Ursuline Sister Rosanne Spalding: March 18, 1943-May 16, 2023

Sister Rosanne Spalding, 80, an Ursuline Sister of Mount Saint Joseph, died May 16, 2023, at Mount Saint Joseph, in her 62nd year of religious life. She was a native of Springfield, Ky.

Ever joyful, Sister Rosanne’s life was devoted to leading people to Jesus, especially preparing children and adults to receive the sacraments. She earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Brescia College in Owensboro in 1965 and a master’s degree in education from Western Kentucky University in 1974.

She taught in Kentucky at St. Bernard School, Clementsville (1965-67), Mary Carrico School, Knottsville (1967-69), St. Catherine School, New Haven (1972-76), St. Peter of Alcantara School, Stanley (1976-78), and at Precious Blood School, Owensboro (1969-70, 1980-82), serving as principal there from 1978-80. She was a teacher and principal of Christ the King School, Madisonville (1982-86). She also taught at St. John School, Plattsmouth, Neb., (1970-72). She was director of religious education at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Owensboro (1986-98), and from 1998-2023, she served as pastoral associate and director of religious education at Precious Blood Parish in Owensboro. For many years she made beautiful quilts for the Ursuline Quilt Club.

Survivors include the members of her religious community; siblings Martha Brinley of Lebanon, Ky., Sara Riedel, of Mt. Washington, Ky., Lawrence Spalding and Marlin Spalding, both of Springfield, Alice Miller of Louisville, Edward Spalding of Bardstown, Ky., and Ursuline Sister Laurita Spalding of Henderson, Ky.; nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents, Pete and Alice Spalding, and her sister Margaret Rose.

The funeral Mass will be at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, at Mount Saint Joseph. Visitation is from 3-7 p.m. Sunday at Precious Blood Parish, with prayers at 6:30 p.m. Visitation begins at 4 p.m. Monday at Mount Saint Joseph, followed by a vigil service at 6:30 p.m.

Glenn Funeral Home and Crematory, Owensboro, is handling arrangements.

Donations in memory of Sister Rosanne may be made to the Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph, 8001 Cummings Road, Maple Mount, KY 42356.

Wake reflection for Sister Rosanne Spalding

By Sister Sharon Sullivan

Congregational Leader

May 22, 2023

In the Gospel of St. John (14:2) we are assured, “In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?” That is a reassuringly direct question, and for Betty Rose – Sister Rosanne – Spalding, the answer was a positive promise, honoring a life committed to taking that next step, trying the next level, exploring the unknown in joy and in faith.


The fourth child to arrive in the Springfield home of Alice and Philetus “Pete” Spalding – following Eleanor, Martha, and Lawrence (or Little Pete) – Elizabeth Rose – all on her own – started the next level of the pattern that would reflect the Spalding family of nine children. Two girls and a boy, two girls and a boy, two girls and a boy. Betty Rose was a trend setter even then.


She was soon joined by Wanda (who became our Sister Laurita) and Marlin, then Sara, Alice, and Edward (Eddie). And to each of you Spalding siblings, and to the countless nieces, nephews, and cousins, we Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph offer our prayers, our love, and our sympathy – together with our thanks for sharing Sister Rosanne with us all these years.


When she was just ten days old, on Sunday, March 28, 1943, Elizabeth Rose – Betty Rose – began her faith journey, being baptized with her family present at Saint Rose of Lima Church in Springfield, Kentucky. There followed days and years of growing up on the farm in Springfield; and Betty Rose was an explorer, always ready to take that next step into the unknown.


Even if that unknown included climbing on the tractor at six- or seven-years-old with her little sister Wanda; while Wanda held the steering wheel, Betty Rose took that next step into the unknown, pushing whatever needed pushing to get the tractor started – at the top of a hill, no less. With an anxious Dad following behind! Needless to say, they both survived. And of course, it never paid Betty Rose to be satisfied with just the regular approach to life. If one had to milk the cow anyway, to what better use could you put a cow’s udder than to have a lusty and messy milk squirting contest with your little sister?


