Going to the Dogs

Let clothing be given to the brethren according to the circumstances of the place and the nature of the climate in which they live…  Rule of Benedict

We tend to think of Catholic Sisters as having been perfect, pious and dutiful all their lives. So when we hear a sister say she might have been a little, hmmm, wild in her younger years, we are surprised.

Sister Rosemary Becker chuckles at that. She’s taking a moment out of her day – Sr. Rosemary is sacristan, meaning that she prepares the books, vestments, chalices and other items needed for Eucharist – to reminisce about her younger years.

They weren’t as wild as her mother feared.

“I knew my mom was praying for me to have a vocation because she thought I was going to the dogs,” Sr. Rosemary says. “I did have a lot of boyfriends. But I always thought, this one’s okay, this one’s okay, this one’s okay. That didn’t mean I wanted to marry any of them.”

Throughout high school, Sr. Rosemary enjoyed being part of the gang. Friday nights found her group at the football games, while Saturday – after cleaning the house – she was allowed to go with the gang to the movies. It was just what she wanted to do.

Then, as the eldest girl in her family, she had to step in for her mother one weekend.

“My mom and dad went out of town for my cousin’s ordination,” Sr. Rosemary says. “I had cousins and siblings to cook all these meals for every day. It was quite a lot of work. I thought, Is this what I want to do all my life?”

Not long after, Sr. Rosemary’s cousin came for a visit.

“My mother’s first cousin, Sister Madeleine Henkel from the Benedictine community, came to stay with us for a while,” she says. “I liked her a lot. She asked if I wanted to visit the Benedictines. I went. It was so peaceful!”

Impressed, Sr. Rosemary began mulling over the question of her vocation after high school. Although it had been in the back of her mind as a young girl, she hadn’t considered it seriously in years. Her brother asked her if she was going to enter.

“I said, I think I will,” she says. “He said, I’ll see you in 6 weeks. I thought to myself, I’m going to make it 7 weeks if it kills me.”

Sr. Rosemary chuckles again. She’s lasted a whole lot more than 7 weeks!

“It’s been a good life,” she says. “I’ve become the person I was meant to be, as an educator and now a sacristan. I love this community and welcome all to come see.”