Born in Willowdale, KS, Sr. Rosalia was the daughter of the late Joseph and Rosena Greiving Govert. She entered the Dominican Sisters of Great Bend on July 13, 1930, and pronounced her first vows August 17, 1933. She celebrated eighty years of religious profession in 2013. Sr. Rosalia attributed her religious vocation, in part, to growing up in a prayerful home environment “where God was always number one.”
Sr. Rosalia ministered for 37 years as a teacher, and sometimes also principal, of grades 1-8 in parochial elementary schools in Kansas. She retired from teaching in 1971 and studied to become a cosmetologist. For ten years she served her Sisters at the Motherhouse as the beautician. She was receptionist at the Art of Learning Center in Wichita and volunteer receptionist at Central Kansas Medical Center. When she retired in 1995, she said her favorite place to be was “at the Motherhouse among the Sisters, being able to minister in many ways to make the lives of the Sisters happier. Especially, I am proud to decorate the dining room for each season and occasion.”
In her reflection at the wake, Dominican Sister of Peace Renee Dreiling, OP, said:
Welcome to all of you who are here to celebrate Sr. Rosalia’s life! She would be delighted to see you! She loved company – friends and family and community members! Can’t you just see her eyes light up and the big smile you would receive along with the warm hand clasp!
The Gospel reading that Sr. Rosalia chose fits her perfectly too: Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. We know we cannot bear fruit if we are separated from Jesus, and we know that bearing fruit means we have to do something. Jesus summarized that something in the command to love. Sr. Rosalia loved much, and she loved many.
Over the years as I journeyed with Sr. Rosalia I saw love lived out in her. First of all it was lived out in her relationship with Jesus. She often had sleepless nights. When they came she would traipse off to the chapel and pray there in the dark for an hour. She always said she figured Jesus must have wanted to see her if he kept her awake. Her prayer books were bent on the edges from the many times she turned the pages. Her rosary was always in her pocket.
Sr. Rosalia recognized and owned both the good and the not so good qualities in herself. Her honesty was profound as she sought to become a better person and live the Gospel more fully. She wanted to rid her life of whatever stood in the way of loving Jesus more deeply. After our talks she loved praying together. She prayed spontaneously and honestly with me, as well as commented on my prayer for her! And her prayer always ended with gratitude and love.
Sr. Rosalia was very grateful for the love of her family. I heard about each of you and the kind things you did for her as well as for each other. She herself was very kind, and she loved to give little gifts. Most were things she created herself in her artistic way of putting things together and making them look wonderful. Before her poor eyesight prevented her, she always had boxes lined up on her desk with pretty little party favors for an upcoming feast. At first she made one for every Sister in the house; later she narrowed her efforts to one for every Sister in the infirmary. For several years she decorated the bulletin boards at the motherhouse and the dining room tables for holidays.
In her earlier years, she taught elementary school and was principal in many different places. She took care of her mother for several years; she held fond memories of that time. They prayed together, and I would imagine that she learned from her mother how to abide in Jesus.
As with all of us, there were days when pain or fear got in the way of her kind smile and her gratitude. But she always returned to abiding in God’s love.
I am quite confident that Sr. Rosalia’s joy is now complete and she is abiding in God. In fact she is probably even dancing around because her eyesight is now completely restored, along with her hearing! The days are no longer never-ending because she can’t see or hear – they are never ending because her joy in God is complete!!
Sr. Rosalia is survived by two brothers, Joseph and Julius, and a sister, Rosella. The wake and funeral Mass were held on October 21 at the Dominican Chapel of the Plains (Great Bend, KS). Burial was in the Sisters’ Resurrection Cemetery.
Memorial gifts in Sr. Rosalia’s name may be submitted securely online at oppeace.org or mailed to Office of Mission Advancement, Dominican Sisters of Peace, 2320 Airport Dr, Columbus, OH 43219-2098.