Sister Rosalin Thieneman, OSU, Dec. 7, 1920-March 29, 2017

In Remembrance of

Sister Rosalin Thieneman

April 2, 2017

Sister Amelia Stenger, Congregational Leader


We come together this evening to celebrate the life of Sister Rosalin Thieneman. She was a woman of strength and one who served.  She was a teacher, a minister to students at Brescia, a strong social justice advocate and one who worked with the sick and homebound.  As we tell you about her life you will see how outstanding she was in each of these areas.

Mary Margaret Thieneman was born on December 7, 1920 in Shively, KY to John Joseph Thieneman and Elizabeth Mary Senn Thieneman.  She was baptized the next day, December 8, at St. Denis Church in Shively by Fr. A.C. Zoeller.  She was confirmed on April 22, 1928 by Bishop John Floersch.

Mary Margaret was the first of nine children.  Her brothers and sisters were Joseph Herman, John Martin, Paul Joseph, Edward Francis, Earl Thomas, Rose Marita Thieneman, Bernice Mattei and Therese Stuber.  We give our sympathy and prayers to you, Marita, and to all your family.  Thank you for sharing Sr. Rosalin with us for all these years.

Mary Margaret’s schooling began at home where her parents taught her to read, write and spell.  As a preparation for her formal entry to school in the fall of 1927, Mrs. Thieneman obtained permission for Mary Margaret to “sit” in on classes in the spring of 1927.  So well had they prepared her for school that she was promoted to the second grade at the end of that period.  She remembered fondly her grade school teachers—Sisters Imelda, Mary Clara and Thomas Ann.  She recalled how patiently Sister Thomas Ann rehearsed with her the valedictorian speech she gave when graduating from the Eighth Grade.

Other formal education included certification in commercial education from St. Helena’s Commercial Night High School in Louisville and Mount Saint Joseph Academy,  a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a minor in History from Brescia College (now University) and a Master’s degree in Education with a certificate in Secondary School Guidance Counselling from the University of Detroit.

Mary Margaret entered Mount Saint Joseph Novitiate on February 1, 1949, a very wintery day with ice and snow on the ground.  She recalled her brother, Joe, bravely risking the trip from Shively to Maple Mount along with Mrs. Thieneman.  Upon reception into the community on August 14, 1949, she received the name of Sr. Rosalin.

She told of her hesitancy to come to the convent because she thought she was too old.  She said, “At twenty-one, I reasoned that no one enters a convent when they are this old.  My social life was interesting. I had satisfying employment and was, in general, pleased with life.”  She just kept on working and every once in a while, she would think about entering the community.

Then, one autumn day at age twenty-seven, she returned home from having spent an hour in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament during Forty Hours at her parish.  Returning to her room to change to casual attire, there was a persistent voice that kept asking, “Who told you, you were too old?”.  The questioning voice persisted, awaiting an answer. She finally said, “Yes, Lord, I’ll check it out.” It was then that she decided to talk with someone about the Ursulines.

After two visits with Sister Thomas Ann, she decided to enter.  To her surprise, she found that there was a novice in the class ahead of her who was in her forties.  If was as if the Lord was saying to her, ”And who told you, you were too old.”  She was in the class behind Sister Jane Irvin.

Mary Margaret received the habit on August 14, 1949 and made first vows on August 15, 1951.  She made final vows on August 15, 1954.

The other women in her class were Sisters Mary Modesta Coomes, Gabriella Holland, Robert Mary Kennedy, Mary Francita Russell.  Eileen Marie Rueth, Helen Ann Stuart, Mary Karen Sweatt, Mary Jacinta Tichener.  Jacinta, it is so good of you to come and share this evening with us. Most of the other women have died and were waiting for Rosalin when she arrived in heaven.

Sister Rosalin began her teaching ministry in September 1951 at St. Brigid School, in Vine Grove, KY and then went to St. Thomas More School in Paducah, KY.  She mentioned that she started her last year at St. Thomas More with a great deal of confidence and enthusiasm.  She was feeling like a pro because she had taught the third grade for several years.  It was a shock to her when Mother Ambrose called her in mid-October to ask her to come to Mount Saint Joseph Academy for the rest of the year to teach typewriting and to serve as secretary to Sister Joseph Therese who was principal at the time.  Her next two assignments took her to Immaculate School and St. Pius Tenth School, both in Owensboro. By the time she finished at these two schools she had taught grades two through seven.

In June of 1961, Sister Rosalin began a 27 year ministry in Student Personnel Administration at Brescia College.  She began as assistance Registrar to Sister Laurine.  Her ministry at Brescia began at the time of a major expansion in federal and state student financial aid. In 1962, Sister Joan Marie, President at the time, asked Sister Rosalin to represent her at a meeting in Washington regarding a new federal grant.  Little did she realize that this meeting would mark the beginning of her work in an ever-growing student financial aid program.  While doing this, she also held the office of student personnel director including admissions, student accounts and loan collections.  In October, 1988, Sister Rosalin retired from Brescia having given 27 years of highly dedicated service to students and to the College’s mission.

