Christopher Lushis
Freelance Writer
December 18, 2018 // Diocese

Joy, love consummated in profession of perpetual vows

Christopher Lushis
Freelance Writer

On the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the universal Church celebrated the miracle of Mary’s powerful intercession and triumph over evil effected through her obedient participation in the will of God. Simultaneously, the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend also rejoiced in the witness of another faithful woman committing herself to the Lord and sharing uniquely in His redemptive mission of salvation.

Sister Rose Caritas, a Poor Sister of St. Clare, accompanied by her religious sisters and in view of her children, grandchildren, numerous priests and many other friends, publicly professed to Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades her intention to live as a cloistered nun in unlimited consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary — in obedience, without property and in chastity — for her entire life.

Sister Rose Caritas of the Poor Sisters of St. Clare prepares to offer her vows during the Rite of Perpetual Profession at St. John the Baptist Church, Fort Wayne, Dec. 12. Sister Rose wears a crown of thorns made from the garden outside their convent where she will live out her vows. — Photos by Jerry Kessens

Bishop Rhoades, reflecting upon the beauty of Sister Rose’s  life and courageous decision to permanently embrace a vocation that gives powerful life to the Church in a hidden and often unrecognized way, remarked: “At the Annunciation, Mary gives an example of obedience to God’s will, even as it is shrouded in mystery. Karen Robertson, a beloved mother and grandmother, has listened to the Holy Spirit and discovered God’s call to the consecrated life as a cloistered nun. Like Mary, she puts her trust in the Lord and says ‘yes’ to this call. Her religious name, Sister Rose Caritas, reminds us of Mary, the rose God extends to the world; and of charity, the perfection of all the virtues.”

He continued: “After Mary conceived the Son of God in her womb, she immediately set off to perform an act of charity. She went in haste to help her cousin Elizabeth and to bring Jesus to her. ‘Caritas’ means ‘charity.’ The vows of poverty, chastity and obedience mean nothing if not rooted in caritas. They are meant to be expressions of love. In the hidden life of the cloister, the Poor Sisters of St. Clare are called to live together in charity and, through their prayers and sacrifices, their intercession for the Church and the world, they extend God’s love and serve the Church’s mission of salvation. They will seldom know what fruits will be borne of their prayers, but they leave that in God’s hands.”

Her full name, Sister Rose Caritas of the Mother of the Clergy and Valiant Prince St. Michael, reveals her courageous desire to intercede for the Church, especially for its priests, and to aid in their defense through spiritual battle.

Sharing with elation and thankfulness for the many blessings God has given her, she exclaimed: “The gratitude and joy I have! The fact that God is letting me do this, and that He chose me, before time, to give me two vocations, to let me have children and be married and now to marry Him — who gets to do this? He has given me such a joyful heart. I just have joy and I am so grateful for that, because that joy is all about Him and I am beyond wonder for this.”

“We just don’t have any idea how much He loves us, and in every little thing He shows me that love,” she continued. “It’s just too beautiful. Of course, there are tough times, there is sorrow, but the joy and sorrow are so mixed that it becomes one thing.”

Sister Rose, who married at the age of 17, shared that when her husband of 41 years suddenly passed away over 10 years ago, she thought God might direct the next chapter of her life. “I just felt like God had a plan for me. I didn’t know it was this!”

“I have never felt like this,” she continued. “To be able to have my three children, their spouses and my grandchildren share this with me and be involved in this Mass is incredible. I feel overflown with love.”

The ceremony included Bishop Rhoades bestowing a wedding ring upon Sister Rose, signifying her perpetual espousal to God, as well as a crown of thorns made from the sisters’ garden outside their convent, where she will daily live out her vows.

She explained, “I am wearing Jesus’ crown with Him, and my marriage bed is the cross.”

Her sister, Jill Wright, a parishioner at St. Jude, Fort Wayne, shared how Sister Rose’s journey has uplifted their family.

“It was very tough in the beginning. We weren’t really sure what all this entailed, and where she was headed. However, as time has passed, we have seen so many graces from God. We are beyond blessed. We have all grown tremendously in our faith, but also as a family unit. There is really no one else you can talk to about such a life-changing event, who will understand what you’re going through, except for your own siblings. Even without her present in our everyday lives, the blessings, the miracles, the graces of God are abundant.”

Darlene Simpson, whom Sister Rose encountered through 40 Days for Life, served as coordinator for the “wedding” ceremony. Simpson shared: “I watched her journey of faith, and I could see in her life how she was changed, especially through her daily hour of eucharistic adoration. No matter what, she always got that hour in. My faith has grown just by watching her.”

Twelve priests and one deacon concelebrated the Mass, alongside the grandchildren and friends of Sister Rose who assisted as altar servers. The music was coordinated and performed by Thomas Saul, Bernadette Becker and Robert Becker.

In his final remarks, Bishop reminded those present that “Sister Rose Caritas has not asked ‘What’s in it for me?’ Her only question has been ‘What is God’s will?’ This should always be our question too.” Yet, he emphasized to her, “You do not lose your freedom today any more than Mary lost her freedom on the day of the Annunciation. In entrusting yourself totally to God, you find true freedom.”

“In entering the cloister, you did not distance yourself from your family and friends or withdraw into your private salvation, but you have become closer to them through prayer and the love of God. Last month, Pope Francis spoke of the mission of cloistered nuns as ‘the praying heart of the Church.’ I am so grateful to Sister Rose Caritas and to all our Poor Sisters of St. Clare. Sisters: You are the praying heart of the Church in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend!”

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