But growing up on the farm was about much more than milking cows, working the tobacco fields, and sometimes deliberately stubbing toes to try to get out of work. The Spalding family was a family of faith. At seven years old, Betty Rose received her first Holy Communion and was confirmed at Saint Rose just a year later. Family prayers, together with kneeling for nightly Rosary, were a common practice; of course, Betty Rose was an eager participant, but again embraced taking something to the next level when she responded one evening with “Holy Mary, Mother of God . . . well here comes Billy Newton.” And sure enough, as he came right along, their next-door neighbor, Billy Newton, was blessed with the Spalding prayers.


Coming home from school daily on the bus led to further explorations through the woods between the bus stop and home. Betty Rose’s first school years were at Saint Agnes, which closed at the end of her second year; so Betty Rose took that next step, attending Saint Rose in Springfield through her eighth grade. At Saint Agnes and Saint Rose, she met the Dominican Sisters. But then came Fredericktown High School in Springfield; it was there that she encountered Sister Consolata, her first Ursuline; and with that another vista opened for Betty Rose.


Not one to wait on making a decision, it was in December, 1959, when she was still sixteen, that Betty Rose submitted her application to begin becoming an Ursuline Sister of Mount Saint Joseph. To the question “What is your motive in wishing to become a Religious?”, Betty Rose responded, “My motive is . . . because then I could repay God for what he has done for me.” Repaying God. Perhaps someone else would have been content with a “thank you” note or prayers of gratitude, but Betty Rose took it to the next level – she gave God her life.


In September of 1960, Betty Rose began her last semester of high school at Mount Saint Joseph Academy AND at the same time entered the Mount Saint Joseph Postulancy. One year later, in August 1961, Betty Rose took the name “Sister Rosanne” and joined with eighteen others to form the class of 1961.


She kept a reflection from her retreat on that Investment Day; her reflection noted: “While this retreat was in progress, a man, a Russian, was sent orbiting the earth and in the 25 hours he stayed aloft, he circled our planet 17 times. Headlines the world over heralded this accomplishment. While this retreat was in progress, plans to ease the tensions that grip the world were proposed and rejected. Papers were full of that. Airplanes were hijacked; marriages made and broken; the Cincinnati Reds went back down to second place . . . and all of this was eaten up by the press as news of great worth. And yet, what is happening here at this hour at Mount Saint Joseph has greater significance for the entire world than anything in the papers. The meaning of this hour is that nineteen young women want to give everything to God. The meaning of this hour is that it is possible to give something to God, and that is a remarkable thing. Because it is possible to give everything, it is possible to give something.”


An incredible group. Of those nineteen novices, four still remain as Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph – Sister Helena Fischer, Sister Julia Head, Sister Kathleen Kaelin, and Sister Nancy Murphy. To you each we extend our love, our sympathy, and our prayers as you grieve for your classmate.


The next years for Sister Rosanne were times of what we now call “initial formation” – completing her first degree and learning more about being an Ursuline Sister. For some of those years, we still “kept silences;” and those in initial formation would sometimes be evaluated on how well they kept those silences – Sister Rosanne did not exactly get high marks there, but she was noted for “hospitable visiting.” As she prepared to make her final vows in 1969, Sister Rosanne wrote: “I am never completely satisfied with my prayer, because if I was, my spiritual life would not continue to grow – this is a continuous, slow, hard and stony path in the search for God.” Yet this was the ongoing adventure to which she committed herself.


In 1965 Sister Rosanne earned her baccalaureate degree from Brescia College followed by her Master of Arts from Western Kentucky University in 1974. It was in 1965 that Sister Rosanne began her teaching years with the first and second graders at Saint Bernard School in Clementsville, Kentucky, followed in 1967 with the first graders at Mary Carrico School in Knottsville, Kentucky. After teaching for a few years, Sister Rosanne wrote: “My personal reaction to this teaching experience is that it is a joy to be able to serve God’s little ones and spread the Good News to them. I feel these are the ones our Lord had in mind for me to instruct.”


