Home » Obituaries » Remembrance of the Life of Margaret Rose Knoll SL

Remembrance of the Life of Margaret Rose Knoll SL

Posted on October 6, 2015, by Loretto Community

Margaret Rose Knoll SL
Margaret Rose Knoll SL
Aug. 27, 1914 – Oct. 6, 2015

Sister Margaret Rose was born in Minonk, Ill., one hundred and one years ago. This remembrance is drawn from an oral interview she did some years ago.

About her parents and her 11 siblings Margaret Rose said: “My dad, Francis Theodore, came from Bismark, Germany, when he was only about 14 years old, because he was going to be inducted into the [German] Army. A Catholic priest helped him to get out of the country to get to England and then to get onto a boat. He was on his own for a while in Chicago and then went to Minonk, where he worked in the [coal] mines for a while. My mom, Mary Salewski, came from Warsaw, in what was called Prussia at the time. She was only 9, but came with her whole family; evidently they had relatives in Minonk.

“I am number ten in a family of 12 [children]. Now, I don’t think we were all ever together, the 12 of us, thanks be to God. It would have driven the family crazy. I was only 2 years old when dad decided to [leave the coal mines and] take all of us to a farm … first to West Brooklyn, Ill., and finally to Harmon, Ill. We had a pasture of over 80 acres in the Sand Hills. It was wonderful because when the weather was good mother used to take the three of us youngest and walk. We had a sandy part in the hills where we found Indian arrowheads and we loved that. Mom liked to pick flowers and just walk and enjoy the birds. In the winter time all the neighbor kids came and we sleighed on anything — a board, a shovel, anything. And the only time we came home was to eat and warm up a little.

“The last farm we lived on was closer to Sterling, Ill., where I went to Catholic Community High when I was a sophomore. [Before that] I was in the public school most of the time. … That is when I saw the influence that the Sisters of Loretto had on the students. They really impressed me greatly. Mother Urban was the principal. She was very firm but she was so fair. Sister Maura Campbell was there, Sister Edgar, Sister Matilda; they were all wonderful people.

“When I was a Junior I wanted to join the Carmelites. And Sister Teresa Augusta said to me, ‘You would never stay’ — I guess I was kind of lively! So I graduated in 1932, when the Depression was going on, and went into nurses’ training, at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Aurora, Ill. Just for eight months. … I never did finish the nurses’ training; I got sick when there was blood; I just couldn’t take it. Much later I worked with Sister Marie Lourde for a summer and really liked it. And I was always the infirmarian no matter where I went.

“I was on a commuter train going back to the hospital [after a visit home], and all of the sudden it hit me. ‘This is terrible; you shouldn’t be going back there; you should be going to Loretto.’ And I started to cry. So I left nurses’ training. I talked to Mother Urban, who said to me ‘Did you write your letter to Loretto?’ I said no and she said, ‘You go up into my office and you write that letter and I’ll mail it.’”

Margaret Rose entered Loretto Oct. 25, 1933, and was received April 25, 1934, being known as Sister Ann Mark until she went to Highland Park, Ill., in 1966. There she returned to her baptismal name “because nobody knew me there, and I could start over. But later I went back to Blessed Sacrament, Denver, and a lot of people (I had taught) didn’t know me!”

Margaret Rose tried nursing one more time, training at St. Joseph’s Hospital, Lexington, Ky., and serving under Sister Sienna at Loretto Motherhouse for two years, 1947-49. But teaching was her thing. She completed a bachelor’s degree in history at Loretto Heights College in 1950 and earned a master’s degree in elementary school counseling in 1970 at the College of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn. In her first 30 years as a Sister of Loretto, Margaret Rose taught mostly the middle grades in 11 elementary schools, crisscrossing the plains among nine cities in six states. She was principal for nine years, superior for three.

In 1973, Margaret Rose returned to her home state, going to St. Peter’s Cathedral School in Rockford, Ill., to serve for 18 years as classroom teacher and later librarian and tutor. Soon she befriended Sister Vera Marie Day. “We were the only two out of the habit when we first went to St. Peter’s,” she recalled in her memoirs. After about six years, their more elderly companions at St. Peter’s retired and Margaret Rose and Vera left the 30-room convent. She noted, “On the feast of St. Francis Assisi, S. Vera Marie and I moved into a parish house, a second-floor apartment. I had said I would never live in anything but a convent but there I was, enjoying small but comfy quarters. My life style as a religious did not change. … The apartment was very close to the school and to church and everything. Different religious congregations of Sisters lived in our vicinity and we became close friends.

“We were there 10 years. We were very happy. It was wonderful for two older people because everything was on the one floor. After a day of teaching we did a little gardening. Sister Vera Marie had her family there and I had my family.

“In 1985, I stopped teaching full time at St. Peter’s and began tutoring half days. I also taught CCD First Communicants one afternoon a week. For several years I was active in a Renew group in the parish and found it inspiring and enlightening.”

In 1990, Margaret Rose and Vera Marie moved to Loretto Motherhouse where Margaret Rose soon made the acquaintance of every tree around the campus. It was her pleasure through the years to introduce newcomers to the trees and flowers and other wonders of natural beauty around her. In her personnel file are photographs that hint at her equal pleasure in family and friends: Of course, there are photos of nieces and nephews, grandnieces and nephews and their families. There are photos of her former students, grown men and women who traveled to Loretto to see their grade school teacher of long ago. A charming photo of four sisters in four different habits recalls her lasting affection for graduate school companions at the College of St. Thomas.

Concluding her autobiographical notes, Margaret Rose wrote: “The most outstanding memories of my life were the joy of my reception and final profession as a dedicated person in the service of Christ and his people in the Church.”

Sister Margaret Rose died peacefully, Oct. 6, 2015, at Loretto Motherhouse Infirmary, in the 81st year of her life as a Sister of Loretto. Her niece, Karen Knoll, and Karen’s daughter, Laura, were with her, surrounded by the love of the Motherhouse community. Margaret Rose had celebrated her 101st birthday in August.

— By Eleanor Craig SL


Loretto Community

We are Sisters and Co-members who strive to bring the healing spirit of God into our world.

Donate in their honor

Your support makes all the difference.

Archives Request

Searching for someone or something specific?

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.