August 3, 2015
The bells of Annunciation Monastery south of Bismarck joyfully proclaimed the good news of the perpetual monastic profession of Sr. Rosemary DeGracia on June 27. This newest member of the Benedictine community and widow with five grown children took a less-than-traditional route to becoming a Sister.
“The idea of becoming a sister had been percolating in the years following my husband’s death,” she explains. Sister Rosemary explored several Benedictine communities prior to God’s tug in the direction of Annunciation Monastery. Her first visit was in January of 2008.
“The prayer of the community was, and remains, the most important aspect to me. Sitting in our chapel praying the Liturgy of the Hours with the Sisters open to God’s promptings led me to realize this is where I belong.” She made her first monastic profession on Aug. 27, 2011.
Before Sr. Rosemary applied for the first stage of formation, she talked to each one of her children. They were not entirely surprised, she says, that she felt God was calling her to become a Sister. “They had questions, of course, but have always been very supportive.” So supportive, in fact, that her daughters recently surprised her with a water sipper bearing the social media hashtag #mynunmom.
Sister Rosemary was raised in Rockford, Ill., and lived in Fresno, Calif., for 30 years prior to coming to Annunciation Monastery. She received her undergraduate degree in sociology from California State University, Fresno, where she also did graduate work in public administration. Sister Rosemary was a senior analyst for the City of Fresno for 23 years and served her parish and diocese in roles including RCIA director, deacon formation and coordinator for detention ministry. Her ministries continued to enliven her desire to pursue a deeper relationship with God and others.
The Benedictine values of community, obedience and stability are ones that Sr. Rosemary finds both fulfilling and challenging. “The challenge lies in embracing unknowns, but accepting new opportunities to serve the community. Some of the greatest blessings in my life have resulted from a willingness to accept challenges; there is a great freedom in letting go of the outcome – not necessarily seeing the concrete results of my efforts,” she explains.
Earning her Master of Business Administration in 2012 from the University of Mary, she currently serves as Director of University Compliance. She assists where needed at the monastery and has been assistant oblate director for two years. Her Benedictine vocation began as an oblate, and her goal is to help oblates grow in appreciation of their part in the greater Benedictine family.
As her family and friends gathered to celebrate her perpetual monastic profession, Sr. Rosemary felt completely at peace because, in her heart, she had already been one hundred percent invested. “I didn’t feel any hesitation whatsoever. I look forward to what the future holds.”
“I have a pattern of stability in my life which encompasses my faith, community, commitment and ministry,” says Sr. Rosemary. “I tend to see things through. Maybe it’s a gift or a natural outgrowth of my Benedictine spirit. Whatever it is, I trust that God planted me on this prairie for a purpose which will unfold as God wills.”