There followed seventeen more years of teaching and enriching first and second grade students in Kentucky and Nebraska – Precious Blood in Owensboro, Saint John in Nebraska, Saint Catherine in New Haven, Saint Peter of Alcantara in Stanley, Precious Blood again, and Christ the King in Madisonville. In her Annals, reflecting on her teaching at Christ the King, Sister Rosanne wrote: “Teaching second grade included [the opportunity to] prepare students for the sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Eucharist . . . and develop classes for parents, and arrange for guest priests.” Academic instruction – reading, spelling, arithmetic – were fine, but Sister Rosanne was still drawn to that next level, and her real love was given to sacramental preparation and faith development. She was more than ready to step into that next unknown.


In 1986, Sister Rosanne began what would become her first twelve years in parish ministry as Director of Religious Education at Our Lady of Lourdes in Owensboro; this was followed in 1998 by her move to Precious Blood where she served as Pastoral Associate for the next twenty-five years. Of her move from the classroom to work in religious education, Sister Rosanne had much to say.


Religious education was Sister Rosanne’s chance to move to her next level. “I had so enjoyed this kind of work outside the classroom,” she said, “that when an opening came for a full-time position, I accepted it.” Later she exclaimed, “Without religious education, nothing makes sense in our lives! To help another learn more about their faith is an awesome thing to do. To help them know about their faith and hopefully touch their hearts is only being a tiny instrument in the hands of God.”


Sister Rosanne’s penchant for exploring the unknown reached all aspects of her life. She travelled far to support and share in family adventures and celebrations, weddings and ordinations and funerals. She ministered with the Ursuline community serving on multiple committees and task forces, making presentations, acting as secretary, becoming Director of Temporary Professed, and crafting beautiful and unique quilts. In the parish and greater community, she involved children, youth, and adults in retreats, workshops, conferences, travel – always encouraging them to expand their own horizons. In each of these, Sister Rosanne was always ready for the “what next” – from an Angela Pilgrimage to Italy, to floating down the Ohio River on Angela’s Ark, to an Alaska Cruise – and she didn’t just take a trip to a beach, she had to go parasailing, too.


From those who worked with and shared faith with Sister Rosanne we hear: “She’s very people-oriented, very down to earth and funny . . . people feel a closeness, a sharing with her.” Others would say, “Sister Rosanne deepened my understanding of my faith so that I could teach,” and “she has answers for everything. If she doesn’t know, she’ll find it.” Parishioners said, “Sister Rosanne has been our ‘rock’ at Precious Blood for years!!”


Perhaps that extra willingness, that eagerness to explore the unknown came to light most delightfully for a small boy at Precious Blood who had lost his grandad and did not have a grandma. He began to call Sister Rosanne his “grandma.” The boy’s mother said that “when Sister Rosanne found out about this, boy did she eat it up. She even came to Grandparents’ Day at school for him. She held a very special place in his heart and he did in hers.”


More than twenty-two years in schools, twelve years at Lourdes, and twenty-five at Precious Blood – more than sixty years of service, and this servant of God was called to take yet another step into an adventure of the unknown. For then cancer came; Sister Rosanne invited all – her parishioners, her family, her sisters, her friends – to walk with her in prayer through this new journey of faith.


A Psalm dear to Sister Rosanne is Psalm 122: “I rejoiced when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.’” So, on the evening of May 16, as her sister, Sister Laurita, and her dear friend, Sister Margaret Ann, were sitting with her, perhaps Sister Rosanne heard this very invitation again as she sent the two of them away to get some rest, assuring them she would be alright. And then, Rosanne stepped with joyful faith into her next adventure, the welcoming embrace of her cherished, loving Lord.


And we say, “Rest peacefully, Sister Rosanne.”



  1. Linda Connor

    Sr Rosanne lead many people to Jesus in RCIA ! She lead with Joy and grace ! We will miss her at Precious Blood ! May she Rest In Peace !

  2. Stephanie Warren

    Sr. Rosanne was a beautiful soul who will be missed by all who know and love her! Rest peacefully in God’s arms, Rosanne! ❤️

  3. Susan Foster

    She was my second grade teacher at St. Bernard’s in Clementsville. Loved her! May she rest in the arms of our Father in Heaven after a life well lived in the service of our Lord and Savior.

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