Remembrance of the Life of Sister Rosemary (formerly Sister Mary Alvera) Grawer SL
“I was born into the Grawer family, the youngest of four children. Anthony (Tony) was the oldest, then Dolores, next Alvera and last yours truly. Our parents were Albert George Grawer and Catherine Dussold Grawer, both of St. Louis. Tony was married, Dolores remained single, Alvera entered the convent at the age of 15 and I became a Sister of Loretto many years later, at the age of 19. I could not have asked for a better family life or a religious one. The good example I received from both has served me well.
“1938-39 saw one outstanding event — before my entrance into religious life. Mother became seriously ill [and] bedridden. I was asked by my father to stop high school to care for her, which I did. [Alvera had already entered Loretto; she also had given up high school to care for mother.] … Mother was ill for about a year and a half [and] died in 1940. I learned a lot during those years; they helped me see what I wanted to do, because I had much time for reading and thinking. God’s ways are strange indeed.
“After two or three years [working as a filing clerk in an office] I entered the convent and finished high school there. I went to school on Saturdays and summers to earn my AB, then on to the University to gain an MA. These are times I shall not forget, hard times yes, but if I had to do it over again, I would not do any differently. I learned much during those years.”
It was the winter of 1944 when Rosemary prepared to enter Loretto. Her sister Alvera, now Sister Catherine Albert, had been teaching at Christ the King in Louisville, Ky., for nearly six years. Alvera wrote to Reverend Mother Edwarda, “This tiny note is simply to tell you how excited and anxious Rosemary is getting. Her letters to me average two a week and they are all about her preparations. … I can never thank you enough for your thoughtfulness in so many little things, which surely help with the financial side. Sister Paschal is also helping … making her skirts and aprons.”
Rosemary arrived at Loretto June 8, 1944, and was received into the novitiate Aug. 15 the same year. She made her first vows Aug. 15, 1946, and her final vows Aug. 15, 1949. Rosemary took her sister’s name, being known as Sister Mary Alvera until 1967 when both sisters resumed using their baptismal names. Naturally the name switching caused some confusion. In a 2003 note for both their personnel files, Rosemary detailed the switches and concluded, “Just wanted to get my record straight!”
Rosemary left a cryptic summary of her active service as a Sister of Loretto, listing without comment the following: teaching first grade for seven years at Highwood in Illinois, then first grade for nine years at St. Philomena in Denver. Twenty three years in Rawlings, Wyo., as first grade teacher, principal and superior; one brief year teaching fourth grade at St. Stephen Protomartyr in St. Louis City; then on to to St. Ferdinand School in Florissant, Mo., as principal, teaching various grades for 17 years; finishing up with seven years as local coordinator at the St. Louis Center. Rosemary’s list concludes: “I then retired!”
Rosemary claimed, “I am not leaving a list of great accomplishments, but one which I pray will be important to God, who knows I did my best with the tasks that presented themselves at the time.” This is how she described her 57 years in the classroom, during which she taught nearly 2,500 children to read.
“Something I shall always remember — ‘Sister Rosemary Day’ — a parish celebration in Rawlins, a total surprise. Many Lorettines helped to celebrate, Sisters of Charity, BVMs and my own sister, Sister Alvera, came from Kansas City. The day ended with Mass and a parish carry-in dinner. A day I shall never forget—Love-Concern-and Friendship.”
“My life as a Sister of Loretto has been a very rewarding one from beginning to its end. It was a life that was not lived in the limelight, but one which I found very comfortable to live behind the scenes. My life has not been extraordinary but the many people and the few places I’ve lived have had an impact on my life.
“I have loved every place where God sent me. He has been so good to me in my lifetime. I thank Him everyday.”
– By Eleanor Craig SL
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