When Sister left Brescia, the Sisters put a book together for “Roz” as they called her.  Each Sister wrote something in the book but they didn’t put their names beside what they wrote. As some of these are read, those of you who were there with her, see if they are your comments about Sister Rosalin.

One Sister said, “I remember Roz coming in from the Thieneman’s bountiful store laden with enough exotic fruit from Paul and enough cookies and cake from Mom Thieneman to feed the hungry Brescia mob.  This gave sufficient excuses for the perennial parties in the community room.”

She apparently was a great seamstress.  She made drapes, table cloths and napkins for the tables in the Sisters’ dining room at Brescia.  Another Sister said, “I remember how she demonstrated her seamstress ability by taking new clothes apart, scrutinizing them from every angle and then putting them back together amazingly to her own satisfaction.”

Yet another sister said, “I remember how Roz helped to keep all of us aware of peace and justice issues and encouraged us to write letters and make phone calls to make our views known.  She attended Peace Perspective meetings and shared the information she received with all of us.  Once the usually timid Roz actually dared to challenge the learned views on the subject expressed by Father Saffer in a Sunday homily.”

Every one of the memories in the book is so good.  We will share just a couple more.  A sister said, “I remember when Roz and I went to a Registrars and Admissions meeting in Denver.  While there, we took a side trip to Winter Park and spent a lot of time deliberating because at that time we were still robed in our long habits, flowing veils, side rosaries, and other accessories.  We finally agreed to the ride saying that no one knew us there and who would ever know.  Just as the ski lift left the ground, we overheard a man exclaim, “Wow, wouldn’t the National Catholic Reporter love to have a picture of that!”

One last story and then we will continue with her life story. The sister telling this story said, “I’ll never forget the story that takes the cake.  A foreign student came into Roz’s office asking for free money.  Just to prove her point, Roz handed the student some forms to fill out and asked him what his name was. He replied, “Ugimedes.”

“Yes, I gave you these,” she replied. “Now what is your name?”  Again came the reply, “Ugimedes.”

Trying very hard to make herself clear, Roz repeated a third time, “Yes, I gave you these. Now what is your name?”

“I just told you two times, my name is Ugimedes,” the young man answered.

The book is in the back of the chapel if you would like to read more.  They are all wonderful descriptions of Sister Rosalin.

In January 1989, Sister Rosalin began part-time work in Pastoral Ministry to the sick, elderly and homebound parishioners of St. Edward Parish in Jeffersontown, Kentucky. She also ministered to residents of three nursing homes under the pastoral care of St. Edward Parish. As she entered the new ministry, she wrote this in her archives report.  “On the feast of the Baptism of our Lord, January 9th, I began a new and very different ministry.  As Jesus began his public ministry at the time of His Baptism, I, too, began a public ministry in the Church on this feast.  This association of my new ministry coincides with the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord.  It has been a meaningful and inspirational day for me.”

When one of her coworkers left his position at the parish, he wrote Rosalin this note.  It said, ”Rosalin, I really admire you and your ministry in working with the elderly and the sick of the parish.  It takes a special person to do that kind of ministry and you are that special person.  I have seen you work very hard at what you do.  Mostly though, it is all the little things you do that I admire.  Calling people to stuff bulletins, making sure the kitchen stays clean and praying.  I love hearing your interpretation of the scriptures on Tuesday morning.  Because many times I have never thought of something the way you did, it makes me go, “Yeah, that’s what that reading meant.” You are so full of wisdom, I could listen to you for hours.”

She held that position at Saint Edward Parish until September of 2001 when she moved to the Mount.  She has volunteered in many ways here at the Mount and for that we are grateful.

Sister Rosalin has been asking God to take her for a long time.  She would say, “God, I am ready, why won’t you take me?”  On the early afternoon of March 29, 2017, after serving the Community and the Church for 68 years, God answered her and called her home.  We are grateful to our nurses who took such good care of her and you who have watched with her for the past days.

In response to the memories in the “Roz” book that we read a few minutes ago, she wrote a response to the Sisters at Brescia but it is appropriate to share it here. She is speaking to all of us.  In her words, she says, “I am relying on you to remain one with me by uniting with me in prayer that my ministry will be fulfilled according to God’s purpose! I am deeply appreciative to each of you for BEing with me in so many ways at so many times.  Thank you for your expressions of Good-bye.”

Rosalin, your ministry has been fulfilled and we say good bye.  May you rest in God’s peace.



  1. Patty Blair

    So sorry to hear if the death of Sr. Rosalin. She was my third grade teacher. I had the privilege of working with her in the Financial Aid Office at Brescia for a number of years. Many students would be amazed to know how hard she worked to provide them with the maximum amount of aid possible. She was truly devoted to her mission. May she rest in God’s peace.

  2. Marilyn Pierson, OP

    Keeping all of you in prayer as you say “good-bye” to Rosalin. She was a friend that I lost touch with over the years after we both were Financial Aid Directors at our respective colleges. She was a solid inspiration to me.

  3. Marilyn Pierson, OP

    Keeping all of you in prayer as you say “good-bye” to Rosalin. She was a friend from our serving as Financial Aid Directors at our respective colleges in the 70’s and 80’s. I did lose contact with her in our later years and it is my loss.

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