspaper," part of "cutting off our ties to the world."
By 1967, after the Second Vatican Council, many rules were relaxed - including silence during meals. Sister Rosemary joked that she no longer worried about "keeping [her] mouth closed." Having initially been called Sister Anne Michael, she also reverted to her baptismal name.
Sister Rosemary's first assignments were to teach in Catholic schools in the Albany Diocese. She later volunteered to go to Waipahu, Hawaii, a former sugar mill town, to teach the children of U.S. servicemen and of Japanese, Filipino and Chinese laborers. There were as many as 51 students in a grade.
"We always learn more from the people we teach" than they learn from the teacher, she said, recalling one mother who harvested pineapples to pay for her child's tuition. "You learn to respect other cultures. The 'aloha' spirit is very beautiful and loving."
In 1967, Sister Rosemary returned to the Albany Diocese. She taught science in Troy, served as principal of St. Columba's School in Schenectady and was a parish associate and religious education coordinator at Sacred Heart/St. Columba parish. In the late 1980s, she worked at a St. Vincent de Paul Society thrift store before dedicating herself to the food pantry she helped start at Sacred Heart Church.
The pantry, now sponsored by St. Joseph's Church and its Christian Service Committee, serves more than 200 clients each month.
"I just hope that, in serving people, I've been of some help to them. They've always been there for me," Sister Rosemary said.
As former students still fondly remember her, she credits the support of others for the longevity of many Sisters of St. Joseph: Six celebrate their 75th anniversary in religious life this year.
"Longevity is with us," Sister Rosemary said, adding that she's "never been happier" as a sister.
She believes her religious order will evolve and "survive. I see the lives that our sisters are living, that they venture out and they've gone into all different ministries. I hope it would be our example [that inspires women to join]."
What if Sister Rosemary's legacy inspires others to join?
"If that were to happen, that would be Christ calling, and I would just be the middleman," she said. "When we look at the world, look at all the violence, we should really question: 'What can I do to make a difference? Can we be peacemakers in the world?'
"I've tried, and that's all you can do."
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