Rosalie Anderson, SNJM
I was welcomed into the devout, Norwegian-Lutheran Anderson family as child number two in a family of five. We were a poor, farming family living in rural Minnesota. In the spring of my third grade (1952), my mother declared that we would shovel no more snow and never swat another mosquito. We were moving to Bandon, OR, a small Southern Oregon beach town. A few months later, our lives turned upside down. A drunk driver killed my father and his identical twin brother while they were driving to work. Dreams were shattered but new ones were quietly forming. I was just ten years old but went to work. I was raising two little brothers and babysitting three nights a week. Through contacts and circumstances, I was attracted to the Catholic Church and on my 17th birthday, I was baptized Catholic. Our pastor offered to buy my books when I went off to Marylhurst College as long as I stayed in school. He also added, “If you can’t lick ’em, join ’em.” Well, I didn’t “lick ’em” and two years into my Marylhurst experience, I crossed over to the other side of the campus and “joined ’em.” It was 1962, the year that the Oregon Province divided into Washington and Oregon. Our group is part of history in the Northwest.
I prayed devoutly during those early novitiate years to be a “good nun, a prayerful woman, a difference maker.” It took a while for me to get the message that I needed to change the theme and simply offer myself to the needs of the community and the church. If I allowed God to use me, the rest would happen. I became a first grade teacher and there is nothing more to say. For seventeen years, I could teach children to read and count to 100; plus, I got to introduce them to Jesus, their friend for life. We had such grand times. I was in administration, and eventually taught third and fourth grades. When I retired, I went into the Peace Corps (Thailand for 2.5 years) and continued to touch the hearts and minds of children while teaching English, but essentially teaching teachers a solid, student-centered approach to education. That experience opened the door to brief experiences in Vietnam and Lesotho. Once again, I retired, but simply to step it up and re-enter high school as a full time aide for my physically handicapped grandnephew. For three years, I went to his classes, took his notes, acted as his scribe for his homework and drilled him for his exams until he pleaded for mercy! On June 7, 2014, “we” graduated from De La Salle North Catholic High School, a Cristo Rey school in North Portland, to a standing ovation! After forty-seven years in formal education, I have once again looked retirement directly in the face and am currently ministering in hospitality at our retreat center in Santa Cruz. It is serene and peaceful in its hustle and bustle of groups coming and going. Watching whales and catching glimpses of dolphins frolicking in our Monterey Bay have replaced homework and exams.
I still pray that I will be open to the needs of community and church. The needs are changing, but so am I. I am fifty years older and wiser. I carry fifty years of blessing and wisdom with me. I add countless prayers of gratitude for all that is and that will be. Thank you to my family, my friends and to my SNJM sisters. I love you!