Rosemary Shaughnessy, BVM (Gerald)

Rosemary Shaughnessy, BVM (Gerald) died Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017, at Marian Hall in Dubuque, Iowa. Visitation will be from 9–11 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017, in the Marian Hall Chapel followed by a prayer service at 11 a.m. Funeral liturgy will be at 1:30 p.m. Burial is in the Mount Carmel cemetery.

She was born in Chicago on Oct. 24, 1929, to Edward Francis and Joan Marie Schmitz Shaughnessy. She entered the BVM congregation Feb. 2, 1950, from St. Jerome Parish, Chicago. She professed first vows on Aug. 15, 1952, and final vows on Aug. 15, 1957.

Rosemary taught elementary school and was principal in Chicago, Cicero and Berwyn, Ill. Also in Chicago, she worked in the business office and was associate/assistant director of financial aid at Mundelein College; and taught math at Madonna HS. She served the BVM congregation as administrative assistant to the secretary of the congregation and as volunteer in retirement. Sister was also a RUSH study participant.

She was preceded in death by her parents and brother Edward Shaughnessy. She is survived by brothers: David C. (Eileen) Shaughnessy (Schaumburg, Ill.); Terrence J. Shaughnessy (Arlington Heights, Ill.); and Rev. Thomas P. Shaughnessy, SSC (St. Columbans, Neb.); nieces; nephews; and the Sisters of Charity, BVM, with whom she shared life for 66 years.

Sister Rosemary Shaughnessy, BVM (Gerald)
Funeral Welcome
Marian Hall, Jan. 31, 2017

Good afternoon and welcome to the celebration of life of our Sister Rosemary Shaughnessy.

Rosemary Shaughnessy entered this world on Oct. 24, 1929, as the second of five children, and the only daughter, born to Edward Francis and Joan Marie Schmitz Shaughnessy of Chicago, Ill. She joined a brother Edward while brothers David, Terrence and Thomas followed. As was often the case during the Depression, her father lost his job, but fortunately found a new one with Railway Express. Meanwhile, her mother cared for the children at home, obtaining part-time employment at a bank when they were older.

Rosemary graduated from The Immaculata High School in Chicago and worked for two years as an IBM operator in the office of the Northern Trust Company. After several years of consideration, she entered the congregation on Feb. 2, 1950, and received the name Gerald upon her reception on Aug. 15, 1950. She professed her first vows on Aug. 15, 1952 and died just five days before marking 67 years as a BVM.

Rosemary was a very gifted teacher, especially in the area of mathematics. For 17 years, she taught junior high students at St. Agatha, St. Eugene, and St. Tarcissus in Chicago and at Mary Queen of Heaven in Cicero, Ill. She served as superior and principal at St. Odilo in Berwyn, Ill., and taught math at Madonna HS in Chicago. She also worked 19 years in the financial aid offices at Mundelein College and Loyola University.

A former colleague wrote, “I came to Mundelein to manage the financial aid office in 1984, and then took on the Weekend College as well. Rosemary was a wonderful colleague and a model for how to serve students. I had not managed an entire operation before and she was a huge help on many fronts . . . [She] inspired me to persist in this field and focus much of my efforts on supporting working adults, particularly women. For that, I thank [her].

For five years, Rosemary served the BVM community as the administrative assistant to the secretary of the congregation. Before coming to the secretary’s office, she closed St. Tarcissus convent. The pastor offered the furniture to the congregation, so she arranged to have much of it shipped to Dubuque to furnish the Circle apartments that were under construction. She later lived in the apartments with Sister Jean Monica Lanahan. Together they enjoyed hosting many dinner parties. A delightful evening with a beautifully set table and a scrumptious meal awaited their guests. For larger affairs, the party moved to 940 D with Rosemary’s brother, Father Tom, often providing the meat.

Family was very important to Rosemary. After her mother moved to a care facility, she assumed the role of family representative and managing her mother’s finances while continuing to work at Mundelein. This service was but one of the many ways in which she supported her brothers and shared her fondness for them. Vacationing with them brought her to the Philippines, Rome, and the Outer Banks of South Carolina. She also traveled to the Holy Land and Ireland and made annual trips to the BVM property, the Spiders, to enjoy swimming and boating. Her love of travel perfectly matched her sense of curiosity. Upon returning from visiting her brother in Maryland, she enthusiastically imparted information about the state’s history like a docent.

Rosemary was known for her candor as well as her calming, easy disposition that allowed her to take things in stride. Her wry sense of humor put all in perspective, but one had to be sharp to catch it. She could be quite strict but she also could be lots of fun. During her novitiate days, she shared many funny stories about working with Sister Mary Celsa Riordin, BVM in the Motherhouse chapel. After a blizzard closed St. Odilo School, Rosemary, along other sisters, went for a walk in the snow. “We stopped at teachers’ homes,” recalled a sister. “[We] said we were out collecting milk money [and] we all had a good laugh.” Rosemary was a person for whom service meant a great deal; she quietly cared for many in need such as reading for those who could not see the print. One friend commented, “[She] was a lovely person and a joy to live with and to know.”

In an open letter to her set on their golden jubilee, Rosemary wrote, “What has happened to me over the years? I have learned much, and hope that it has translated into greater wisdom. I have prayed much and hope that I have deepened and strengthened my spirituality. I have lived with BVMs over the years and they all have taught me by their very lives and deaths. I have worked and played and traveled. I have been to other countries and observed other cultures—such enriching and sobering adventures.”

With the words of St. Paul, we bid farewell to our sister Rosemary as she sets off on her greatest adventure ever: “[We] give thanks to [our] God always, remembering you in [our] prayers.” Rosemary, may you find great joy abiding in the loving arms of Jesus.

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