December 1, 1909 – January 8, 1998
In the Liturgy of the Hours, which Sister Rose Alma prayed faithfully and fervently each day, she prayed in the words of the psalmist, “My soul waits for you. My soul is longing for you.” (Psalm 130).
On January 8th her waiting and longing for our Lord were over when she welcomed death with the same quiet gentleness and readiness which were so characteristic of her entire life.
It was in Essexville, Michigan on December 1, 1909 that Sister Rose Alma became the third of the four children born to Albert and Mary Krause Oliver. Precious she was indeed as she was their only girl. At her Baptism at St. Boniface Church in Bay City on December 26, 1909 she received the lovely name of Marion Margaret. On June 17, 1917 she was confirmed by Bishop Michael Gallagher at St. John Church, Essexville, the parish from which she was later to enter our Dominican community.
The Oliver home was right across the street from the Sisters’ Convent, and when Marion saw that the Sisters had gone over to school, she would take her doll, don “a veil” and go over to the Convent to spend the morning with our dear Sister Crescentia Wucherpfenning. She eventually attended St. John School for both grade and high school and was taught by our Sisters. Sister Rose Alma later remarked that she always had the desire to be a Sister and her close contacts with Sisters helped her to keep her desire to become one of them. She never regretted having become a religious.
Marion, at nineteen, entered the Community at Marywood on June 29, 1929 with Sister Jerome Smithers as her postulant and novice mistress. Since some of the postulants were on the missions, her class did not all receive the Holy Habit at the same time. Her Reception of the Habit was on June 26, 1930 with the second of the three groups at which time she was given the name of Sister Rose Alma of St. Dominic. The entire class made their First Profession of Vows to Mother Eveline Mackey on August 30, 1932. Her Final Profession of Vows was made to Mother Euphrasia Sullivan on August 30, 1938.
As a postulant, Marion was assigned to Marinette, Wisconsin to do her practice teaching under the direction of Sister Nicholas Forcht, her first grade teacher. As a second year novice she was missioned to Melvindale. In all, Sister Rose Alma was to spend over fifty years in Catholic education. Twenty of these years were actually in public schools. Fifteen of them were in Dixon and Santa Cruz, New Mexico, which remained public schools until the famous Dixon School Case. When she returned to Michigan, she spent her next five years on Beaver Island, which is still a public school though no longer staffed by our Sisters. Sister had one-year assignments to Mt. Carmel, Saginaw; St. Mary, Alma; and Blessed Sacrament, Grand Rapids. For eleven years she taught at St. Joseph, Grand Rapids. Her school years ended at Melvindale, where she spent eighteen consecutive years.
Sister was a much loved and conscientious elementary teacher, who in the course of the years taught every grade from one to eight. In her earlier years, she often had three and four grades in a room. Then, too, in the smaller places she was also the choir director and organist. Frequently she was the Convent annalist, and in one of her accounts, we find this very fine reference to life on a small mission: “As in the case of any Convent with fewer than four Sisters, the jobs are numerous and often thankless, but if one is worthy of the name Sister, one must be ready for this and expect no reward till, ‘the curtain falls’ for the final act, when no task will be a thankless one for the Bridegroom will be there to do proper homage to His bride.”
Sister Rose Alma was an admirable, dedicated, and hard-working community member who was ever eager to be of help to anyone. On the missions she had the reputation of winning the award for the “first-to-finish ANYTHING” be it report cards, cleaning, or packing! Many Sisters and teachers have grateful memories of her doing bulletin boards for them. Perhaps she inherited some of her bulletin board aptitude and expertise from her father, who was a carpenter.
All of her years were happy ones, but perhaps her years in New Mexico were some of her best remembered ones because of the different culture and her experiences. For example, when she taught Junior High in Dixon, she had a very small enrollment at the beginning of the school year as the students were working on the ranches or in Colorado; other memories were of the infant Confirmations; the many places in the vicinity with religious names which were indicative of the deep and strong faith of the people. Wonderful and memorable, too, were the many years both in school and CCD when she was privileged to prepare ever so many children for the reception of Sacraments of the Holy Eucharist, Reconciliation, and Confirmation.
When Sister left Melvindale, her residence for one year was at the House of Studies and then she came to Marywood; at both places she had more time for prayer and engaged in many helpful duties. Because of failing health, Aquinata Hall became her residence in September, 1989.
Sister had a favorite maxim: “O be swift to love! Make haste to be kind.” This she lived to the full. May she, who so admirably and loved well both God and neighbor in this life, now enter into the glories of heaven for all eternity with God and all God’s holy ones. We are grateful for the blessings Sister Rose Alma brought to our Community. May she rest in peace!
Sister Rose Alma is survived by her nephew, nieces, and many friends.
Entered eternal life on January 8, 1998 at the age of 88 after 68 years of religious life
We commend Sister Rose Alma to our prayers.